Thursday, July 09, 2009

12 Going on 30: Young Girls Wearing Too Much Make-Up

NOTE FROM SUSAN: I don’t have daughters, but my mom and sister and I were always into make-up. I remember having a few battles with my mother about when it was appropriate to wear make-up and get my ears pierced. And I’m still one of those women who won’t leave the house without a little bit of make-up on, at least some mascara. If your daughter is at an age when she’s interested in make-up, the following article by Mary Jo Rapini, author of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You & Your Mom, will help you know how to handle this issue with her.

12 GOING ON 30: Young Girls Wearing Too Much Make-Up
by Mary Jo Rapini

It is amazing how fast little girls are growing up; at times it’s even frightening. What’s a mom to do when her 12-year-old daughter wants to wear make-up?

Telling her she can’t wear make-up until she is older is probably only going to make her want to rebel. She may even develop feelings of shame associated with it. Soon your 12-year-old may be putting her make-up on when she gets to school or the mall or a friend’s house to “hide” her activity from you. This will only build a wall in your interaction and communication with her.

A better approach is to have a heart-to-heart talk. To put both of you at ease, go for a walk or sit in an ice cream shop or wherever the two of you can go to talk without interruptions. Ask her WHY she wants to wear make-up. Does it make her feel prettier? More confident about her looks? Or is she just trying to “fit in”? Your daughter may be concerned about her skin and feels make-up covers unsightly acne scars or other flaws. This is a difficult time of changes, both physically and emotionally. Physically, as the face grows, it isn’t uncommon for different parts of the face to look exaggerated as compared to other parts. And emotionally, she is starting to try and figure out who she is and how she can be like all her peers.

It is important that your daughter feel like she can talk to you honestly about her concerns and that you won’t dismiss them as being foolish and not important. If she is concerned about her skin texture or acne, it would be wise to see a dermatologist with her.

If you are okay with occasional use of make-up, Rapini encourages moms to plan a “girl’s weekend” and take a make-up class together. Many times the reasons young girls overdo make-up is because they were not taught the “correct way” to apply it. They are heavy-handed with eye-liner and mascara because they copy their peers (who are not taught the correct way) instead of understanding how make-up is meant to enhance their skin and features.

When you talk with your daughter prior to disciplining her or discouraging her from wearing make-up, you should make it clear that you care about how she feels in regards to her looks. She needs to feel supported by you instead of shamed. She will feel better about herself because she knows you understand how she feels.

This is also a good time to identify how you felt during that time of your life. You can tell her how “too much make-up” makes her look and how it may make others react. Too much make-up is not necessarily going to make her look like she is more grown up. The way to achieve looking more grown up is to be confident in your own skin.

By listening to your daughter, not judging her, and offering her your support, you will be in a much better position to help her build that confidence.

Mary Jo Rapini is a psychotherapist and co-author of the book Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You & Your Mom. This easy-to read, lively, down-to-earth book is definitely teen-friendly and is ideal to help both mothers and daughters have engaging conversations about tough topics (

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  1. Not old enough to have a teenager myself, but I can remember when I was this age. I was allowed to wear makeup at age 12, as were most of my friends,, but the makeup I got and the way I put it on had to be approved by my mom. The friends I had who didn't wear makeup until age 14 often ended up grew up into women who didn't take care to use make up, clothes & hairstyles to their advantage, always looking very homely instead of being as beautiful as they could be. Interesting, huh?

  2. GReat post. My girls are still too young for this, but I will take these suggestions to heart. I like the tip of talking in a neutral spot. Thanks.


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