Why I Tell My Daughter She Is Beautiful

By Kimberly Zapata

Recently, my daughter began applying “makeup.” Not real makeup — she is 3, after all, and couldn’t tell you the difference between foundation and blush even if she tried — but pretend makeup.

Which is to say she refers to her Rubble Paw Patrol badge as a compact, her chapstick as her “lipstick,” and just yesterday, she tried to apply “eyeshadow” with an unsharpened pencil. (Yikes!)

Of course, I find this arrangement absolutely adorable. I think it’s sweet when she carries her stool over to the bathroom mirror so she can primp and prep. And it’s just darling that she offers to do my makeup (especially since I rarely wear anything aside from pimple cream and sunscreen). But I often wonder where she even picked up this habit. With an un-made-up Mommy, where the hell did this desire to wear makeup even come from?

However, regardless of its origins or how cute she is when she applies faux powder to her face, whenever my daughter says, “Mommy, I need my lipstick” I cringe. When my daughter says, “I have to do my makeup,” my stomach turns in knots. And when she is done and utters the words, “See Mommy, I pretty now,” I honestly want to throw up — because no matter how sweet or innocent her desires may seem, I do not want her believe makeup makes her a better person. I do not want her to believe her beauty determines her worth, and I do not want her to invest her time and energy and her entire sense of self in being beautiful, because young girls and women are so much more than just a pretty face and a smile.

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