“Mommy, why do you wear makeup?”
Well, that’s a tough question to answer. I can’t tell my sweet cherub-faced 5-year-old that the concealer is to cover the dark circles caused by her 3 a.m. wake-ups. Or that the foundation is because I spent too much time in the sun without adequate sunscreen so I need to even out the areas that used to be cute freckles and are now uneven patches of peach and brown. Actually, that lesson will come in handy, but I’ll save it for a few years.
And how do I tell her that mascara and eye shadow just make me feel more sophisticated, and that the blush and highlighter give me a faux radiance that my 36-year-old skin lost a decade ago?
“Well, honey, I wear makeup because I have to look professional for work.”
“How does makeup make you look professional, Mommy?”
Ooooh, do I launch into a soapbox speech on societal standards of beauty or on our Western obsession with youth?
“It just does, baby. Go get your shoes on.”
I’ve been inwardly battling over my beauty routine for a while now. I don’t actually believe that women have to wear makeup to look beautiful. Or that I would suffer professionally if I passed on the blush once in a while. But I just feel better “put together.” That’s exactly it – I feel put together with makeup on. And I’ll admit, it’s fun. I like playing around with bronzer, and swiping on a bright lip hue on a summer day. I like the way my face glows with the perfect primer/foundation combo, and wow, how my eyes just pop when I land on the right eye shadow. It’s just fun.
Confession time: I subscribe to beauty-sample services. Ipsy and Sample Society. They arrive on the 15th of each month, and it’s like a mini-Christmas every time! Ooooh, will I get a new nail polish? What’s this hair cream I’ve never heard of? I can’t wait to try the lipstick (full size!) they included this month. Oooh, a new face wash! Fun! My daughters like these surprises almost as much as I do because they inevitably get to try the new stuff with me, and they usually get the cast-offs I don’t like. They run off with their (my) new treasures, put on their fanciest dress-up dresses and play salon for hours.
Is that a bad thing? Am I setting a bad example for my daughters, who are growing up with even more media scrutiny on beauty than ever before? Will Dove’s “Real Beauty” ads cut through the barrage of tween idols who look like (and act) they’re 25? Will they be high-maintenance? (horror! please, no!)
I like to think that I’m modeling moderation. That the weekend ponytails and face sans makeup shows them that I don’t HAVE to be made up all the time. That I appreciate my natural beauty, and that they should too. That there’s a time and place for high heels, flat-ironed hair, and carefully composed makeup. But is that the message they’re getting? Is “being girlie” such a bad thing? Should I be squashing their seemingly natural interest in beauty or letting it blossom?
I don’t know. I’m asking more questions than I’m answering. Does anyone have the answer? Anyone?
Words to think about: