Skin Deep: Moms, Makeup, and the Business of Raising a Woman

Why I let my daughter play with makeupWhy I let my daughter play with makeupBecause of society's unfortunate tendency to confuse femininity and beauty and celebrate both of them as the ideal, my 4-year stint as Violet's mother has involved a fair amount of avoiding girly-girl toys and activities in a misguided attempt at preparing her to be a strong woman.

Dolls? Eh.

Do you really want pink? What about red?

Related: 7 ways mothers can empower their daughters

And I used to think any kind of relationship with make-up would ruin my daughter. To the point that I didn't really put on any make-up while she was around. No make-up! Women don't need make-up!

I must constantly remind myself there is nothing wrong with girly-girl things. Many women, including myself, find great enjoyment in clothes, make-up and just the right pair of shoes. There's nothing wrong with that so long as I can also impart to my daughter that her worth comes not from a new pair of shoes or the right shade of lipstick, but from what's inside.

So I find I'm loosening up about the whole thing. I'm not registering her for a beauty pageant any time soon or anything, but at 4-years-old, she's showing a very normal interest in my make-up routine each morning. And instead of avoiding her questions and down-playing make-up, I'm actually enjoying the girly bonding.

What's that?

Lip gloss. It makes your lips shiny.

What's that?

Blush. It's for your cheeks.

What's that?

An eyelash curler.

Can I try?

You don't need it. In fact, I don't need it either. It's just for fun.

That's the approach I'm taking with the whole make-up thing. "It's just for fun." I say as I allow her to dot some clear lip gloss on to her bubble gum-colored lips. "We're beautiful just how we are, but sometimes it can be fun to put on make-up, just like using crayons to make pictures colorful."

The problem you run into with that tactic is that if it's just for fun, then she wants to know why can't she wear make-up. I ain't raisin' no fool over here. I'm still working out my theory here-I didn't say I had it totally dialed in. I have a long road ahead of me, I know.

But for now, I let her dab on a little lip gloss, sweep the blush brush across chubby cheeks and, most recently, attempt to figure out the Rubik's cube that is the eyelash curler. Mostly it's been a delight witnessing her discover herself in the mirror. Pursed lips, turning to this side and that, placing fingers in dimples, baring teeth then sticking out a tongue and laughing.

Yes, baby! That's you! Perfectly beautiful exactly as you are. Here are 5 quotes to remind my daughter how beautiful she is:

All in good funAll in good fun1. All In Good Fun
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. -- Leo Tolstoy

Know that you don't need makeupKnow that you don't need makeup2. But Please Know You Don't Need Make-Up
Beauty is in the heart of the beholder. --H.G. Wells

In fact, no one needs makeupIn fact, no one needs makeup3. In Fact, No One Needs Make-Up
Beauty is only temporary, but your mind lasts you a lifetime. --Alicia Machado

It's what's on the inside that makes you beautifulIt's what's on the inside that makes you beautiful4. It's What's On The Inside That Makes You Beautiful
Let us live for the beauty of our own reality. --Charles Lamb

And you, my child, are stunningAnd you, my child, are stunning5. And You, My Child, Are Stunning
Beauty is truth's smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror. --Rabindranath Tagore

- By Monica Bielanko
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