Make up has been occupying my thoughts a wee bit recently. I shall use this post to pontificate about this for a while so if you happen to be a male reader who has little interest in girly stuff then I'd stop reading now. If, however, you fancy eavesdropping on something from which you would normally be excluded then continue to read in a surreptitious fashion.
So my thoughts have fallen into three categories.
1. How to continue to look about 35 when my 43rd birthday is fast approaching?
2. How to dissuade my pre-teen daughter from getting sucked in too soon?
3. Whether make up on a six year old is cute or disturbing?
Me first. The older I get the more resigned I become to the fact that I have to wear more and more make up to make it look like I don't have any on. I fear that the days of a lick of mascara and some lip gloss sufficing have left me for good. And so, fuelled by a need to maintain the illusion of youth together with a degree of curiosity, I can now be found sharking around the cosmetic counters in swanky department stores looking for the next miracle product.
I have never really been much of a make up kind of girl, going for the low maintenance approach and sticking to the same kind of formula for years. I bought my first make up back in 1981 on a Saturday afternoon in the sorely missed Woolies on Lincoln High Street. My best friend and I went to town to buy make up. She had slightly more idea than me as she had an elder sister but both of us were make up virgins. I bought a trio of blue eye shadows, a blue mascara and a thick and very smudgy electric blue eyeliner. I thought I looked the very picture of glamour and sophistication. Remember it was the 1980s before you criticize me too roundly.
Fortunately my blue period didn't last long and pretty soon I fell into black eyeliner along with everyone else.
Then, when I turned 40 I decided that my make up needed a radical overhaul and I recruited a friend to help me to face the beautifully groomed women in the makeup halls. We picked a stand and volunteered to be made over. An hour later I was wearing more make up than I had worn in the previous year and whilst the overall effect was quite scary, I could see that the products had some merit if applied with slightly less vigour and so a purchase was made. I shudder at how much money I spent but I was pleased with all my beautiful little boxes and delicate brushes. Since then I haven't looked back and have added to my collection as and when my eye is caught by something new, always sticking to the same brand to which I now feel a strange kind of loyalty ( and because it all matches and makes my drawer look ordered.)
And so now I am sucked in. If I don't apply I look tired and in need of a good holiday but that's ok. I have made time in my morning routine. It has become part of my life, like cleaning my teeth. But whilst I am experimenting with my products, so is my 12 year old which throws up a different set of issues. She has a mixed selection of stuff ranging from the delicate and pretty to the downright nasty. I am not even sure how some of it found its way into the house. When she puts make up on she does so with a greater level of skill than I ever had and looks either pretty or way too old depending on what she puts on.
But of course, wearing make up in her bedroom is not enough. She wants to go out in it. At this point we part company. I tell her she looks better without it. She doesn't believe me. " But everyone else wears it," she says. I didn't believe her until I saw a group of her classmates in Costa Coffee. I knew they 11 and 12 but my companion put them at closer to 15. Full make up. Foundation, smokey eyes, pouty lips. The works. I am up against some pretty strong opposition. I suppose I will have to give in gracefully starting with mascara and ending up who knows where. I bought her Bobbi Brown's "Teenage Beauty" and hope some of the guru's natural beauty ethos will wear off.
Which brings me to my last point. All three of my girls have been out for tea and come home caked in colour looking not unlike Aunt Sally. That is all part of growing up and pretend play and I have to accept it, although it makes me cringe. But make over parties for six year olds? Free lip gloss with shoes? Eyeshadow in Christmas stockings? Surely there are plenty of other things that appeal to little girls. Do we really have to introduce them to such grown up fascinations so early? I have to wonder whether girls are really growing up quicker than they did in my day or whether we are encouraging them to skip through their childhood by providing them with the wherewithal. So tomorrow my six year old will have to go to school with the remains of scarlet nail varnish on as I have no hope of removing it effectively. At least she won't be the only one.