This is a weekly series that I’m going to be doing for a while called (Bad) Makeup Advice. I will be posting this segment on Sundays. The topic of this series is makeup advice or “rules” I have heard over the years and how I feel about them. I welcome discussion to these posts! Please feel free to share advice or rules you have heard as well. I might respond to them in a later post!
Makeup is not for children.
I disagree with this simply because I have never gotten a reason that is reasonable. If someone, anyone, had ever responded that they want A) their child to recognize their natural beauty and to accept themselves flaws and all or B) that they worry their child would get caught up in the unrealistic norms of white beauty culture, I’d probably be on board with their decision that makeup isn’t for their children. I support body positivity and teaching it from the earliest of ages. However, I haven’t gotten those kind of answers.
Why is makeup supposedly not for children? Below are the top 3 most common answers I have heard over the years.
- Makeup is too expensive to let children play with it and ultimately waste it.
- Letting little girls play with makeup will turn them into tramps when they are older.
- Letting little boys play with makeup will turn them into sissies when they are older.
Alright, let’s address these one by one.
- Makeup can be very expensive. However, I am not advocating that parents set their 6-year-old up with their own vanity full of Anastasia Beverly Hills and Bobby Brown palettes. As adults, we can be choosy and economical at the same time in what we allow our children to use. ELF has a lot of $1-2 products that children can play with that shouldn’t make us cringe overmuch at the “waste” of money.
- What is up with sexualizing children? Why on Earth would someone slut-shame a child? That is insane to me. Unless you are some kind of clairvoyant with future-telling powers, shut up.
- Some people come into their sexuality very early in life. Some are late bloomers that don’t really understand attraction until they are double digits. But I guarantee that boy smearing blue eyeshadow onto his eyelids will not “turn” him gay. Stop doing that to kids.
Makeup can be for children.
- Applying makeup as a child is a form of imaginative play (not a demonstration of their sexuality). It is the same as playing dress up, telling stories, and having imaginary friends. Children need to develop their skills in imagination. That is one of the points of allowing children to draw and use play-doh in the classroom. If their creative outlet lends more toward applying makeup, that should be encouraged within reason. Go check out the toy isle in WalMart. I bet you’ll find a play makeup set. If parents don’t want kids to put real product on their face, parents can give this a whirl. If parents don’t mind the product but don’t want it to be too much, they can stick to tinted/flavored lip balms and clear mascaras. Then, at the end of the day, they can wash it off with them.
- As a side note, teaching a child how to apply makeup (while still staying in the realm of play) can help to develop gross and fine motor skills and develop hand-eye coordination too. It is similar to encouraging children to use scissors, color in the lines, build with blocks, put together puzzles, and so on. Our focus shouldn’t be on if this kid is the next Jon Benet Ramsey or not.
- Another side note, it should go without saying that young children need to be supervised with makeup. We all know many makeup products can be made with nasty chemicals. And we all know young kids tend to put everything in their mouths. Play with them. Talk about makeup like you would talk about the family dog along the lines of when it is okay to play with it, where it is okay to have it, and so on. Give them guidelines and then let them be kids!
- As a country, Americans obsess over teaching children to brush their teeth. It builds the foundation to good oral health later in life. That is a good thing. We also obsess over children covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze. It helps prevent the spread of germs. That is a very good thing. Makeup is no different. That doesn’t mean we have to let them rock ruby lips and black eyeshadow for preschool. But we should be emphasizing skin care (yeah, that is part of the world of makeup) along with dental care and contagious disease prevention.
- How many people struggled as adults to develop a skin care routine? I did. No one ever told me that I should wash my face with anything other than bar soap, let alone use moisturizer or toner. The best advice I got about skin care growing up was to make sure I used sunscreen on my nose!
- By building a foundation of basic skin care (wash your face every night, use moisturizer, use sunscreen, etc.) for both girls and boys, we teach our children the building blocks for good hygiene skills. As someone that worked as a teacher in a Jr. High for 1 year and as the adult sister of 2 early teenagers, I can say this with certainty: Teenagers have a hormone funk that can knock you over. Sorry to any teenagers that are reading this right now. The fact of the matter is that your body is changing and you put off a strong smell. It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl. All of you stink to one degree or another. It is part of your biology.
- These kids fall into 1 of 3 categories:
- teenagers that are oblivious to their rank odor;
- teenagers that know they stink and overcompensate by bathing in perfumes/colognes; and
- teenagers that know they stink and have taken the necessary steps to minimize it (regular bathing, use of and reapplication throughout the day of antiperspirant and deodorant, and appropriate use of perfumes/colognes).
- Sadly, that last group is a rare bird while the other two groups are a fairly even mix, especially as we get out of Jr. High and move into High School. If we built up that foundation of a skin care routine and continued to develop it outward into more hygiene areas as they got older, those rare birds wouldn’t be so alone. It would just be something that we do every day.
- These kids fall into 1 of 3 categories:
- By teaching a skin care routine and making it a normal part of the day, you may save your future teenager from the horrors of teenage acne. It won’t prevent severe hormone-induced acne or hereditary acne but it can minimize the acne teenagers get from not washing their face. They will thank you when they are in their 20s.
Ultimately, I think that people need to lighten up. Makeup should be fun and inclusive, not ridged with rules and exclusive to certain groups. What do you think?