Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lipstick and the slippery slope to victimhood

This morning my daughter and I were painting our toenails. It was all good fun. Then I gave her a spare eyebrow brush to use to "paint" her doll's toenails. She was occupied, and I left the room for a few moments. When I came back, she was applying my lipstick. Now, my lipstick is one of those lip stains which will outlast anything. I rushed to wipe it off her lips before it set, and then she asked me the fateful question. "Can I have lipstick?"
My mind went into high gear. She's not even three years old yet. Lipstick is something older women use to look attractive. If I give her lipstick, she'll learn that her worth comes from her appearance. Then she'll be anorexic and vulnerable to any sweet talking teenage boy who wants to take advantage. She'll be broken and destroyed. All of this, in less than a minute after my little girl asked for lipstick.
"Sure," I said. Chapstick is the answer. I knew I could buy her some chap stick, which would fulfill her request without her looking like a 3 year old pageant competitor. We went to Target, all while my mind worried.
You're teaching her that her appearance is all that matters. She's going to get addicted to chap stick. She'll lick it off and reapply it the way you did and then get severely chapped lips. 
And then, a moment of clarity. She only wants lipstick because Mommy wears it.
I relaxed. She wants to put lipstick on her mouth because I do, not because she wants to look or feel pretty. I remembered when one of my nephews wanted to paint his toenails: because he had see his Grandmother do it. I remembered a friend whose son had asked for makeup, just because he saw his mommy putting it on.
I'm still not 100% comfortable with my decision. I bought her Burt's Bees chap stick, Pink Grapefruit flavor just because the lid is pink. She was delighted, opened it, and proceeded to smear it on her lip and then lick it. She's not obsessed with her appearance. She's just a normal kid, experimenting with her world. And my anxiety? Just the normal anxiety of a mom. One thing I've learned in the last 3 years is that sometimes you just have to make a decision and hope that it's the right one. I can't be perfect. I can only love her.

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