Teaching our daughters the truth about beauty.

We all want our daughters to be So a few days ago in my private Facebook group, The Beautiful World of Women, one of the ladies posed a dilemma about what’s appropriate in regards to make up and self expression through fashion when raising young girls.

I also have 2 young girls, 7yrs and 10yrs, who have been begging me for make up for years! They love stepping into my heals, they love wearing my cocktail dresses, they’ve been caught with my goddess red lipstick in hand much to my horror and I’ve freaked out at their insistence on wearing 80’s corn blue (aka porn blue) eye-shadow!!!

But how much of this is harmless self expression and where do you draw the line in order to protect them from sexualising themselves and from what is now termed by sociologists as ‘slut culture’. Yes it’s now an actual term!

You know those young women who dress with too much skin exposed solely to express their sexual self in order to seek approval from the boys; the overtly flirtatious giggles, the way too short barely there skirts, the teeny tiny dresses that even as adults we can’t figure out if it’s a dress or if she forgot to put pants on under her slightly longer than normal t shirt, the shockingly over the top garish make-up; the girls on the hunt to attract male attention in order to validate their sexual self as a worthy prize.

Maybe it’s a natural part of growing up, maybe it’s a product of low self esteem, a lack of boundaries or society’s warped perception that women exist for men’s sexual gratification… I mean the marketing world exploits the whole ‘sex sells’ concept on a daily basis. Do we really need to allow our daughters to accept this a ‘coming of age’ stage? What if we, as parents, challenged these perceptions and educate our daughters to validate themselves internally, to feel comfortable in their own skin, to express themselves creatively and through intelligent thought and conversation, to value the virtues on the inside more then their ‘assets’ on the outside (why do we even refer to breasts and buttocks as ‘assets’???) and most importantly how to maintain healthy boundaries and know how to decipher which boys also value Virtues over Vulvas?

In our household my girls know my stance on little girls and make up. It’s a no-no. I’ve set the boundary that they can’t own make up til they’re 16yrs. That’s my boundary and we all need to find our own boundaries that sit well with us as individuals.

In the mean time there’s a few exceptions to the rule, such as dance performances, weddings, adult birthday celebrations etc, and the occasional bonding girls night where we paint our nails and experiment plaiting our hair and lip glosses. I don’t think a total ban on make up is necessary, it just needs its boundaries as much as junk food does.

I think it’s also important to have age appropriate independent use of make up rules ie clear lip balms til 10yrs, then maybe a tinted lip balm after from 10yrs old. Again families need to find their own levels of comfort, but a clear lip balm never hurt anyone but the wool carpet it gets mushed into.

I’ve also found it useful to teach the girls about why I wear make up. I wear “barely there” make-up to work on a daily basis and keep it basic and use neutral colours, but I also love getting expressive with make-up for date nights and playing with sparkly gold glittery eye shadows and coloured eye liners. I’m pretty fond of my poppy red lipstick, my Chanel N’5 perfume, my black eyeliner, my bronzer, my highlighter, a good blush, eye primer….. ok so you get the picture – I LOVE to play with make up!  So I like to emphasise to my daughters that make-up and fashion is a creative process and a form of self expression vs the ‘I wear make-up to make myself look pretty’. Make-up will not fix your life and nor is it a solution for low self-esteem and self-worth.

It’s a fine line because we all know the power of a red lipstick that instantly boosts your confidence and the magic of mascara that lengthens our lashes to frame the windows of our souls….. but confidence and highlighting our assets are concepts I feel are too much for young girls to navigate when they haven’t yet learnt that confidence and beauty come from within first and foremost!!

The most empowering concepts I can talk to my girls about as we navigate these issues heading into puberty, is to have open discussions about beauty and what beauty means, not just to me but to them as well; to help them understand that real beauty is something we cultivate from the inside and not from a $25 lip gloss.

We won’t always know if our conversations are really sinking in at times until those golden moments, like last month, when Olivia was watching me getting ready in the morning and commented, ‘Mummy you don’t need make up to be beautiful. You’re already beautiful to me just as you are’.

Those are the mornings now I put my own eyeliner down and find myself trusting in the beauty they see in their own eyes…..

So what do I want to teach my daughters about beauty?

To be honest it hit me the most when I went through all our photos trying to find the right image for this blog. The most beautiful photos I could find were the crazy ones of us, pulling sill faces, throwing our heads back with laughter, celebrating birthdays, Olivia learning to surf, Lila shoving our beloved chicken down the slide, the first time Olivia and I went scuba diving when she was 8yrs, the holidays we bonded, the giant bubble spa baths that got out of control, my daughters with a face covered in food…..our ability to create beautiful memories…. now that is true beauty.

If you want more information about re framing the idea of beauty as concept of creative self expression, download The Truth About Beauty ebook, and check out our Mother & Daughter workshops!

Stay beautiful xx