Allowing Makeup on the Elementary School Set

Catherine Crawford

Although my 6-year-old daughter has (mercifully) emerged from her girly-girl phase and seems to be on track for a stint as a serious tomboy, she surprised me recently by asking -- begging really -- for a makeup set.

I guess it makes a little sense as both my daughters love to hang out on my bed and watch me work the cosmetics. They are fascinated by the contents of my makeup bag, but I always thought it was because they were forbidden to go anywhere near it. 

When my girl requested her own kit, I was weirdly pleased and immediately promised that I’d get her one. It almost seems as though she doesn’t equate the makeup with beauty, but rather with art and expression (akin to the outfits she chooses, many of which cause me excruciating discomfort whilst holding my tongue).

I'm sure the knee-jerk reaction had a lot to do with the fact that I was NEVER allowed to wear makeup when I was growing up. Even when I was in high school, my father disproved of any facial enhancements. For this reason, my sister and I were woefully incompetent and uncomfortable applying even a simple lipstick. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s and I received some real hands-on instruction that I started to enjoy makeup to assert personal style (my love of black eyeliner and red lipstick has stuck with me ever since). I want my girls to find the same amusement, and not feel embarrassed of their abilities.

I popped online to order her the goods, but all of the kids' makeup sets were either covered in princesses (which my daughter loathes), or they seemed lame and too expensive for what they contained. Instead, I purchased a cheapish “deluxe” adult set. After I sealed the deal, I went to ye olde google to see what other parents were doing. Ha! By the looks of things, my girl might be one of the only 6-year-olds on the block (in the borough, almost) who is allowed to dip into the rouge. The apparent consensus out there in cyberland is that little girls should be at least 11 before they get acquainted with Maybelline. Hmm…

I can understand the reasoning, as visions of JonBenet Ramsey still creep me out, but I also don’t want to turn makeup into some forbidden fruit that becomes all the more important and appealing because of its taboo status. It’s fun!

Nevertheless, the puritans out there did get to me, and I’ve made a list of rules that will accompany my little girl’s first foray into the wonderful world of makeup: 

  • Under no circumstances (except Halloween) is makeup allowed at school
  • No wearing makeup when we go out of the house
  • Makeup must be washed off thoroughly at bedtime
  • No putting makeup on little sister without a grown-up present
  • Friends must ask their parents before using makeup kit
  • Makeup must always be put away properly
  • No wearing makeup when grandma and grandpa are over (they just wouldn’t understand)

I'm kind of excited to see what she'll do!

What age do you think makeup is okay?


Image via Wrote/Flickr

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