Over the years I’ve acquired 3 permanent scars – the first was from when I was 1 and weirdly obsessed with my image in the mirror, and fell backwards holding a full-sized one. The second was when I was 2 and my house help lost it and almost killed me because I’d sat, with a dirty diaper, in a bucket of water she’d walked 4 streets to fetch. And the third from that one time I tried shaping my eyebrows myself at 7 years old.
Fast forward to a few days ago when I heard my neighbor practically screaming her head off because her 9-year-old daughter had made the same clumsy mistake I’d made so many years ago. She’d somehow gotten a hold of a new razor and was shaping away and cut herself deeply. When asked why she was trying to retouch her eyebrows, she said she liked what “Aunty Bose” did to her brows when getting ready for church. “It was fine and I want my own to be like that“.
I actually understood her plight. She has (well, had) those really beautiful full brows that remind me of Lily Collins or Cara Delevingne that I so crave now; and felt like she was definitely making a huge mistake. But I had to wonder why she was trying to be like Aunty Bose at such a young age. I remember when I was 9 and my Aunt bought me a set of lipsticks – my sisters took everything and left me with the nude coloured one. And even that one I was only allowed to use when I turned 13. I didn’t understand then the makeup injustice I had just been served, I was just upset because they had taken my present that Aunty gave to me. So it baffled me why she was so concerned with her appearance.
At what age should our kids start worrying about beauty or grooming. At the age of 9 if your son comes up to you and says he wants to use spirit to grow side burns or a beard to look more mature or your daughter coming to you to ask for money to buy lip gloss – what would you do or say?
I should say I was lucky because my mum allowed me go all out for my 13th and I even got goth makeup. Some of my friends on the other hand didn’t touch a tinted lip gloss till they were 16 and 18.
I notice nowadays that a lot of women try to give their kids as much freedom as possible and want them to grow into young adults. But how much of it should we allow? I’ve seen 3-year-olds with fake lashes, lip stick and penciled-in brows; and please don’t get me started on the ‘Christmas Hair’ mandate.
When I discussed this with a female friend of mine she absolutely did not agree with my mum’s choice of letting me wear makeup at 13. “No oh! That’s too soon! You were still a small girl. My daughter will not know what they call lipstick until she is in university. Even then ‘sef’, all this contouring and Nike eyebrows will be a no no!“. “It’s a no ‘abeg’“. Point taken.
Another aspect is if we aren’t talking about regular child. For example, in the modelling industry younger equals better. So does the rule also apply to child models? There are parents who allow their kids go into modelling at young ages; and in the modelling world that comes with attention to beauty and grooming. Does this factor into shielding your kids from caring about their appearance to soon?
It boils down to this – do we allow our kids the luxury of being free enough to try new things with beauty and grooming and hope for the best, or do we control as much of that aspect as we can and still hope for the best? Do we let our kids be free and learn from their experiences; after all it took me a bloody face to know you don’t mix eyebrows and razors. Does becoming a teenager automatically qualify you to take beauty into your own hands or do you need to be at least 18 or older? How much restriction should a child have when it comes to beauty & grooming?