Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Lipstick Mafia

First off, can I just pat myself on the back super hard for making this graphic ALL BY MYSELF.  I can't say I'm super talented at it, but I gets the job done.

I have a daughter.  She's 10 years old.  She rocks my world, sometimes in a fabulous way and sometimes in a cry myself to sleep at night with a bottle of wine kind of way.  She is in the second half of her fifth grade year and as her mind and body have begun to develop, she has been keen to continue her self expression.

First all, for those of you who have not met my daughter, she is a force unto herself.  She was born into the world with a strong sense of who she was and what she liked and didn't like.  She has been expressing herself loudly and passionately all her 10 years.  

So, she came to me a few weeks ago and said she wanted to wear makeup.  Okay, full disclosure, she has been coming to me for the last YEAR wanting to wear makeup.  Nope, nope, nope.  She's still more baby to me than girl, more starfish hand than elegant fingers.

I don't remember wearing makeup until I was 14, though I will admit that once the gates were opened I attempted full on goth makeup.  No, really.  Black hair, black eyeliner.  I don't have many pictures of that time period, but trying to have a pale white face and be all serious was a real stretch for me with my naturally rosy cheeks and exuberant personality.  Then I tried more of the punk scene, but I just wasn't really angry either.  I was like an alternative cheerleader who liked angry and depressing music.  Anyways.....back to my girl child.


Mom, I want to wear makeup.  Why can't I wear makeup?

Because you're too young.

Why am I too young?

Only grown ups wear makeup.


Because I want you to love your natural self first.  Because you're perfect exactly how you are.  You're flawless!

Moooooom, I do love how I look.  I just want to express myself differently.


But mom, it's just a form of self expression.

You're 10!  What the fuck?  (yes, I do drop F bombs in front of my child.  No, she's not allowed to use them in front of me.)  Self expression?  At 10?  Shouldn't you playing in a puddle or eating rocks or something?

God Mom.  (eye roll, dramatic sigh)  I'm not a baby.  And it's not like I want to wear regular makeup like to get boys or something stupid.  I just want to be able to show the world who I am.

I need to think about this.  Go away and let me think.


So, she goes off and I think about pouring myself a stiff drink.  My mind goes to all the usual places.  She shouldn't wear makeup because I don't want her sexualized at such an early age.  But then I think...wait, who's sexualizing her?  I'm not.  She's not.  Her friends aren't.  Oh, wait, the people that are sexualizing a 10 year old are the pervy people that would sexualize her if they saw her in her swimsuit!  Or her pajamas.  Or any clothes for that matter.  If you're sexualizing a 10 year old, it's NOT THE TEN YEAR OLDS FAULT.

 She shouldn't wear makeup because it's used to attract boys. Ha! Again, is that really true?  I know it's not for me. I wear makeup and it's not to attract men. Sometimes I wear makeup and I don't leave the house. Sometimes I leave the house and I don't wear makeup. 

So why SHOULD she wear makeup? It's fun to play around. It can feel like a small bit of armor , which shouldn't be inappropriately used but can feel comforting sometimes. When you're having a haggard kind of day and you throw on some lipstick and feel fancy, it's a little pick me up. It definitely can be a form of self expression.

So - we compromised.  She gets to rock the glitter lips she wanted to rock, but no other makeup.  She can occasionally use a little glitter on her face, but it can't be excessive (and I get to define excessive).  The gorgeous rainbow lips in the title are hers.  I like to think that she is teaching me her brand of feminism.  If the reason I'm making a decision is because of the patriarchy and the misogyny of men, maybe it's time I rethink my decision.

I encourage you, friends, to look at what part of your life you're making decisions just because. Just because you said so. Just because your mom did it that way.  Just because society thinks it should be that way. If you don't have a 10 year old teacher like I do, ask yourself the question Why. Again and again, until you reach the heart of the issue.  And as Martha Beck says 'you can tell it’s enlightenment because enlightenment always tastes of freedom. Not comfort. Not ease. Freedom.'