I have an eight year old daughter and I let her wear make up.
My daughter is a beautiful child. She is a CHILD. She does not need make up to look pretty. And yet, when she is getting ready for her school disco I will be curling her long blonde hair, painting her nails, applying mascara to her (annoyingly-much-longer-than-mine) lashes and brushing pink blusher onto her mini apple-shaped cheeks.
Before you begin, I’ve heard it all before. I’m tarnishing her innocence, I’m putting too much value on looks, I’m treating her like a doll and (the worst accusation a mother could hear) I’m ‘sexualising’ my child. So why do I allow it?
I wear make up every day, my daughter has watched me apply it countless times and she understands why I use it. She also knows that I wear more make up when I am going out for the evening. One recent night, while she was getting ready for her school disco, she asked if she could wear a little bit of make up so I applied mascara, blusher and glitter eye-shadow to her tiny face.
Strike me down for saying it but she looked lovely and, more importantly, she felt she looked the belle of the ball. When she got home from the disco later, she told me that lots of people had told her how beautiful she looked.
Now doing her make up for the discos is part of the ritual. I wouldn’t allow her to wear make-up that looked sexy, too mature or vampy but as long as it’s minimal and light, I’m quite happy for her to wear it.
She may only be eight years old, but today’s eight year olds girls are a far cry from the eight year olds I knew in the 90’s. When I was my daughter’s age, children dressed totally differently to the adults. We played outside and only ever saw cameras at special occasions. Nowadays the lines between adult and children’s fashion are very blurry; my daughter owns maxi dresses, ripped denim shorts and other items that I would probably pick out for myself!
Today’s children use their parent’s phones to take selfies and they are aware that their parents are putting the prettiest photos of them online for other people to comment on how gorgeous they are. My daughter and her friends talk about boys. Whether I like it or not, she’s growing up sooner and faster than I did and I have realised I can either fight against it or roll with it.
I’ve decided to roll with it.
I do not believe children should be treated older than they are, but it’s difficult to ignore the obvious shift in our society in which our children are ever-aware of how they present themselves to the world. Do I like it? Not always. But I feel confident that putting a bit of mascara on my daughter’s lashes is not going to lead to anything sinister. I am not conditioning her for adulthood, I am not sexualising her appearance and I am not damaging her innocence. She is a girl who wants to look nice, for herself and, dare I say it, for others. That’s the world she is growing up in.
I allow it, because I get it.
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