My First Grader’s Makeup Looks Better Than Mine

I originally titled this post “My 6-Year-Old Is Obsessed with Makeup and That’s Okay, So You Can Fuck Right Off with Your Judgement (But Please Send Help Because I Don’t Know How to Girl so How Can I Be Expected to Teach Someone Else How to Girl?!?), But it seemed a little lengthy, so I tweaked it. My daughter’s first personal experience with makeup came in the form of a Little Mermaid bath toy. When she was four, her aunt and uncle gifted her a Princess Ariel vanity set which included lipstick, eye shadow, and blush that washed off with water in the tub. She took to it immediately and quickly depleted the supply of makeup. After that, she began to occasionally ask me to put a little bit of my makeup on her before we went somewhere special. I complied with the classic light-colored eye shadows, clear lip glosses, and maybe a little bit of blush combination that mothers indulge their toddlers with. It didn’t seem like long before the requests were not only becoming more frequent but were also accompanied by more specific demands. She wanted more color, more sparkle (who doesn’t, amIright?). She wanted to be able to see the difference when she looked in the mirror.

The summer just before she turned six she started sitting down beside me each day as I applied my makeup, and doing her own using her mismatched collection of pieces accumulated from her figure skating competitions and my drawer of unused stuff. She got pretty competent (with little direction from me), but she was still limited to fairly innocuous colors. About a month after school started, she asked if she could wear makeup to school. I hesitated briefly, because it was freaking kindergarten, but the response I settled on was, “if you are otherwise ready to walk out the door and still have time, THEN you can do your makeup”.

Y’all. We were never late to school again.

———That’s a complete lie. We were late many times, BUT it was rarely her fault. Usually the toddler or the puppy was to blame………

Throughout the school year her interest in makeup waxed and waned. I honestly assumed it would eventually fizzle out completely, so naturally the opposite happened. We are now a few weeks out from the start of first grade, and she has been consistently applying makeup at least once a day, sometimes wiping the slate clean and starting over mid-day, or simply layering on top of her last iteration. She has recently become proficient in applying mascara AT SIX YEARS OLD.

At this point I think it’s important to note that I am not a big makeup person. While my daughter prefers a bolder look, I am an eyeliner, mascara, concealer, and go kinda woman. When the mood strikes me to rock a more daring look, like red lip color, I almost always wipe it off because I’m not confident that I can pull it off. My daughter has no such complex, and I am damn sure not going to give it to her. I can handle the obvious looks in the grocery store from people who don’t approve of letting little girls have so much cosmetic freedom, after all I got plenty of practice when I let her put pink dye in her hair when she was four. But lately, I have been thinking that it is time to have a conversation with her about it, because school is quickly approaching and she is going to have to settle into a regiment that doesn’t require 45 minutes, three makeup remover wipes, and a dozen q-tips. It would also be fantastic if she developed a look that doesn’t leave me anticipating a note from her teacher.

I started researching ways to talk to young girls about makeup and was disappointed in the results that I found. Most were geared toward parents of preteens and teens. The ones that did address younger kids generally took the position that makeup should be allowed rarely, if ever, at before middle school. This is not the approach that I am choosing to take with my daughter. I refuse to die on this hill, and I have no desire to add to the allure of makeup by forbidding it. She likes makeup. Since she was very young, she has had a unique style of dressing and her favorite activities have always been the kind that mean I find beads and glitter in every corner of the house. Makeup honestly seems like a natural progression in her creative journey of self-expression, and I see no reason not to embrace it. Her face is a canvas, and she is exploring different ways to make her art. The results of these experiments vary from tasteful to Mimi junior, but she is figuring out what she likes and I am not going to discourage that process.

What I would like to do, however, is ensure that she maintains a healthy relationship with makeup. I never want her to wear it for anyone but herself. I want her to be comfortable in her own skin without it. I also want her to understand that there is a difference between competition/performance makeup and everyday makeup. Multiple layers of glitter and mascara look great from the bleachers of an ice rink, but are not necessarily appropriate for school. These are the topics I would like to cover with her, but they are delicate and the internet is not offering the guidance I am looking for. In this case I am going to have to use my own words and hope for the best. I’ll keep you posted.

Signed,

The mom who lets her kid dye her hair pink and wear makeup

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