Something happened recently that caused me to panic. Perhaps panic is not the best choice of words. It was more like “wake up”. That’s it. Something happened that caused me to wake up.
I was under the weather, and Little One was keeping herself busy after school. My five year old was doing her homework on her own because I was “preoccupied”
ahem…clinging to the porcelaine throne for dear life. When I returned from the loo, Little One was acting a little aloof. It took me all of two seconds to realize that she had bright RED lipstick on! I was shocked, but also a bit impressed at how well she had applied the lipstick! Masterfully done for a five year old!
NO MAKE-UP UNTIL YOU’RE EIGHTEEN!!!
This said, I was alarmed. She is too young to wear lipstick (obviously…she’s only five!). She acted as though all was normal and when asked where she found the lipstick, she sort of ignored me. I couldn’t get mad because she was so proud of herself (okay, she was totally cute). I told her that little girls are not to wear make-up. She retorted, “Why do mommies wear make-up then?”
When I was pregnant with Little One, I worried if my unborn child was okay. I obsessed with whether everything on the inside was fine and if she was developing the way she was supposed to. Then she was born 12 weeks early. I worried if she was going to survive. I wondered if we were ever going to leave the NICU. Then when we brought her home, I wondered if I was doing an okay job as a parent.
Now she’s five! She’s five and she’s growing up too quickly.
I actually don’t want her to wear make-up until she’s eighteen! I’m being a little dramatic. Maybe sixteen?
I let her use chap stick or sheer lip gloss, and that’s it. Absolutely no make-up until she’s is in high school. That’s the rule. I know right now, she doesn’t even want to wear make-up every day, let alone in public or at school. She just likes wearing Mama’s make-up at home. When we’re with family or at home, I let her play dress up. I don’t think it’s harmful playing spa day or hairdresser…or is it? Do these activities teach young girls that they must grow up to be beautiful and know how to apply make-up properly and do their hair set a negative example? Is it potentially harmful? I’m on the fence.
I want Little One to place more value on being a good role model to others, enjoying the activities she loves best, and showing kindness to others. I want her to value hard work and see its rewards. I’ve been trying to select my words carefully lately and not focus on things like “Oh, you’re so cute!” and more on “Wow! You did a great job on your reading homework!” or “You are such a great helper!”. I often tell her after school that I am proud of her for being a good friend to her classmates. It really is hard to change the way we speak sometimes, because I often just want to say, “You are just SO adorable!!”
As a parent, I’m Little One’s first role model. I want to tell Little One that she is beautiful just the way she is. I want to let her know that she doesn’t need make-up to be beautiful and that her confidence, kindness, generosity, empathy, and everything about her (even the quirky and not so fun parts) make her unique and lovable.
The topic of appearance and how our girls (that collective “our” girls as in girls in general) perceive themselves is something I think about often. Little One is only five years old, yet I wonder how all the things she is exposed to, the peer pressure, the socialization, the media and everything else will play a role in the value she has on herself. I want to empower her, prepare her, and give her the tools she needs to become a strong person person — and one with a good belief system, who is kind, and is a person of “good character”.
I sometimes think of what things will be like in ten years and the issues teenage girls face. This makes me feel knots in my stomach. I want to prepare her and not keep her in a bubble. I need her to know that girls are not objects. How do I ensure she grows up knowing she is aware of this and that girls are not to be sexual objects? Little girls see this every day –even if it isn’t always apparent. I see it in the clothing available to kids, in certain TV shows…it’s everywhere.
Seeing her wearing Mommy’s make-up stirred all these emotions in me.
“Why do mommies wear make-up then?”
To be honest, though I want to tell her that all people are born beautiful and that beauty is really what’s in your heart and how you treat people and how you live your life, I feel like I need a little splash of lip gloss and some eye make-up to make myself feel pretty and more confident.
This is when I cry because I want to tell my daughter one thing, yet don’t really follow my own words. I’m the first to admit that I love getting my manicure and pedicure done. I love the way I feel when I step out of a hair salon after getting my hair cut and highlighted. I LOVE lip gloss! How do I act as a role model to my child, telling her that beauty is not about make-up and what’s on the outside when I feel I need to wear make-up?
Julie Cole recently wrote a post on the PTPA blog about Kids Ear Piercing. The words “No improvements required” just jumped out and left an impact. It’s true. This is the message I want to give Little One. No improvements required. I know getting ears pierced and wearing make-up are not exactly the same thing, but they are sort of connected. They’re both related in that they are thought to enhance one’s beauty.