I am aware, as I apply a minimum of a half-dozen products, that I am shaping her thoughts about feminine beauty and acceptance. Thus, I try to screen my answers – making them less about beauty and vanity and more about feeling good in general. As I dab the thick wrinkle cream around my eyes, I say casually, “Oh, it just helps my skin feel better.” I know it’s a lie and I hate lying.
I secretly hope that she isn’t actually paying as much attention as she appears to be. I hope that she isn’t filing it away and possibly drawing upon it down the road as she stands in a drugstore wondering what lotions and potions she “needs” to feel pretty or accepted or youthful.
It is the same with exercise.
”Why do you exercise so much, Mommy?” asked Peanut a few months back.
I told her a partial truth: that I want to be healthy and strong, but I skipped right over my motivation to keep my weight down. Soon enough, she will hear about the “importance” of being skinny from her peers or the press; she does not need me to plant the seed.
I catch myself far too often telling them how pretty they are, how nice their hair or eyes are. How cute they look in their clothes. Even though I know confidence is built on many levels, I inwardly cringe a little and try to balance these comments by telling them (when warranted) that they are hard working, caring, strong, fast and smart. I don't think it's a bad thing to compliment your daughter on her looks, but I think you have to be careful not to make it *just* about appearance.
This is especially tricky with girls. You don't need me to spout about the pressure they're under to be thin. To be beautiful. To attract a partner. To have dewey skin and voluminous, shiny hair and plump lips and big breasts. I worry about it to the point where I don't keep Glamour or Cosmo or celebrity magazines like Us in the house. I don't want them to think those pictures are what women are supposed to look like.
I wish I were one of those women who can walk around confidently with no makeup and hair in a simple ponytail, but it’s not me; it never has been. I don’t know where I got it from, because my mom is a makeup minimalist. She is blessed with good genes and good sense, things I hope are passed to my girls.
Either way, I hope they know they are worthy of being loved and accepted for ALL their amazing characteristics. And I hope they'll find comfort in their own skin - with or without a little makeup.