Teens, Makeup and Self-Esteem

I am not suggesting that a little lip gloss at age 12 is a dreadful thing. I am talking about extremes here.
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Teenage girl applying makeup
Teenage girl applying makeup

Oh no, we are concerned about our teen daughters and body image, our teen daughters and eating disorders, our teen daughters and depression, sexuality and self-esteem. I apologize profusely for adding yet another issue to your list of issues to be concerned about. In my experience with parents, though, I am well-aware that parents do much better when they are given suggestions about how to intervene effectively to save their girls' and teen daughters' souls. So, I will tell you about another issue and then make suggestions.

The results of a recently-released survey http://file:///Users/barbaragreenberg/Documents/R-BarefacedBeautifulRelease-FINAL.htm found that approximately 20% of girls between 8 and 18 who wear makeup describe feeling unappealing, undesirable and simply not confident when they are not wearing makeup. In my experience, girls are wearing makeup earlier as the survey suggests. They are looking at their teen idol role models, their older sisters and even little girls on all of the TV shows involving little girl beauty pageants. (Think: "Toddlers and Tiaras".) How about "Dance Moms?" These little girls are so heavily made up with their mothers' encouragement and maybe even a little coercion.

Look, I am not suggesting that a little lip gloss at age 12 is a dreadful thing. I am talking about extremes here. There is absolutely no reason that young girls and even teens require a full face of makeup on a daily basis. If they are going to prom, then that is a different story. That is a special day when they are almost expected to dress up in a particular way.

I am also not happy with the cosmetics industry for the way they market cosmetics to our young daughters. Walk through any pharmacy, cosmetics store or even toy store and you will see exactly what I mean.

My suggestions to parents of girls are the following:

1. Set an age at which your daughter is allowed to wear makeup and stick to it. You will be teaching your daughters to be comfortable in their own skin, both literally and figuratively.

2. You can break the rule on occasion, but even then, limit it to just a little makeup, which does not make them look sexualized at age 13. Our daughters already look too sexualized. We don't need to compound this problem with cosmetics.

3. If your daughters tell you that all of the other girls are allowed to wear makeup, hold your ground. This is probably not the case and if it is, then so be it. You need to protect your daughter from developing self-esteem contingent upon how she looks with makeup on.

4. Focus on other aspects of how your teen daughters can feel good about themselves like their hobbies, sports, art, etc. Everything is NOT about appearance.


5. Talk to the other mothers about their feelings on this issue. You might just find that you are in good company.

Good luck!