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!