I wear makeup every day. Every. Single. Day. Without fail. I started when I was about 13 with lip gloss and mascara and now, at age 32, it makes me entirely uncomfortable to leave the house without foundation, blush, eye shadow, eye liner and mascara. Why is this? And what sort of message am I sending to my sweet, 2 ½ year old daughter, Charlotte, when she watches me apply my mask of makeup every morning and I can’t even take her to the grocery store or the neighborhood pool (THE POOL!) without it? The conversation usually goes like this:
Charlotte: “Mommy, what you doing?”
Me: “I’m putting on my makeup.”
Charlotte (with much enthusiasm): “I put on makeup, too!”
Me: “No, sweetie, you don’t need makeup. You’re perfect just the way you are.”
Obviously, my intentions are good, but what am I really telling her? That she’s perfect and that mommy isn’t? That when she’s older (and looks exactly like me, by the way), then she’s no longer perfect? Then she, too, will need to spend 20 minutes every morning applying makeup to cover up her imperfections and enhance her features? That women have to wear makeup to feel good about themselves?
Those are certainly not the beliefs I want to instill in my daughter. I don’t have all the answers, but I do recognize that I need to make some changes in order to show my daughter what true beauty is and what (if anything) is important when it comes to outward appearances.
These are the beliefs and values regarding beauty that I want to instill in my daughter:
1) It’s not about looks. True beauty is on the inside.
2) I love you just the way you are.
3) No matter how many pimples, spots, scars or wrinkles you have, you are amazing and beautiful. (The same theory applies regarding extra pounds, cellulite, small boobs, pale skin, frizzy hair, etc.)
4) Freckles are cool. They make us unique.
5) Perfection doesn’t exist. Even supermodels have flaws.
6) Flaws are cool. They make us unique.
7) It’s fine to wear makeup (in moderation and when you’re MUCH older), but know that you’re beautiful without it. I am, too.
I doubt I’ll make any huge changes in my makeup routine. I really do think it’s fun to wear makeup and there are obviously much worse vices. But, in an effort to instill the above beliefs and values in my daughter, I will make a concerted effort to a) talk to her about real beauty, b) go without makeup every once in awhile, and c) change my response from “you don’t need makeup…” to “makeup is for grown-ups and when you’re older we can talk about it again.” Maybe I’ll even skip the eyeliner the next time we go to the pool. Baby steps, people.
Thank you Adrienne!
I absolutely love that by getting clear on the values and beliefs you want to instill in Charlotte, it led you to a practical change you can make in your routine. It’s not that you stop wearing the makeup, you simply talk with her about true beauty with intention and put boundaries around makeup, for her.
I’m inspired by your honesty and vulnerability. Those are qualities of true beauty in and of themselves. Charlotte has an amazing role model. She’s a lucky little girl!
Thank you, Crystal! Talking to our children “with intention” about all of the values we hold dear (even those we struggle with ourselves) is so important. And, by the way, your kids have an amazing role model, too! Thanks for all of the work you’re doing on behalf of women everywhere.
Thank you for the lovely post, Adrienne! As I’ve spend time around my nieces this summer (ages 3-9) those questions have also come to my attention. My 3 1/2 year old niece was watching me dust on a bit of blush one day and asked what I was doing, and then WHY. The WHY is what got me thinking and I am entirely with you about not changing everything we do, but rather, being mindful of what we do and why, especially when young girls are watching.
On another note, my sister mentioned that she doesn’t feel beautiful anymore; now that she has a daughter, it’s her daughter’s “turn”. It made me kind of sad. I think she’s beautiful. We now live in a very youth-focused media culture and on top of that, not only are magazine photos manipulated, but even photos of friends and family we see online have usually been re-touched to a certain extent (hello Instagram!) giving us a false sense of reality.
Thanks, Tia! You are so right – as women, we must be mindful of what we do and why when young girls are watching (and boys, too, but for slightly different reasons). Although a lot of mothers probably feel the same way your sister does about it being their “daughter’s turn” to be beautiful, I hope we can all see the beauty (inside and out) that comes with age. Growing up in the age of Photoshop definitely makes it harder for young girls to see themselves as beautiful… That’s something we have to work on as parents (and aunts!).
I love it. “Flaws are cool. They make us unique.” At 32 years old, this is a message I still need to change in my own brain. That somehow if people knew my real flaws, I wouldn’t be cool or awesome anymore. I need to replace the noise with love and remember that I am loved even in all my quirkiness and goofiness.
Thanks, Michelle! It’s probably your quirkiness and goofiness that makes people love you more! How boring would the world be if we all looked and behaved the same? There is so much beauty in authenticity.
You made me tear up when you asked “what message am I sending to my 2.5 year hold?” I’ve got one of those myself. 🙂
When we first started the Moola Hoop campaign, Eli Regalado, asked Crystal and I — Why do you wear makeup?
I agree — It’s fun! I also use it so mask my hyper pigmentation on my forehead. Lordy I wish I didn’t feel like I “had” to wear makeup and I so agree with everything you are saying, but I won’t make any big changes either. I have, however, started to care for myself (including my skin) more so I won’t let it hold me back.
I’ve got big plans and I don’t want to feel embarrassed about my skin when I put my face out there – And you are right if you are guessing this *has* in fact held me back in the past. It takes constant self coaching for me to not be bothered about it.
Thanks, Amber! There’s nothing like viewing your choices and habits through the eyes of your daughter (or son). It really makes you stop and think about the messages you’re sending.
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