[Beauty Overheard] It’s 10 PM. Do You Know What Makeup Your Daughter is Wearing?

So here is what I’m stuck on, from this morning’s New York Times piece on tweens wearing makeup:

“I’m using the choose-your-battles kind of parenting,” Mrs. Pometta, an independent publicist from Plainfield, Ill., reasoned in a telephone interview. “I figured, better that she’s informed and has the right tools than she goes into it blindly with her friends in the bathroom and comes out looking like a clown.”

Mrs. Pometta’s daughter, Alyssa, is 11, and among the 18 percent of 8-12 set who wear mascara regularly (15 percent wear eyeliner and lipstick).

Now I get the “better she’s informed” argument when it comes to your kid and safe sex. I get it when it comes to letting your child have a sip of wine at dinner. Because  these are life experiences that have pretty dire consequences if they go badly. The worst-case scenario that Mrs. Pometta is warding off? “Looking like a clown.”

Alyssa is 11. And wearing makeup. Of course she should look like a clown! She should be playing around, figuring out what she likes and dislikes, putting on purple eye shadow at sleepover parties and expressing herself and what not.

But Mrs. Pometta isn’t talking about sleepover parties. She’s talking about Alyssa wearing makeup every day. To cover blemishes, lengthen her eyelashes, make her lips more pink. To cover up what she perceives to be her flaws.

And by taking Alyssa for that makeover, Mrs. Pometta let her know that she sees those flaws, too.

PS. While clearly, I think this article could have done a better job of digging into the body image ramifications of this trend, I was psyched to see writer Douglas Quenqua take on the environmental-health risks of kids putting all this crap on their faces. Plus, excellent quote by our friend Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face, and spokesperson for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Yay!



Filed under Beauty Overheard, beauty standards, week 24

4 responses to “[Beauty Overheard] It’s 10 PM. Do You Know What Makeup Your Daughter is Wearing?

  1. Melissa

    Actually, I’m really surprised that it’s only 18%. Then again, I went to a private school at that age, and ALL the rules are different in that culture. (For example, it was “gross” if any girl didn’t shave her legs from about age 10 on. I was a nerd with no friends who somehow didn’t catch on to this until I was almost 12. Oops.)

    Anyway, if 82% of girls in the “real world” don’t start wearing makeup until they’re 13, I think that’s pretty cool.

    You’re completely right though, the “better she’s informed” concept just seems so wrong when the issue at hand is makeup. ‘Cause heaven forbid she learns it on the streets!! lol

  2. Louise

    I looked like a clown at that age! my favourite makeup was a bright-blue eyeshadow that came in a yellow triangular container with a seal on it. For little girls, makeup should be a fun crazy thing, like experimenting with wardrobe and crazy nailpolish colours – dress-up, not fix-up!

  3. I remember being 11 and playing with makeup (but that was a long time ago). My mother had received an offer through the mail to join a makeup club but she through it away. I dug the form out of the trash, sent it in and Voila! makeup magically started arriving through the mail. I wore it all, eyeshadow, lipstick, blush. Yes, when I think back on it I know I probably looked ridiculous but there wasn’t any of the ramifications that there are now. No one looked at me as if I were a street walker or an easy target. It just goes to show you that times have changed dramatically. Mainstream media has taken innocence and having fun playing dress up and turned it into something that is dirty and suggestive. I long for the days of the past.

  4. I agree and there are many aspects of this that are overlooked from what’s now being found as acceptable in our culture to the health consequences that are sometimes blown out of proportion and other times, not given enough consideration.

    My mother worked for a cosmetic manufacturer when I was a child and I remember being 12 and only being able to “play” with make-up at home. I was barely allowed to even wear it in my teens!

    I personally think that mothers who allow their child daughters to wear makeup are projecting their own insecurities or perceived failings onto their daughters at the most high risk time in their life in terms of overall healthy development.

    Moms, Wake-up, Don’t Make-up!

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