How Do I Talk to My Daughter About Make-Up?
I remember when I was in the classroom with a bunch of 9-year-old girls who were hotly debating the topic of make-up and their parents’ attitudes towards it. When they asked me “Why do women wear make-up?” I answered, from the bottom of my soul, “Because it’s fun!”
Now, I think there’s much more to it than that.
I believe in the awesome power of beauty and how it affects our souls.
True beauty, whether in the form of a woman, a man, an animal, a costume, a flower, a beautiful human-built structure, a natural scene, or something else, affects us at a visceral lever. The feminine recognizes that power, and recognizes the power to affect others, to make them smile, and to bring joy. That power has been warped and twisted by our culture, and beauty in the female form has been overlaid and mixed up with sexuality, but beauty, with or without sexuality, is a very powerful force.
Little girls love to explore the effects of beauty, and they love to adorn themselves with beautiful things, for the sheer joy of being wrapped in beauty, and for the power that comes with carrying beauty.
With my own daughter, I gave her good quality make-up as soon as she showed an interest (age 3). I showed her how to use it, and I often remind her that the goal of make-up is to bring out the eyes, in order to allow and encourage people to connect with you, and to invite them to see into your heart.
We both wear make-up when we’re doing something fancy, “to be fancy” and I wear make-up “to be professional” in the same way that I wear different clothes for coaching or teaching than I do for days at home.
As girls grow up, I think they need to understand that the huge power of their beauty can inspire sexual feelings in men, and they need to understand the difference between sexual beauty and simple beauty, and how to value and honour the power of their sexuality.
In our culture, most women have grown up with very mixed feelings about beauty, because women are so objectified as sexual objects in North America. (Watch MissRepresentation if you haven’t yet.) Beauty is misunderstood and thought to be silly, and as a corollary, women are, too. We are led to believe that we can either be beautiful, OR be intelligent, and that a beautiful woman looks a certain, very specific, way. We are led to believe that the only reason a woman would want to be beautiful is to attract a man, and that if we are NOT that specific kind of beautiful, then we aren’t attractive to men.
In my mind, the only way to undo these wrong ideas, and the only way to empower our daughters (and sons) is to re-educate them, to help them to think about beauty and sexuality as powerful, wonderful, sacred forces, and to act accordingly.
The key is to confront the conversation head on, as soon as you feel the question in the actions and the words of your daughter, and to keep the conversation open. Tell your daughter what you believe and what messages you see being shared in our culture that don’t feel true to you. It’s not to tell her what to think, but to open her up to questioning and asking “why?” and “is it true?” about the messages that our culture offers.
To deepen your child’s relationship with beauty, offer real, good quality, beautiful things, and avoid tacky, plastic, commercial “beautiful” things. Enjoy beauty yourself. Drape yourself in it without shame or disdain. Admire it wherever you see it, and look for it in surprising places.
(At Princess Training Camp, we don’t do make-up, but we revel in beauty and colour and lovely things. I’d love to invite your daughter to join us! It’s July 13-17th, 2015, and it finishes up with a Fancy Dress Ball that you get to attend, too – so start now, planning your most beautiful adornment. We’d love to see you there! www.PrincessTrainingCamp2015.eventbrite.com .)