The solution was clear mascara. No, I’m not talking about Chemistry here. But I am talking Psychology. 12-year-old girl psychology my psychology. I wanted to wear make-up. Absolutely not my mother responded. I kept pressing, which was very unusual for me. I was into grades and school not make-up and hair. I was also an obedient child. But I wanted those lashes.
Yeah, those lashes.
But was I unknowingly wobbling into the world of criticism that plagues young women about their bodies? About their appearances? Was this my initiation?
It couldâ€™ve been. This is why you need to talk with your daughter about make-up. If sheâ€™s old enough to ask for her own make-up, sheâ€™s old enough for at least one of her parents to discuss the place of make-up, body image, and appearance in an adolescentâ€™s life.
Make-up should be explained to a child as a tool â€“ that itâ€™s along the same vein as a strong handshake or eye contact. However, the intricacies of make-up and its inextricable entanglement in body image also need to be touched upon. For this, I offer two issues to emphasize:
- That make-up can be used properly to make a person look presentable (i.e. it is mostly likely used well on a day-to-day basis conservatively, to accentuate natural features). Make-up is analogous to getting a manicure or pedicure (at that age I was allowed to paint my nails clear or pink colors). Your nails look a bit better with the manicure or pedicure, but they also work just fine without. It’s probably best to get a manicure and/or pedicure for special occasions, but it should be taught that how you feel about wearing one day to day is up to you.
- She chooses what she puts or doesnâ€™t put on her body. Itâ€™s completely fine to take into consideration suggestions from others, but the decision is hers and what she feels comfortable with when it comes to make-up.
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I don’t think that a request for make-up in a 12 year-oldâ€™s case should be automatically dismissed. Instead, that request should be turned into a discussion that you can use as a parent to springboard into other topics of socialization and self-identity. This is especially important in young girls as they grow into young women; the additional parental support will most likely make the paths through tough times more navigable.
Clear mascara and an honest discussion was the solution to my make-up request, what do you think will work for you and your child?