Monday, March 17, 2008
Amy Winehouse and Lassie--both wearing too much eyeliner.
Today's topic is "Is it appropriate for a 7th-grader to wear eyeliner?" This topic was thrust upon me by my own 7th-grader who insists that "all the other girls are wearing it." HA! I accept that sentence for the challenge it is. I set out to find out if this were indeed true. I emailed all my friends in the neighborhood who have 7th grade girls.
Of course, what I found out was that not all of them do. But a lot more of them do than I expected. Especially because I consider eyeliner to be a very advanced form of makeup--one I still have not mastered and is usually worn by girls who have names like Britney and Lilo and hookers. Unlike mascara or lip gloss which can enhance what's already there, eyeliner is just not natural (unless of course you are a raccoon).
I have concluded that I am just not ready to allow her to wear it but that I will probably allow it sooner than I would have been comfortable with (her wedding day?).
But in soliciting opinions on this topic one of the moms I respect the most in the neighborhood had the best response of all. So here it is--wisdom from Jennifer K., wise mom in my town and one of those voices of reason we should all listen to more often:
"I am genuinely frightened by the idea that [eyeliner could make a young girl look better]. I believe that this is the same logic that is used between young girls as they try to "help" one another "improve themselves". It scares me that any middle schooler should ever feel that there is something they should do to "look better", short of brushing their teeth on a regular basis and changing their underwear (both which seem to be almost too much to ask of my sixth grade boy).
I know I am in the minority here and to be quite honest about it the issue for me is not the eyeliner or any of the make-up, it is the message that wonderful young women are forced to process, internalize and respond to on a daily basis about their appearance. There is so much pressure to be the perfect student, the perfect daughter, the best athlete, the most wonderful performer that to have them feel that they don't measure up physically and should work on finding ways to "look better" seems to me to be just too much.
While I always want Maggie to choose clothing that is flattering, not inappropriate or completely out of the norm (sometimes this a huge challenge) but beyond that a focus on her appearance or anyone else's worries me. Again, not having much to offer in the pretty gene pool maybe I just don't understand the value of being pretty . As an overweight, often frumpy, gray haired middle aged Mom I don't ever want my kid to use pretty or making the effort to look better to determine anything about herself or others. I certainly understand not wanting to be seen in the drop off line at school in the mornings when I have my wet hair, baseball cap, sunglasses, jammies, no-bra and morning breath but if you see me I hope after a smile and cheery good morning you don't notice or care and are no longer frightened by my appearance. If I was worried about "looking better" my kids would be tardy all the time.
Yah, I know I am old and this acceptance is part of aging but I think that my Mom gave me a great gift as a kid never suggesting I needed to improve my appearance (except for those really tight Gloria Vanderbilt jeans she insisted I stop wearing) and I am trying to give that (although I have no way of knowing if I am getting there or not) to my daughters. I hope that to help my girls "look better" I get them to understand that a bright smile, warm greeting and caring demeanor go a lot further than make-up or hair color. I guess it is my naivete about things here "on the northshore" and apologize for ranting but I am genuinely scared about this and truly believe that all of these girls are lovely, I wish they knew it, believed it and could help one another believe it
I can honestly say that I probably won't notice if Grace is wearing make-up or not because all I see when I look at her is the kind empathetic person that I got to know at the plays. She is going to make a great adult that I will be proud to know, with or without eyeliner.
By the way, if Atticus decides to start wearing eyeliner........I will NOTICE!!!!!!"
Fair enough Jennifer. And thanks for telling it like it is, as always.