I Let My 10-Year-Old Wear Makeup

makeupYes. That's right. I let my 10-year-old daughter wear makeup. Not only do I let her wear makeup, I answer her questions about which brand of mascara is better and which shade of lip gloss looks best with her skin tone and how does anybody ever put liquid eyeliner on without looking like a total mess???

Why, you ask, do I allow such a thing? Am I prepping my daughter for the latest reality show, Tweens and Tiaras? (There is not actually a show with this name, to the best of my knowledge.) Do I want her to grow up obsessed with her appearance and valuing her outside more than her inside and blah, blah, blah?


The answer to all of the above questions is no, of course. I'm indulging my daughter's current makeup obsession because I'm following one of my (very few) hard and fast Parenting Rules: Make nothing taboo. Unless, that is, you want your kid to get even more obsessed with whatever it is you're going to forbid.

It almost never fails: Whenever a parent declares something strictly off-limits, that thing instantly becomes thousands more times desirable than it was before. It's human nature; even adults have the tendency to want what we can't have. As grown-ups, though, we generally understand the reason why we can't have whatever it is we're dying to get, usually because the reason we can't have it is concrete, one that can't be argued with: I want those shoes but I don't have enough money in my bank account to buy them. Fairly cut and dry. Oh well, whaddya gonna do?

But when it's our kid who wants something, intangible reasons for refusal like "you're not old enough" do nothing to convince her that the real explanation isn't simply "Mom is a killjoy." Which, first of all, does nothing for my credibility as a parent ("Mom doesn't even know what she's talking about") and, worse, sends my kid the message that the next time she wants to share one of her new interests or hobbies or opinions with me, she should probably stop herself ("Mom will just say no anyway").

It's not about the makeup, really. Funny, I find that she's more interested in collecting it than wearing it -- perhaps if I had cracked down hard on her little habit and deemed makeup before the age of 16 strictly verboten, she would have catapulted herself into instant drag queen mode after her first trip to Sephora.

Do you think making things like makeup off-limits for tweens just makes them more obsessed?


Image via dreamglowpumpkincat210/Flickr

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