Mama, Why Do You Wear Makeup?
By Denise Vasi
It’s no secret that I love makeup and in all honestly, I personally feel more put together when I have some on. It doesn’t need to be a full face, although I feel there is a time and a place for that kind of fun too. For me, a little red lipstick does the trick most days.
Does that mean I’m not as confident when I’m sans makeup? Not at all! Confidence comes from within and even the best face beat can’t make up for something you’re lacking inside.
Does that mean I feel ugly when I don’t have makeup on? Nope! I know the purpose of makeup is only to enhance what I’ve already got going on.
But what about my three-year-old daughter?
Recently she asked me a question I didn’t anticipate from her, especially not at three years old.
“Mama, why do you wear makeup?”
Before I could pick my jaw up off the floor, she then hit me with this follow-up question, “Can I wear some makeup too?”
It makes sense for our little girls to be so intrigued. We pull out these bags full of colorful objects that resemble crayons and paint; we stand in front of the mirror examining ourselves; we apply, cover, powder and then smile to ourselves with what could look to them like acceptance.
I found myself hesitant to answer the question because I didn’t want to lie to her. I wanted to be honest, but without perpetuating the perception that females who wear makeup are more beautiful, likable or valued.
At the end of the day, she’s only three and I didn’t feel it was necessary to get too deep and, well, I’ll keep it 100. Her question actually sparked 25 other questions in my mind to which I realized I had no answers.
For example, why did I cover up my pimple? In that moment it dawned on me that covering something up is a sign of shame. Camouflaging a pimple is actually the last thing you should do, you’re just keeping the clogged skin from breathing. Clearly, at some point in my life (I would guess when I started modeling), I was made to believe people wouldn’t care to see a pimple on my face or I was made to feel insecure because of a pimple.
I definitely didn’t want to consciously pass any insecurities off to my daughter. I didn’t want her looking at makeup as a tool to conceal who she is and I didn’t want her to grow up thinking the value of a woman is based on her appearance.
As mothers of daughters, we have a huge responsibility of owning who we are just as we are, because we set the precedent of beauty ideals for our little girls from the start. I knew that in this very moment, I was shaping her first idea of what beauty means. I knew that the short dialogue we were about to engage in was just the beginning of many, much more difficult conversations regarding physical appearance and societal expectations.
Our little girls are listening and watching everything we do and those small — what could be considered insignificant — moments are really great opportunities to lay the foundation for positive body image, self-love and self-acceptance. Those moments are chances to break the stereotypical idea that females are expected to look a certain way or that physical appearance equals worth. I want my daughter to know that makeup is a choice. That it can be a way to highlight her favorite features or a fun outlet for expressing herself without masking who she is.
So what did I say to my three-year-old?
I turned to her and said, “Mama has a few favorite things about my face — like my lips, and I love the color red” and then I asked her what her favorite part of her body was, what her favorite color was and then I kept it moving.
We didn’t go into an hour-long discussion about the nuances of makeup, perfection, and flaws. That’s a conversation I don’t hope to get into for another few years. This was just beginning and I simply want her to know I love my own features, she should too and that is the definition of beauty.