Kids and Makeup: What’s Okay?

kidsandmakeuppMy mother was strict as hell about makeup and not very strict about much else. I wasn’t allowed to wear any until I got into high school, supposedly.

Did that stop me? Hell no. I simply hid my makeup use from my mom. I put it on each day on the school bus, using a lighter to heat up the blue pencil liner so it would glide on smoothly (don’t ask how many times I burned my eyes but it was A LOT) before I added my blue eyeshadow and shiny Bonnie Bell lipgloss (it was the ’70s DON’T JUDGE).

Can we pause for a moment about how unlikely it would be today that ten tween girls would be allowed to use lighters on a school bus? It was like a weird thing; the bus doors closed, the bus moved, and a dozen lighters lit up.


It’s Halloween, of course, which is pretty much the only time kids of all ages are allowed to enjoy using a little makeup (or even a lot). So when my daughter and her playdate friend asked if they could have some makeup to play with this weekend, I said sure, and handed over the not-too-old-to-be-gross-but-I-no-longer-use-it makeup to the girls.

They went crazy. They primarily were trying to put My Little Pony cutie marks on their cheeks, which is adorable, but then also decided to give each other “Nefy” makeup (my daughter is obsessed with Nefertiti; I know, it’s weird and awesome). They would come over to me and my husband to show us what they’d done and they were adorable as could be.

But then I started thinking about those kids on Toddlers and Tiara and Jon Benet Ramsey and and and… I kind of freaked out.

It wasn’t too long ago that my daughter’s ballet studio required she wear her hair and makeup a particular way for the annual dance recital and I balked at putting that much makeup on my five year old. Yet just a year and a half later, I’m handing over eyeshadow and eyeliner and telling her to have at it.

I’m a little conflicted about it. My mother was a ’70s era women’s libber feminist, and she eschewed shaving her legs and armpits and refused to wear makeup, claiming it all was symptoms of the patriarchy and bad for women (about the shaving, my mother would shake her fist and say, “Shaving makes us look like little girls!” and this was LONG before the brazilian wax trend). I argued with her in high school because I simply adored makeup and loved wearing it and didn’t feel like it made me less of a feminist to do so.

But I’m pretty sure makeup on a seven year old is just not okay.

For now, I’m just going to permit it for playtimes only. She won’t be allowed to leave the house wearing it (unless it’s for her Halloween costume, of course, but she’s decided to go as Derpy Hooves from My Little Pony and that’s not much at all), but I can’t see banning it outright.

What do you do? Have you established rules about makeup yet?

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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