In a Daily Mail point-counterpoint, a couple argues whether their three-year-old should be allowed to wear makeup.
Okay, that's a slight oversimplification... I think. The bone of contention is a tub of lipgloss that's arrived with the little girl's children's magazine. When she appears at the breakfast table with her mouth smeared red, her dad panics at the thought that his baby is growing up and being seduced by the big, bad sexualized world. Quoth he,
I will concede that, knowing Bridie would be our last child, I have clung to her babyhood rather more tightly than I did with our older girls. Yet I wouldn't attempt to hold back her natural development. But at the same time she has been born into a world permeated with a creepy and sinister sexualisation of children. She is being brought up in a society where shops sell padded bras to girls who have yet to grow a bust. And one that sees supermarkets forced to withdraw mini pole-dancing kits from their toy sections.
Mom Rachel rebuts,
And while I do, of course, abhor the modern marketing trends that inarguably sexualise our children, I don't believe that having a predilection for pink lippy will see our toddler pestering me for a pushup bra any time soon. Which is why I couldn't share Carl's dismay the other morning when Bridie covered her face in lip gloss in between mouthfuls of Rice Krispies... Of course, I'm appalled when I see a seven-year-old carrying a Playboy pencil case into school, and dismayed by the little girls, no older than five, who play in our park in sequin crop tops and horribly short skirts.But I don't believe there's any harm in little girls liking makeup. That is something that will only change when we big girls go off the stuff, too
To an outsider, the situation seems perfectly clear: yes, kids are too sexualized nowadays and no, there's nothing particularly sinister about a little girl smearing lip gloss on her face - especially after we're inured to the baby pageant circuit's penchant for forced fake-bakes and hairpieces. But what is a little weird in this debate is not the little girl's behavior, which seems age-appropriate enough, as the parents' expectations for her inevitable maturity. Here's what the dad, Carl, says about his two older girls, 13 and 10: "Bronte and Merrily are obsessed with mobile phones, make-up, shopping and boys. I find myself mourning the days when they believed in Santa and the tooth fairy." Their mom concurs: "Yes, the older girls might be mad about shopping and boys, but they also work hard at school, do their chores and are nice to have around, which seems a good balance to me." Shopping and boys, at ten, does seem precocious, and, by the way, kind of within the parents' purview. They're still fighting the battle with the youngest daughter, but at ten the childhood fight is lost? They treat this as a universality, but ironically, maybe the fact that they take it for granted is what's problematic. If this is what the three-year-old will be into in just a few short years, I kinda see why the dad is sad about it; and why the mom thinks it's no big deal. Tragic? Not at all. But their idea of "girlhood" is different from mine.
Should We Let Our Three-Year-Old Girl Wear Make-Up? [Daily Mail]