My three year old is really obsessed with makeup. It might seems normal to some of you, that she probably watches me apply makeup and naturally wants to mimic me. But that’s the thing, I rarely wear makeup. In fact, the best I’ve been able to do in a while is apply lipstick and occasionally mascara. At my daughter’s urging, I’ve been tinkering here and there with more. Of course I’ve worried about her being “too young” for makeup. As a society, makeup has people on opposite sides more so when it comes to children wearing it.
On one hand, some believe makeup is a form of creative expression and on the other it gets a bad rap. Some think makeup is attention seeking or a form of manipulation. When it comes to children, makeup is believed by some to sexualize children, which is ridiculous. All I was concerned about was my daughter not damaging her skin or her confidence. I could care less what everyone else thought of a three year old wearing bright red lipstick.
At first when my daughter showed interest in makeup, I brushed it off by simply telling her she was too young. She was persistent, and then I proceeded to tell her that she was pretty with out makeup and didn’t need to wear any. But then, it occurred to me, it was like I was saying that people who wore makeup were not pretty and therefore needed makeup. People wear makeup for all kinds of reasons, and I didn’t want my daughter to judge those who wore makeup harshly.
One day she came home from visiting her cousins, and she was covered in makeup. Literally covered from head to toe and she had a permanent smile on her face for the entire day. Her cousins had let her play with makeup and then it occurred to me that eventually she’d get her hands on it one way or another or come in contact with makeup sooner or later.
I wasn’t sure how to handle it. If I let my three year old wear makeup did that make me a bad mom? If I kept her away from it, was I not allowing her to be herself? I ultimately decided to go with the flow. It’s important to me that I raise a feminist, but I had to remind myself that feminism is about having options. It’s about equality. Although my husband and I exposed our daughter to gender neutral toys and clothes, although she equally wore pink and blue, she gravitated to princess dresses and makeup and that didn’t make her less of a feminist.
I remember when unexpected circumstances lead to me becoming a stay-at-home mom, and people viewed me as less of a feminist. And I didn’t want to do the same to my daughter. I know, this started off as a piece about makeup, how’d it get so deep? The thing is, sometimes we have a warped view on feminism that’s very narrow. That true feminist go against the grain. But I believe true feminism is doing whatever you want regardless of your sex, whether that is being a CEO of a company or a stay-at-home mom. Whether that means wearing dresses or wearing none at all and everything is between.
So we bond over makeup, she’s teaching me more than I could ever teach her. And maybe it’s phase, maybe it’s not. I have set up rules to protect her sensitive skin, I mean she’s only three. But I try my best to let her explore her interests. And she’s gotten me into makeup now too. We’ve recently played around with makeup from Sugary Cosmetics and had a blast.