Dear Makeup

Dear Makeup,

Firstly I need to start by saying I virtually never wear you. I think the last time was when 7months preggers and I was on the telly (I mean you probably should then right? I mean millions* of people might have been watching) . I probably literally only wear you once or twice a year. I just find putting you on too much of a faff and can totally cope with my bare face being seen in public. This is mainly because I’m too much of a lazy fucker to spend the required time making my face up of a morning, only to realise by midday my efforts have assumed a rather panda like look and no-body has told me, and I never look in mirrors unless washing my hands after going to the loo, so it will have often been like that for hours until I will notice. Sigh. I can’t even be bothered to wear contacts so I wear huge heavy rimmed glasses – (the bonus being they hide the dark shadows under my eyes quite nicely- who needs Touche Éclat?) Brushing my hair and teeth everyday is about as far as my beauty regime goes.

Anyhow my mum was and is exactly the same- virtually never ever wears you, but still as a kid I remember playing about with her makeup kit loads and then between 12-19 I probably wore you most days (I was a Goth so it could take a while!) until I reached my twenties and was less bothered by it all. So I was interested to read this article where PinkStinks are calling for a ban on the sale of makeup toys to the under 8’s, as I am genuinely not sure how I feel about it.

Firstly kids (boys or girls) mucking about with make-up is just something kids do. I may not have older kids but I know toddlers love it. I know Oddler was enthralled when a friend of ours came round to ours to get ready for a wedding and she got to play a bit with the make-up. TBH I felt a little bit weird about it as the friend was more putting make-up on her than anything else (but then again you wouldn’t let a 2 year old completely loose on your Chanel and other uber expensive brand make-up!) and I didn’t want my daughter “made up” as I feel that is wrong- I don’t want my girls to ever feel like they need to wear make-up in order to be attractive, because I want them to feel beautiful without it, and I worried slightly this might sow some seeds into Oddlers mind about that. But the flipside is -Is Oddler missing out by having a mummy who doesn’t have a makeup bag to cause carnage in? Well I do, but I keep it ontop of the wardrobe (shows how often I use it!) and TBH I am pondering whether I do let her play with it at some point? To me my rather redundant makeup bag is no different than buying her a set of face paints (but without the effort of buying the face paints- see I told you I was lazy). I know she will end up looking like a complete makeup monstrosity and it would be hilarious.

There is NOTHING “sexualised” about a kid of either gender daubing their face in coloured substances. Oddler adores to draw all over herself in felt tip pen! The thing is its the fucked up adults in society who are projecting onto the kids. Some women wear make up, some wear a lot of make up and little girls want to be like their mummies, and they want to do what their mummies do, they aren’t doing it to be perceived as attractive or sexy like their mothers might be, they are just doing it because its what their idol does. So it’s a bit fucked up to freak out so much about kids playing with makeup, when actually what we should maybe be freaking out about is why so many adult women are so not comfortable in their own skins that they have to cover themselves in these make up masks in order to be perceived as beautiful, and then pass on those insecurities to their kids? (As an aside it amuses me how in many bird species it is the male who is expected to be the beautiful one putting on the displays, for the dowdy brown female one to choose the best of the bunch- just look at Peacocks and Peahens for the classic example!).

Don’t get me wrong I do think kids being properly made up to look like adults is wrong (Toddler beauty queens make me shudder), and I dislike the notion of “toy makeup” so personally I wouldn’t ever buy it for the girls, but might buy them proper makeup for secondary school. I think that is the responsibility of the parents bringing up the children to be aware of some of the issues about allowing or even forcing a kid to grow up too soon, and discussing with the children what some of these issues are, and to try to bring their children up as best they can in this very strange world we now live in. I don’t think banning make up kit sales in under 8’s is really going to make much difference in the grand scheme of things, but supporting parents to develop resilience and good self esteem in their children especially the girls might?

I expect (and hope) Oddler and Omble will ultimately end up rather like me. Go a bit mad with experimenting with you as a teen and then ultimately not be that faffed because they realise you are mostly unnecessary but can be nice for the odd special occasion. If they do, I reckon I’ve done my job as a mother ok.

Lots of madeup love

Lady I Do Own Touche Éclat But I Got It In Duty Free For My Wedding Day And It’s Gone Off And Stinks Curd

P.S In case you were wondering, yes I am a total minger without makeup, but I can live with that. 😉

*by millions I probably mean my mum. Hi mum!


23 responses to “Dear Makeup

  1. Totally agree with your comments although I am the polar extreme to you. I have not left the house without makeup since 1983 (aged 14) and have a terrible fear of being seen barefaced. I worry that my kids (3 daughters) will inherit my insecurity so make sure I tell them that women don’t need makeup it’s that mummy is a right minger without it. Actually I don’t say that I say something sickly and pc. Funnily enough my girls are fairly indifferent to the makeup as they see the huge vat I keep mine in daily. I like to think that as they become teenagers I will at least be able to help them learn to apply it properly so that they don’t look like TOWIE rejects.
    By the way I really envy you being able to go barefaced: I spend approx 25 mins every day doing mine I have just worked out I have spent over 4000 hours of my life putting on makeup. ( that could be dodgy maths) I probably could have done something amazing I’d I hasn’t become a make up junkie. Or I could have had longer in bed anyway.

    • 25mins! I don’t spend 25mins a day on anything. I spend 25hours a day on twitter though- I could probably have written 4 books by now. 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

  2. OMG I have OPINIONS on this. Sorry, this is probably longer than your letter.
    I think it’s ok for kids to play with cast-off makeup and also for them to put colours on their faces.

    What is worrying is the way the toy industry is shaping up. They are colour coding everything and making the label “girl” very restrictive.

    My bestie has a little girl. Now, my bestie is a model and so wears makeup every day. So, the little girl is totally into it. Everyone praises her for being beautiful. Now, I’m not saying everyone should call her ugly to toughen her up but she’s not getting any other praise “that was kind, that was brave, that was clever, that was hard work, that was funny, that was friendly, that was good sharing” it’s all “pretty/beautiful”. So, her only feedback is “good work for putting on a dress today” I constantly tell her she’s “strong” and so she thinks that is a feminine and admirable quality. FUCK YEAH.
    Her Dad (who I hate), also grabs her tummy and says “fat tummy!” and freaks out if she eats chocolate because “that will make her fat” (he blithely feeds her sugar, because that just makes her “hyper”, did I mention he’s an idiot?) The fat tummy was her brown fat when she was three, by the way. She doesn’t get it’s an insult so she’ll point to the fat tummies of adults and when they react with *sadface*, she’s building up a picture. Lucky for her, her feminist aunt grabs her massively distended belly and swings it about for her amusement.

    It makes me mad this is in the toy shop because every day it is on sale, is a day she can walk past it and want it. She’ll pass all the musical instruments and colouring equipment and sports stuff because they’re not pink and she’ll go to the bit for girls and the majority of it is reinforcing that “you’re beautiful” message (oh and “you’re a good carer” but there we are, that’s a different story). She’s playing out what she thinks it is to be an adult and it’s a messed up message. You’re only good to us when your face has been highlighted to please the male gaze. Oh lordy.

    For what happens the first day at school when someone calls her ugly, or fat, or spotty, or gangly, or something. Her entire self esteem is based on needing her appearance praised. It’s going to be extra horrible. More horrible than for a, say, a boy who’s only ever been praised for being good at active things. (with the occasional “handsome!” thrown in)

    So. My opinion is: this playset is probably ok for tweenies and it might be ok for toddlers and up as part of a balanced toy diet. But that’s not what they’re getting. It’s a bit of a situation out there.

    • Thankyou- I totally agree and did you see this from the Alpha Parent? Grrr! @

    • My (lovely and rather glam) MIL and SIL are prime culprits for the “you’re gorgeous” or “you’re so pretty” comments to my daughter. I almost never hear a comment about her being clever, brave, funny, strong…so I (who wears make up on very special occasions and thinks clean jeans are ‘best clothes’) make sure I constantly tell my daughter she is these things but then she never heard me tell her that she’s beautiful – and she genuinely is – as I’m so busy trying to balance things out so she doesn’t place all her value on how she looks.

      Interestingly, my niece who is younger than my daughter is happy to have clips in her hair, clip clops about in SILs shoes and requests little bits of make up be put on whereas my daughter fights if you approach with a hairbrush or a bobble and is fascinated by soap and antibacterial gel but wouldn’t know what to do with the contents of my make up bag!

  3. I wear eyeliner everyday. That is all tho. Leftover from my goth years. I do wear more if I go for a night out. Which since new baby is rare. Kids like playing with make-up. Call it face paint if it makes people feel better. I loved my girls world. I gave her war paint and a Viking helmet.

    • I’m jealous. I never had a girls world, I chopped all the hair off my barbie that also had it’s feet chewed off. My parents wouldn’t let me have one- but a friend took pity on me and gave me that one plus a my little pony with no tail!

  4. I’ve changed my mind about this over the years (my kids are 21 and 18 now). I’m not a makeup wearer and never encouraged them with grooming although I never turned down my eldest when she wanted some in her early teens. Now they’re older and don’t use makeup I kind of feel they miss out on the bonding that happens when friends do grooming, I also worry about the impression they give work-wise because in women of their age the no makeup look is unusual. It’s almost as though I’ve failed to teach them a lifeskill. If I did it all again I might do a bit differently. I should add though that they are happy, successful and well balanced so clearly, my worries are my own.

  5. I agree that it is the adults who make it ‘wrong’. If we just took it for what it was – kids playing with colour/textures but just on their face – then there is no harm. My son sees me put on make-up (some days I ‘go vintage’ andd some days I wear no make-up) and he always wants to put some on. And he is fascinated by my ‘red mouth’ when I wear my lipstick. If I was to toally over analyse this what conclusion would I come to? One restricted by my screwed up adult world view no doubt. What will be will be. In the meantime, let kids be kids and play without our labels sullying everything they do or play with (I have pretty much the same opinion over the pink/blue thing).

  6. “it’s a bit fucked up to freak out so much about kids playing with makeup, when actually what we should maybe be freaking out about is why so many adult women are so not comfortable in their own skins that they have to cover themselves in these make up masks in order to be perceived as beautiful”
    I totally agree with that! I was planning to write a post along the same lines but might as well not bother (only mine would be from the perspective of someone who owns and wears LOADS of makeup. Not that anyone notices. My partner, yesterday: “Why are you putting that stuff on your nose to make it more pink?” Me: “It’s to make it less pink. It was pinker before I started” ).
    I’m concerned that a focus on the “sexualisation of young girls” drifts towards a particularly nasty kind of victim-blaming. It’s as though how we view and treat women as sexual objects is fine; we just don’t want it for our kids, and if said kids are then abused, it’s not really the abuser’s fault – it’s this abstract “sexualisation”. I’d love to see the right-wingers who get so het up about padded bras for kids getting equally het up about Page 3 but it won’t happen (at least, not unless we take the focus off children and onto the environment as a whole).
    Right, off to re-apply my Korres Pomegranite lip balm (btw, used to use Touche éclat but I need something way more industrial-strength these days – maybe I’ll try Dulux emulsion next, esp. after pink nose comment).

  7. my latest gripe, which i’ve been stewing over for a few weeks….it begins SO SOON. Dougal’s cousin just had a baby girl. My cousin, two weeks later, had a baby boy. First children for both so I fancied sending cards. Can you get non-gendered cards??? I mean I’m happy for a card to say ‘New Baby Boy!’ because the adorable Lenny is! And I don’t intend to deny that April is a little girl. But why a pink card? I’m a girl and my favourite colour is red. are there ANY red cards? For either boys or girls? Eh, no.

    Eventually, found in one card shop in Edinburgh a card that was not so genderish. And I did find a boy card with flowers on. Some cards have two or three cream cards that say ‘new baby’ that are clearly intended for people who don’t know the gender of the ‘recipient’. they are dowdy and dull and usually grubby and missing their envelope because obviously they’re not for *real* friends, real friends would know the gender of the baby. not be averse to starting Blue for Boys at day one.

    in the end I *did* by a blue card for my cousin’s boy, but it has a hare on it (bunny) and that’s her surname. she’s marrying her partner next year so I suspect baby will not turn out to be a hare. but it’s a wee reminder for now :o) and i’m going to knit him a not- blue hat. they’re both getting hats…I might knit them both purple ones or something.

    • Purple is often seen as being for girls nowadays. 😦 so I say do it! I have huge amounts of make up but rarely wear it now. Even in the height of my goth days makeup was for going out and the rare day I could be bothered. I don’t think my two have ever seen me put on make up, when they do and are old enough to care about I shall let them play with the war paint but I won’t be encouraging them.

  8. incidentally i’ve been thinking for a while i might go back to wearing makeup (haven’t done since teens) because since going to medical school I look so *knackered* all the time. but I think that it more to do with my being uncomfortable with my changing face than anything. I have at least resisted dying my hair. the grey is there to stay- unless i go blonde for a bit again!

    i’ve heard of studies that indicate women wearing makeup are perceived as more successful/competent and that this is put down to the having time to do makeup- if a woman can make time for make up she can make time for other needs too. she can’t possibly have rushed out of the house in a blind panic having thrust the baby into the hands of the child minder and with her skirt tucked into her knickers, she must be under control. and my mum said she started wearing makeup a bit when she was part time when I was wee, because she saw it as part of her dressing for her work role- put smart skirt on, bit of lip stick, at opposed to dressing for her mummy role. All interesting angles.

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  10. All this stuff about makeup being a professional requirement is weird to hear. I never used to wear it to work (even though most women around me were wearing it). Now, I’m in Denmark, I still don’t wear it but no one else does either. Makeup is for going out. Weird, huh?
    I even went to a job interview without makeup (I might have had mascara but I ran out of foundation ages ago)

    Rule of thumb: If it would look RIDICULOUS on Obama, it’s unacceptable for women to be required to wear it. We are NOT the sex class, it’s not right that our professional competence is judged on how fuckable we are.

  11. I am one of 4 girls so there was a lot of makeup in our house! My mum always wears make up out of the house. So do my sisters. I never wear it apart from on a special occasion. Even as a teenager I couldn’t be faffed with it! We were all brought up the same so we should all feel the same about make up but we don’t. I own some make up and my son (3y) will ask to wear it too if he sees me applying it and I oblige him. I don’t have any female children but I’m sure I would treat them the same.
    I did a sociology Degree at university. My dissertation was about the function of gender socialisation in a post Feminist society. Why do we still need to socialise our children based solely on their gender if the sexes are considered equal? I did a long observation of adult/child interactions in a toy shop as well as studying the toys available to children (the ways they are packaged, pictures used, displayed, colour used)
    My main conclusions were that it serves a function to society in some way. While there are differences between the sexes there will be gender socialisation. Women are still not paid as much as men are for equal work. Women still do the majority of the ‘unpaid’ housework and emotional work. There are many other example of this. I believe this is why there has not been a shift in socialisation (yet!). In my opinion I believe there will be a shift eventually through necessity. In our household my husband cooks and cleans as much as I do otherwise we would not eat on time some nights and there would be piles of washing and washing up if he left it for me to do on my days off. We and many other households cannot survive on one wage so I go to work as well. Hopefuly My children will learn that everyone has a role to play in the household as well as in the workplace.
    This is a subject I have thought about a lot and continue to think about especially now I am a mother. If I do get a female child I will be interested to see if I do raise her differently to my son. Perhaps my little pony and Barbie will be a welcome change to dinosaurs and cars!!

  12. There are advantages to not having them rummage in your make up bag every morning. First of all it lasts much longer. Secondly you don’t don’t get slobber in your blusher. Thirdly (that doesn’t look right, is it even a word?) you don’t inadvertently take Lil Man to playgroup wearing blusher. Never did that. Ever. Scouts honour, or something like that!

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