Talking to my daughters about beauty was harder than I expected


“Mommy, why do you put on make-up?”

I do not keep in mind how outdated my first daughter was when she requested me that query, however I do keep in mind feeling unprepared for it. Such a easy and affordable query looks like it ought to have a easy and affordable reply, however as I checked out her younger face, I considered how my reply might form her total view of girls and wonder and her personal self-image.

The total fact of why I put on make-up is sophisticated, as I am certain it’s for most ladies. I began carrying make-up primarily to cowl up pimples as a teen, however I keep in mind being youthful and feeling intrigued by eye make-up on journal fashions. I began to fiddle round with eye shadow and eye liner as a result of it was enjoyable to “paint” my face.

I like carrying make-up and all the time have. It really might be enjoyable, however I might be fooling myself to imagine that societal requirements of magnificence do not additionally play a major function in my decisions now. I put on make-up as a result of it makes me really feel prettier and extra “put collectively,” even when it is only a fast five-minute routine. It makes my pores and skin look higher and brighter and it brings out my eyes. I consider it as enhancing my magnificence fairly than creating it.

There’s nothing flawed or uncommon about that, however every thing will get seen by means of a special lens if you’re explaining one thing to a toddler—particularly our personal youngster.

I’ve by no means needed to place society’s arbitrary and unattainable magnificence requirements on my daughters. I needed them to reject something that instructed them they weren’t ok simply as they’re. I did not need them to really feel like they wanted to put on make-up to really feel lovely; I needed them to decide on how one can outline magnificence for themselves. I needed them to really feel comfy sufficient in their very own pores and skin to go with out make-up, but in addition assured sufficient in their very own decisions to do no matter they needed with their faces.

How might I clarify why I put on make-up in a approach that conveyed all of that to my younger daughter with out prematurely planting these pressures in her thoughts?

If this all sounds overwrought and overthought, it’s. Welcome to womanhood, the place each alternative we make about our our bodies is a mishmosh of historic patriarchy and company advertising and marketing, with some fixed self-judgment and overanalysis thrown in for good measure.

My husband and I needed to do what we might to ease these pressures for our women, so we tried to speak about magnificence in a approach that was genuine and wholesome as they had been rising up. From the start, we talked lots about magnificence being about your internal state, not your outer presentation. We needed our women to internalize that message deeply earlier than years of advertisements and billboards and magazines and Victoria’s Secret instructed them in any other case.

That was a strong parenting alternative, however I could not assist however marvel if me placing on make-up felt like a combined message. Was I being hypocritical, preaching that magnificence on the within is what issues, however attempting to make myself extra lovely on the skin? One might take that argument to an excessive, not partaking in any grooming in any respect as a result of outer magnificence is only a facade, however that simply appears foolish and flawed. Finally, I instructed her the reality in all its sophisticated glory.

“As a result of I believe it is enjoyable,” I stated, realizing that may in all probability simply make her wish to put on it when she was nonetheless approach too younger.

“And since it makes me really feel extra ‘put collectively,'” I stated, hoping that would not make her view girls who do not put on make-up as not put collectively.

“And since it highlights my pure magnificence,” I stated, figuring out that the fixed questions on what counts as magnificence would quickly start to bombard her.

It wasn’t an ideal reply, nevertheless it was trustworthy and generally trustworthy is the very best we will do.

My daughters are 22 and 18 now, and since that preliminary query we have had many extra conversations about make-up, magnificence, private grooming and the way society and people decide such issues. Fortunately, I discovered it simpler to speak about magnificence as they grew older, as they began to grasp how pressures from folks we all know and folks we do not can impression the alternatives we make.

These pressures can go each methods, they discovered. One among my daughters felt strain not to put on make-up and needed to navigate her approach by means of doing what was proper for her. I am completely happy to say that they’ve grown into younger girls who query magnificence requirements and problem folks’s judgments from all sides, in the end touchdown on what makes them really feel finest in their very own pores and skin. That is actually all I had hoped for them.

Phew. Being a girl on this world might be sophisticated, however elevating girls on this world is fully next-level.

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