Why I Let My Preteen Wear Makeup

You know when you’re staring down at your fresh faced newborn baby (or even before you HAVE a baby and you know everything there is to know about parenting…) and you swear up and down on a Bible the list of things you’ll NEVER do. “I’ll never let MY baby out of my sight before they’re in preschool”, “I’ll never let MY kids have sugary cereal”, “I’ll never let my child watch 6 hours straight of Dora the Explorer”…you know, those things that you inevitably do because…well…because parenting is a “pick your battles” sort of thing.
I picked one of those battles this weekend. When my baby girl was little, I swore I wouldn’t let her wear makeup till she was 13. Well tonight, I broke that promise and let her spend an ungodly amount of money in the e.l.f. makeup store…for makeup.
Let me explain my reasons for NOT wanting her to wear makeup before I explain WHY I did let her wear it.
I don’t think she needs it because I personally don’t really wear much makeup (and I’m a hell of a lot more wrinkled than she is). When I remember to put it on, I usually wear blush and eyeliner…foundation just to even out my skin tone and attempt to cover up some wrinkles. If I’m feeling feisty I might throw on some eyeshadow. Mascara is a very rare occurrence and only if I know there’s NO WAY I’m going to cry. As far as lipstick goes…well, I actually wore chapstick to my wedding after wiping off the lipstick that my makeup artist lady put on me.
I don’t wear too much makeup because A.it’s a hassle. I quite honestly would prefer the extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning as opposed to spending 20 minutes every morning making myself look like (in the words of my teenage son) “a powdered donut”. B. I really don’t think makeup does much for me anyway. You can barely tell I have it on. C. It’s friggin’ expensive as hell. I’d much rather get a pedicure than buy a $20 brush to blend my cheekbones. D. I hate taking it off at night. I’m not too ashamed to admit there’s been a time or (twenty)two when I haven’t.
So basically, makeup isn’t really important to me. Sure I wear it to weddings and parties and anytime I might run into Channing Tatum. In those situations, I want to look my best. Overall though, my self worth isn’t in what I look like and I have confidence without it. However, if I think back, it took quite a few years to get to that point in time. When I was 12 and 13, I didn’t feel so confidant about my looks. Or myself for that matter. When I was her age, I thought what you looked like (and more importantly what people thought of you) was the most important thing in the world. The middle school girls I work with everyday are a mix as far as how they feel about their looks and subsequently, how confidant they are. I see plenty who, thank goodness, don’t seem to care how they look, but still are clean and neat and presentable. And I see others that I just want to hug and say “Honey, you don’t need all that crap on your face to be beautiful…have confidence to believe you’re beautiful without it.” Because after all, makeup may help you boost your self esteem, but it does nothing for your feelings of self worth.
I never want my daughter’s self worth to be based on looks. I want her to realize she’s smart and funny and a good friend…I want her to realize those are the things that are important. I want her to like what she sees in the mirror without a need to “fix” or “Cover up” anything. At 11 years old, her face is fresh and blemish free…as far as I’m concerned, she needs nothing to make herself look better (except maybe to comb her hair on a daily basis but that’s a battle for another day). I don’t want her to ever think she needs makeup to face the world. I know MANY women who won’t even leave the house without makeup on, not wanting anyone to see their flaws. I don’t want my daughter to ever feel this way. I want my daughter to know that she can run to the local grocery store in sweats, hair piled on top of her head, sans makeup…and nobody will think less of her. But she’s got to get there herself. I can’t make that journey for her.
She has to figure out how she wants to present herself to the world.
Currently, she makes little to no effort to look like a presentable human being on a daily basis. Getting her out of bed for school should actually be a method of torture. There are days she’s still in bed when we need to leave…forget brushing her hair…I’m lucky if she changes out of her pjs.
For the last couple days, since she’s been asking to wear makeup, she’s been brushing her hair and actually making a slight effort to not look like she rolled out of bed 7 minutes before. Therefore I decided, what the hell. Let her wear some makeup if it gives her incentive to get out of bed, if it gives her a little boost of self esteem, if it makes her feel a little more normal. Most likely her interest in makeup will peter out, much like my own did after fighting my mom to wear it. And even if it doesn’t, maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m thinking it will be. I just hope to God the look she’s going for is “understated” and not “rodeo clown”. But even if she goes for “rodeo clown”, she’ll still be my beautiful rodeo clown.

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