In case you missed it earlier this week, the interwebs were thrown into a tizzy when a mommy blogger wrote about her four year old daughter’s fascination with make-up. As your humble media servant, I have done you a favor and posted the link here so that you can read and watch for yourself something I refer to as “Things-White-people-care-about-that-don’t-make-a-bit-of-difference- in-the-grand-scheme-of-things.”
On my list of things that matter, whether a four year old girl likes to play in make-up rank at about 4…where 4 million is the highest priority. World hunger? That’s right at the top of the list. This? Meh.
Look, the deal is, kids emulate what they see; and as any ardent watcher of Dr. Phil will tell you, the same sex parent is the single most powerful influencer in a young child’s life. If Mommy likes to wear make-up, then little Suzie will most likely want to give face painting a go too.
As usual, physiologists came pouring out of the woodwork like termites after a thunderstorm, prophesying that this mother and all who follow in her wake were setting their female offspring onto a destructive path riddled with low self-esteem and body image dysmorphia. The child will learn that she is only pretty when she puts on make-up, and this is not a healthy image for young girls to have of themselves. Other more radical folk (better known as trolls) said that by letting her four year old play in make-up, she was setting her up to be a slut. You have only to watch the video to see how ridiculous either assertion is.
I think a good question to ask is: when is it too early to start caring about one’s image?
My 5 year old loves to do hair. She is constantly tugging at her twists, trying to fashion them into a side swept pony tail (with a fringe in the front); or an updo (with a fringe in the front); or a demure bun in the back (with a fringe in the front). She likes fringes. Is she obsessed with her hair? By the endless amounts of grease and water she applies to it, I think so…but I think it’s a healthy obsession. I’d much rather her want to leave the house with a sense of style than with a rat’s nest perched atop her dome.
So what is the difference between my little girl and the little girl who is attracted to glittery eye shadow and hot pink lipstick? None at all. My job as a parent is to make sure that before she leaves the house, she is attired and adorned appropriately – and that may mean wiping off a caked on layer of lipstick or putting a braid back in its proper place.
This whole “too young to wear make-up” brouhaha only confirms, once again, that adults are projecting their experiences on children and have sexualized their innocence in their own minds. What’s next? Are we going to demand Fisher-Price stop manufacturing toy houses because it might promote promiscuity in toddlers? I mean, why else would a “single girl” invite a “nice boy” over to her house to “play”?
Let’s all hold hands and get a grip.