Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Kiddos Tuesdays when I discuss issues related to the kiddos.
My twin daughters attended private school until they finished the second grade. At that point, they were in an institution that had students from pre-K to the eighth grade. All of the girls began wearing makeup in the sixth grade so when Emmi, my girly girl, asked when she could begin wearing makeup, I said the 6th grade. At that point, we had planned on keeping them in the same school until they graduated from the 8th so I didn’t see the point in fighting that battle. Flash forward a few months, the third-grade teacher quits homeschooling her child. We strongly disliked her replacement combined with her unwillingness to safeguard Emmi against tree nuts in her classroom and her continual demand to overmedicate Andy’s ADHD, we decided to homeschool. At that point, I forgot about our makeup discussion until the girls were getting ready to begin the 6th grade. Actually, I didn’t remember then either. Emmi was the one that remembered and she was quick to remind me I had agreed to let them wear makeup at that point. Fudge! I hate that the kids’ have a better memory than I do nowadays. Had I remembered, I could have worked on it for several months. You know, adjusted that date, probably from the 6th grade to maybe 7th or 8th. But caught up against it, I couldn’t do that. I had to keep my word — because I always keep my word I believe it’s something important. However, just like my girls, I do believe in negotiations so I hit them head-on.
I told all three girls that they could wear makeup twice a week and special events as long as they had a good nighttime routine. This meant that they had to use makeup remover, washed their faces, put on night cream and acne medication EVERY NIGHT. I knew that Dora and Andy would not follow this nighttime routine. Emmi was a bit of a wildcard so I had a 50/50 chance, and it was better than zero, right?. As I expected, Andy had no interested in makeup. She likes the natural look. And Dora? Well, she has an interest in makeup, but she just couldn’t follow through with the routine. Unfortunately, Emmi got it pat down all summer long. Never a complaint, never an excuse. I never had to remind her. She did it all on her own.
Of course, Emmi looked at me expectantly and I knew that it was time to follow through on my promise. Ahh! My heart ached! I don’t believe in cheap makeup that ruins the skin so I went to my favorite brand: Prescriptives. I mean, after all, I have been wearing them for longer than the girls have been around. And they are a good brand. So I got her Flawless Skin Concealer, Full Coverage, Natural Finish, All Skins Mineral Makeup, Sheer Coverage, Matte Finish, and Blush. I didn’t allow her to wear Mascara unless it was a really special event. And I went with cheap lipstick and eyeshadows that we could choose from the makeup counter at Target, our favorite store. Frankly, because I knew she was going to ruin the lipsticks — at least in the beginning and I didn’t think that she was gonna use the eyeshadow very much. And that, in fact, turned out to be the case. She only really goes for the eyeshadow on special occasions like a party or a dance performance.
So we sat down with all the makeup and I taught her how to do the fresh-natural makeup look. It uses a light base to give you an even tone, with subtle colors to accentuate the features. It makes you look ‘all peaches and pinks’, just like you’re blushing. It’s the perfect makeup look when you want to look great but not all made-up. And it has the benefit of making you look flawless, while not distracting from your natural features. I find it to be the most appropriate everyday look for young girls. Heavy makeup? I don’t think so.
I told Emmi that the dramatic, bold and loud makeup was on her, she could go to youtube, and learn how to do it on her own. She really enjoys the tutorials and trying new things out. However, she could only wear this type of makeup for recitals or special occasions agreed upon by me beforehand. I don’t like those kinds of surprises. Really. These are not the type of surprises I want to deal with in public.
Emmi has an amazing, charming personality that captivates all — with or without makeup. She is a pretty girl that turns into a real beauty, though, with the least amount of enhancement. The combination is explosive. She is a true delight to the eye. I know — you’re thinking that I’m bragging a little. Probably. She is my daughter! But often, I receive these types of compliments on her behalf. Certainly all the moms we know at the homeschool groups and at the co-op and other assorted adults really love Emmi’s natural makeup look and charm. However, her peers are not at all kind and have a very different attitude towards Emmi’s style.
Andy, Emmi’s twin sister, is her number one critic. Andy is a gorgeous girl that often turns people’s heads in public spaces. I mean, I often get asked if she can be photographed by complete strangers and of course, the answer is NO. However, she likes the natural look which she defines as no makeup, no shaving, or anything that requires products to change or shape, her appearance in any way. This is a great attitude that comes with a great deal of self-confidence. I love it, but don’t love how critical she is of anyone who doesn’t conform to her definition of natural beauty.
Dora, the girl’s sister, tried to be nice about it, but she really struggled. Her primary problem was that she had not earned the right to wear the makeup. She was inconsistent in her nightly skin routine. So this made her angry. Why, or how was it that someone else could do what she hadn’t been able to do? It just didn’t seem fair. However, Emmi was really nice about it. She encouraged Dora to stick to it so she could join her in her makeup adventures. I thought it was really sweet the way that Emmi did everything she could to help Dora meet her goal.
Emmi’s friends really surprised me with the level of unkind vitriol. They criticized her makeup by saying it was too much. It was not. She didn’t put on enough. There was a good balance on her face. She wore it too often. But, she only actually only wore it twice in a week. The topic of every get together became Emmi’s face. This was really upsetting to Emmi who couldn’t understand why her friends had turned on her. Now, mind you that the other girls who were the cruelest had permission to wear makeup. They simply chose not to wear it for a variety of reasons, the strongest being that mom purchased the melange, but didn’t teach them how to use it. So these poor girls would attempt to put it on their own and looked like clowns from IT. While I understand how bad they felt because my mom had done the same thing to me, I didn’t appreciate the way that they were tearing Emmi’s self-esteem down.
Frankly, I think it’s really sad that women begin tearing each other down at such a young age. All of the work previous generations have done to improve women’s lives, and yet we haven’t learned to stop tearing each other down. I say we because I think as mothers we have to be doing something wrong if we can’t turn this around. We really need to talk to our daughters and ask them to stop putting other girls down. Stop hating girls who have the attributes you wish you had. Stop feeling threatened and insecure and jealous because that’s just getting in the way of you knowing a really awesome human being. You! No one can ever be the best you but you! And, when you are the best you, you can also bring the best in your friends so they can be their best too. When we help each other achieve that self-confidence, it is when we are truly empowered, and can be and do anything we want.
But it wasn’t just the girls. The mothers of boys have their own challenges. I quickly learned that many of the moms at Emmi’s various activities were telling their sons that she wore makeup to attract THEM. Emmi was extremely upset since she wears makeup simply because she enjoys being a girlie girl. It has nothing to do with boys. And frankly, I was angry too! I couldn’t help but think these women were the type of people who are convinced that sexual assault is the victim’s fault because she was asking for it by dressing the way that she does. I was absolutely disgusted! No wonder men have felt entitled to treat women however they want! We teach our little boys to believe this type of behavior is tolerated. I say we because I suddenly realized that now I’m the mother of a boy! I don’t know how I’m going to bring Bug, my four-year-old, up in a society that creates a culture of entitlement for the male sex. How am I going to teach him that it is not funny to harass little girls or tug on them and assume that the girls like it? I’m going to have to figure it out as I go because I would like to believe that I learned something from the #metoo movement and the way in which men with a sense of self-entitlement crossed lines. I mean it just led to the destruction of their careers, families, and sometimes even their freedom. I began by drawing clear lines of behavior, just as I had done with my girl, and not backing down. And, I made it clear that what these moms were telling their sons was not acceptable and it certainly wasn’t true. Before you tell me that he is too young to understand, well, I know that Bug is only four. But I also know that I want him to be part of the conversations I have with his sisters. So, he will grasp the information as he matures. In the meantime, it will be a normal part of his upbringing to have these types of discussions.
Amazing isn’t it? Makeup unearthed a whole host of social problems I had not expected. I thought my biggest challenge would be getting the girls to learn to take care of their skin. It turned into something completely different. But then being a mother has been the greatest learning challenge of my life. I hope I’m always able to rise to the challenge. I hope that when I fail, my fellow mamas help me get back on the right track. That track always being the ultimate goal: helping to create socially responsible, self-sufficient, and happy individuals. Whether we have sons or daughters.