By Ritika Jain
It’s alright to dress up your little princess for her birthday party at five years of age, it’s fun to let her apply nail colour at six just because it’s mother-daughter time, it’s amusing to have her friends over and use pretend makeup at seven, it’s also cool to let her dress up for comic con at eight years. But to let a girl of nine or 10 use makeup for real is taking it a bit far, I think. Some nonchalant parents might disagree and view it as a personal expression, but hear me out. There’s a lot of growing up to do in later years, so why rush it?
Don’t conform to sexist standards of beauty
The cosmetic industry has got everyone obsessed with youthful looks and physical attraction. Ironically, K-beauty products have been seen to promote ‘no makeup’ looks. But the truth is, no matter how cherubic, makeup only manages to make a kid look older and it may draw unwanted attention instead of plain attention that is being sought. Sometimes I see parents submitting portfolios of their kids’ photographs to modelling agencies with garish makeup on. Let me tell you that a charming smile is all a kid needs to be featured anywhere. Good manners help too!
Boost self-esteem over self-image
What’s more appealing, confidence or appearance? Jaya C Mehta, a professional dancer who teaches Odissi to adults as well as kids, lays emphasis on a good diet and skincare routine instead of loading up on makeup. She says she’d rather encourage talent and the creativity of a child’s inner self than let them create a self image through applying makeup. Strong role models like her make children see femininity in a different light than what’s portrayed on TV. Ishita Banerjee, an English teacher and mom to an eight-year-old, couldn’t agree more. “Children have pristine looks. Makeup takes away that simplicity and adds artificiality. Parents should divert the child’s attention from looking good to feeling good.”
Yes, it is important to communicate that inner beauty, virtues like empathy and compassion, are more important than good looks. Dr Shilpa Gupta, parenting and emotional well-being coach at CCAW, New Delhi, adds “Facebook and filters in phone are also causing problems like self-image. When kids have parental approval to use something, that’s how their brain processes it. If parents say it’s safe, they’ll use makeup. It’s one thing to put up nice pictures, but it becomes a problem when a kid can’t face the real world and needs to put on a face (hide pimples, etc) to meet her friends. So, parents also have to consider their inputs.”
Use your time for better pursuits
Children are impressionable. If it’s peer pressure that is making your tween turn towards makeup, maybe you should encourage her to make another set of friends who are focussed more on playing and learning than spending hours on discussing looks. Have your daughter do something that truly interests her rather than doing what’s considered “cool”. Deeksha Verma, scriptwriter, says “I made an exception with my daughter because she uses makeup as an art form. She was in class 5 when she was making realistic scars on her hands to fool her friends. She’s in class 11 now and only uses kohl or lip gloss, that too for a party, not in school. She is someone her peers look up to because of her talent.”
Don’t expose delicate skin to harsh chemicals
The words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are thrown around without any substantial checks or standardisation. Plus everything contains preservatives for a reason. It is imperative to throw away expired makeup. Dr Tanvi Pal, practicing paediatric dermatologist at BLK Hospital, says “Tweens often get acne, dermatitis or some allergic reaction due to heavy makeup. It’s best to wait till you’re 16 or even 18 years. If you absolutely must use it for a stage performance or something, cleanse immediately afterwards and don’t forget to use moisturiser.”