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Gasp! Tweens are wearing makeup.

Are you shocked to learn that tweens are wearing makeup?

The New York Times seems to think it’s big news. Me? Not so much.

Sure, they cite a recent report from the NPD Group, a consumer market research group, which reports that regular use of certain cosmetics is rising sharply among tween girls.

But the way the Times reports on the story, they make it sound as if wearing lip gloss is just one step away from topless dancing.

Reporter Douglas Quenqua refers to Bonne Bell’s Lip Smackers, the scented lip gloss I collected as a kid, as the “soft soft.” The hard stuff, of course, being lipstick, eyeliner and mascara.

I know it’s just anecdotal evidence, but when I was 11, I was addicted to Bonne Bell — I had one in at least five flavors (Root Beer was my favorite) and yet I never moved on to the hard stuff.

Of course, I realize that times have changed. When I was growing up in the 80s, marketers hadn’t yet invented the term “tweens.”

When my older daughter recently turned eight, she proudly pronounced, “I’m a tween now!” I hated to rain on her b-day parade, but I couldn’t stop myself from correcting her. “You’re still a kid. There’s no such thing as a ‘tween.’ It’s just something companies came up to get you to buy stuff.”

Kids have long tried to look older than their age, but now marketers pressure young girls to aspire to buy products intended for teenagers and adult women.

What’s next? Leg waxing for nine-year-olds?

Interestingly, the Times reports that while tween makeup use has increased, women of all other age groups — including teenagers — have cut back on makeup.

I’m not concerned that experimenting with a little blush and lip gloss is going to turn my daughters into tramps. But there is reason to be worried about the potential damage caused by chemicals in the makeup.

In a study released this month, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine looked at girls younger than 10 with early onset puberty and discovered a high incidence of endocrine disruptors that are found in some nail polishes and other cosmetics. Then, of course, there’s the potential skin damage and possible allergic reactions to the makeup.

Now that’s a much more compelling reason to tell my daughters to hold off on makeup until they’re older.

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