With this new series, my intention is to help foster and nurture an open and profound bond between father and daughter, one that transcends the awkwardness of puberty. (I wrote about it in more detail here.)
And in that spirit, I’ve agreed that once a week I will answer – honestly – any question my husband puts to me.
So, here’s what hubby has come up with for me this week…
Hubby: Last week I asked you about hair removal, and it got me to thinking more specifically about the teen years and the fact that our little girl won’t be little forever. (As I’m not a girl I’m not going to say anything twee like ‘boo’ -as I imagine you would – because let’s face it, coming from a bloke that would be plain ridiculous. But you can be sure of the fact I’m already dreading it.) Anyway – make-up. When? How? Can we prevent it until she leaves home?
Me: Aw, reasonable question; apart from that last bit, which is perhaps a little unrealistic (though I totally feel you!).
Drawing on my own experience, I really don’t recall at what age I began experimenting with make-up, or how it came to pass – which with hindsight, I find somewhat odd… As I mentioned last week, my mum was very strict in many ways, but I don’t remember that being the case with make-up. Perhaps I moderated my experimentation to a level of acceptability, and thus she didn’t feel the need to intervene? All I do know is, with a little direction, I could have been spared some embarrassment…
I’ve been telling you just this week about how Pixie is already captivated by my array of ablutions. She is obsessed with all manner of creams – face; lip; hand; body; even nappy cream. She isn’t fussed about its intended purpose – she Wants. It. All. And more recently, that fascination has progressed onto make-up: I now have to pretend-draw-on her eyebrows, and I allow her to use a clean powder pad to pat onto her little cheeks.
She literally climbs onto my lap and has to sit there and be involved as I apply my face each morning. Which, naturally, I try to appreciate for its memory-making virtues (and view as cute rather than irritating when I’m in a hurry to get us out the door).
With all this in mind, I see a natural progression to becoming her tutor (in due, due, due course, ie. a long way into the future; like years). Perhaps that’s naïve and fanciful, but there it is nonetheless: I imagine it to be a sacred mother-daughter bonding experience. I also hope this will allow her to gain an early insight into/understanding of what can be achieved with make-up – the good, the bad, and the downright tacky.
In many ways I suppose I wish I’d learned these things at an earlier age myself. After all, experimentation is all well and good – but in the meantime you are literally wearing your mistakes. On your face. Not cool.
I’d like to take our daughter to a department store for a browse, and spend some time explaining the different items available. Having picked out some appropriate products, I’d allow her to have the whole instore-makeover experience. (Before bringing out a mirror and wetwipes and explaining why we never let a stranger put make-up on us; thus instilling a deeper understanding of the downright tacky I mentioned earlier.)
Then we’d take a few samples home and experiment together, or if she felt a little self-conscious I’d leave her to it.
There are so many products available these days I think it would be foolish not to provide some guidance. Not only in terms of what’s likely to work for her skin and colouring – but also as to what is and is not appropriate at a given age, and in a given situation.
For example, if our daughter is cursed with acne (and let’s face it, with us as her parents it will be a fine miracle if she isn’t), then I don’t want to deprive her of products which could help disguise those blemishes and make her feel more confident. But I certainly do not want her to be rocking tidemarks and an orange face.
Imperatively though, I am extremely conscious of the connotations of make-up and the idea of being inadvertently complicit in the sexualisation of our child.
This is of utmost importance to me, and I feel it is my job as her mum to be involved in helping our daughter to make appropriate choices in this context. (Naturally, it would be great for you to participate, only I’m not convinced she’d accept your advice on lipstick… But, by all means, go for your life.)
When Should We Allow Our Daughter to Wear Make-Up?
To address your specific question of when we should we allow her to use make-up, that’s both simple and impossible for me to answer: when it becomes appropriate.
To respond decisively requires that we make judgements of a teenager who does not yet exist.
And I’m not prepared to do that. Couched in these terms, I don’t think you will be either. So we must….wait.
Ultimately, by making small allowances as we see fit, I hope we’ll avoid covert behaviours taking place behind our backs. As I’ve spoken about at length over the weeks, I want to foster openness and honesty.
Of course it’s daunting to discuss the prospect of our daughter starting to use make-up, and impossible to pinpoint when it may happen. But it’s necessary for us to be prepared for how we intend to handle the inevitable milestone. Executed carefully and thoughtfully, we can ensure a smooth transition that we’re all comfortable with.
Like this? You can check out more of my hubby’s ponderings (and my attempts to answer them) here.