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It is common for preschool girls to engage in imaginary play by playing dress up. Preschool girls dress up in their mother’s clothes, wear their heels and apply their mother’s makeup. During the late elementary school years when girls are about 10 or 11 years old they begin to show a distinct interest in makeup. This interest in makeup signifies the development of self-awareness , self-consciousness, body image and peer pressure. A young girls push for wearing makeup represents her perception of body image. If this area is not handled well, it could turn into a power struggle between mother and daughter. Having an open dialogue can help resolve this milestone in your daughter’s life in a healthy way.
This is an important area to discuss with one’s daughter and becomes a teachable moment. Factors that are helpful in making a decision to allow one’s daughter to wear makeup include: the norm of when young girls are wearing makeup in one’s neighborhood, school, church, when the mother began wearing makeup and the family’s values. I suggest a healthy compromise between one’s daughter’s wishes and the factors mentioned above. Most parents believe that young girls should be allowed to wear makeup in middle school or high school. A common age range when girls begin to wear makeup is 13 or 14 years of age. The following 3 suggestions are useful in addressing this area:
- Teach your daughter about the relationship between make up and body image. To gain a better understanding of your daughter’s interest in wearing makeup; ask her the following questions: Why she wants to wear makeup? What type of look she is going for? This information can be helpful in understanding what transitions your daughter is experiencing: body image concerns, peer pressure, fitting in, etc. Discuss with her how her body will be changing, the fear of the unknown, the importance of accepting and loving herself. Talk to her about the importance of having self-confidence, self-worth and a positive body image and how to cultivate that in a healthy fashion. Reinforce the importance of what is on the inside above all else: her character and values.
- Create limitations: What types of makeup she can wear (lip gloss, etc.), the amount, where, etc. Emphasize the natural look in that less is more. Take a trip to a department store and have a makeup artist teach her how to apply makeup properly. This is an important step as girls this age tend to heavily apply makeup. Along with applying makeup, she will be taught how to properly remove it and care for her skin.
- Maintain an open discussion: This moment marks future important decisions where you child will continue to need guidance with puberty, romantic interest, a sense of belonging, sex, etc. Remember that if you are not teaching and guiding your child, someone else will.
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Carmel Valley 92130/Del Mar area 92014.