It's not child's play
Carmen Baldwin, the 9-year-old daughter of actor Alec Baldwin, put on makeup for her first day in Grade IV. Hilaria Baldwin, her mother and a businesswoman, podcaster, author, and yoga instructor, took to Instagram to show off her eldest child's new look, which included black lipstick.
The post immediately raised eyebrows. While it is important to allow children to express themselves creatively, parenting experts warn that small children wearing makeup can have a negative impact on confidence.
Carmen is not alone in this trend. The Kardashian-Jenner children, like their famous parents, have been known to flaunt their makeup skills over the years. “My daughter loves makeup,” said Kim, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians alum. “She has a little vanity in her room that my mom [Kris Jenner] gave her for Christmas.”
Serena Williams shared a series of videos titled “Serena Fierce Beauty” on her Instagram story, in which she gave viewers an inside look at her favourite afternoon face wash, but it was her two-year- old’s makeup mayhem that caught attention. Celebrity children also twin with their parents, and wear heels and sunglasses.
Megha Singh, a mom and social media influencer with kids
In previous generations, girls may have awkwardly experimented with their mothers' eye shadow and lipstick, but now they expertly create a flawless base and apply cheek highlighter.
But how healthy is this trend? Experts express concern.
An instinctive response
“I have two daughters and I enjoy dressing them up. I believe that it is an instinct for parents of daughters to dress their children infancy clothes with matching hair accessories and shoes. In a way, this is how they learn to dress appropriately when going out. They become aware of the fact that we dress differently for different occasions,” says Ankita Jain, insta influencer. “They see their mothers or aunts wearing makeup and want to emulate them. It is a good thing, in my opinion, that children are aware of their appearance from a young age. Our role as parents is to assist them in understanding what is appropriate for which occasion. We must discourage them from wearing makeup to school,” she adds.
Taking a leaf from Mummy’s book
Esha Malhotra, Child Psychologist, Personality Development Coach, and Art Therapist and mother of 8-year-old Khyaaty, believes that children are a reflection of their parents. “A young girl looks up to her mother and other women in general, and develops an interest in cosmetics. A girl with mascara on her eyes, blush on her cheeks, and properly applied lipstick at school is not for school,” says Esha.
The image of me
It’s crucial to have body image conversations as young as possible. “When children are in their preteens, they begin to pay attention to their body image. Makeup is usually encouraged at dance and drama rehearsals because it enhances the role played. Some children become self-conscious about their appearance when they are not wearing makeup. They begin to dislike their bare faces and themselves. As a result, they are predisposed to body image dysmorphia,” says Dr. Era Dutta, Consultant Psychiatrist, Tedx Speaker, and Founder — Mind Wellness.
The Barbie effect
There are numerous toys that encourage children to wear makeup. “A child is given a Barbie doll and accompanying makeup and accessory kits,” points out Megha Singh, a mom and social media influencer. “We develop an innate sense of beauty as children by changing our appearance with accessories and cosmetics. It is a disgrace that parents are being chastised for allowing their children to use cosmetics at a time when society glorify actresses and fashion shows featuring models drenched in beauty products. It is critical to recognise that the fault lies not with the parent as an individual, but with society as a whole.”
“Young children are constantly exposed to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), Do-it-Yourself activities, and makeup tutorials with no restrictions. This encourages the child to conduct similar experiments in order to increase the number of likes and subscribers on their social media profiles until it becomes ingrained in their personality. Even if you try to discourage such behaviour, your children will continue to engage in it behind your back,” adds Megha.
“Almost all online shows have young kids, both male and female, put on makeup and dress in a certain way that encourages them to think that this is the norm,” says Era.
What’s in all those tubes?
Sooner or later, natural curiosity will take over, your children will begin stealing your makeup, and you will need to take action.
“Children are naturally curious, and when they see their mothers or older siblings doing something, they want to do the same. When we as parents forbid our children from exploring, their curiosity grows, which encourages rebellious behaviour such as lying and deception. So, if the child wants to try out make-up, we should let them do so under supervision and explain things to them,” says Shruti Tibrewala, jewellery designer and mother of Sudiksha Tibrewala (16) and Myra Tibrewala (8).
Striking a balance
“As mothers, we must choose between preserving our children's innocence and allowing them to mature into the world's definition of beauty. When young girls notice you wearing make-up, explain why you're wearing it and how to properly apply it. That answers theirquestion ‘Why can Mumma put it on but not me right now?’” says Esha.
Kim's eldest child, North, experimented with special effects makeup
As the mother of a four-year-old girl, Madhulika Maniyar, corporate employee, blogger and influencer, believes that applying makeup on a child’s delicate skin will prove harmful in the long run. “I understand that children want to mimic what we do; their desire to wear makeup is genuine. However, as parents, we can teach them about the dangers of makeup and how it can irritate their sensitive skin. I used organic and chemical-free makeup on my child once or twice, thinking it wouldn't be too harmful and that my daughter would be happy. But I soon realised I was making a mistake and stopped the practice. I'm relieved she no longer requests makeup,” says Madhulika.
Join the club
There is constant peer pressure on children to adopt the latest trends, regardless of the consequences. It could be a new phone, a new bag, or participating in endless social media trends. “Parents are not the only source of inspiration for their children. The solution to this problem is to educate the child about the negative effects of using beauty products. The most pressing need is for society to refrain from glorifying and measuring beauty in terms of appearance,” says Megha.
A healthy compromise
The bottom line is that adult makeup is not for children, and a strategy has to be drawn up to make young kids aware of this.
“The idea is to establish healthy boundaries. It is widely accepted that there is no right or wrong age to begin wearing makeup, which means that some children are introduced to makeup early on, but in small doses, with the idea that it can be used to enhance, but is not to be applied with a heavy hand. Other children are introduced to makeup much later in life,” says Era adding, “With or without makeup, the goal is to create and boost a child's self-esteem. Recognize the child's nonphysical characteristics while encouraging them to look physically presentable.”