I remember when I was a little kid and putting on makeup was just something I played around with. I'd grab the pink bag containing the "dress up" cosmetics from my mom's dresser and enthusiastically do my face over with pink eye shadow and red blush before combing my eyebrows and eyelashes with the designated brushes. Every morning, I'd watch my mom work with her "grown up" makeup as she put on her eyeliner, mascara and foundation, and I'd imagine myself doing the same many years later. Even as I played dress up with my friends, I couldn't picture them using real makeup of their own until they were actually moms themselves. Little did I know how much of a sway the beauty industry and society would have on them and the generations after us.
Before, it was popular for kids to be sporting the latest flavor of Lip Smacker, but today, I'm seeing a trend of girls who prefer to wear what I call "the mask," a layering of makeup (thin or thick) that, if removed, would reveal a different face underneath. Now I'm not saying that I'm against makeup all together; I think there are many girls my age who wear makeup appropriately and look very nice in it. The problem I see lies in the reason some girls, especially tweens, choose to wear makeup.
Whenever a 12-year-old girl walks by wearing mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, foundation and lip gloss, I wonder why someone so young would feel the need to dress up her face on a daily basis. I still recall being confused about the matter when the girls around me progressively put on more makeup throughout the years of middle school, as if their bare faces weren't adequate enough. Whenever I asked my friends about the habit, their response would be, "I just need it." After recently doing some research, I'm now realizing that that's the problem most girls are facing today.
A lot of young females, in my generation, too, equate a part of their self-worth with how they look on the outside and how much makeup is able to improve their appearances. There's this underlying notion from a cornucopia of influences that says if you're able to hide your flaws in any way, do so. As a result, girls are growing up with a psychological idea that their natural looks aren't socially acceptable and that they should strive to enhance themselves. Instead of using makeup as a means to get dressed up or look nicer than usual, putting it on has become a daily habit that many see as a necessity before stepping out their front doors.
From a survey conducted by the Renfrew Center Foundation in 2013, it has been discovered that one in five girls who have worn makeup between the ages of 8 and 18 years old have negative feelings about their looks when they don't wear makeup, such as feeling self-conscious, unattractive or as if something is missing from their faces. Of the girls who wear makeup, 65 percent started wearing it between the ages of 8 and 13 and 27 percent hardly ever leave the house without wearing any. The places most girls feel are okay to be bare-faced are at home, the pool or beach and the gym. The least acceptable places to be bare-faced are friends' houses and school.
After talking with Michaela Angela Davis, Image Activist and the Editorial Manager of BET Networks, she shared her thoughts on the matter from her own experience with her daughter's use of makeup. "It's different putting it on at home versus going out into the world," she said. While Ms. Davis believes it's natural for a young girl to want to use her body for self-expression, her biggest concern was keeping her daughter safe from being pulled into adulthood too fast, saying that, "There should be a line between [the makeup used by] a girl and a woman," such as flavored lip gloss vs. lipstick and fun containers vs. compact ones. Wearing too much makeup too soon can open the doors to street harassment and people thinking young girls are grown women.
Not only did she want makeup to be a rite of passage for her daughter, but she also wishes young girls wouldn't be so quick to cover up their faces: "There's something emotional about seeing your skin as it is and getting to love it," she said. "You can never get young skin back." Her advice to tweens who want to wear makeup as soon as possible is to look closely in the mirror and gaze at all the natural colors in your face; tell yourself daily how beautiful you are and realize how much your face shines by itself. You may be anxious to wear makeup early on, but what you naturally have now is what older generations are trying to get back later in life.