A little over a week ago, I asked Facebook what they thought of my tension over children in make up and/or in adult styled clothes? Most people agreed putting make up on children sexualizes them. To be clear: My tension with children in makeup is because I do not believe makeup and/or sexy clothes should ever = sex. Because it doesn’t! Clothes and makeup can be expressions of SO many things.. Though sometimes they are representations of feeling sexy and/or attractive (which, to be clear, does not mean sex). I took serious issue with my knee-jerk reaction. Consciously, I do not agree with my subconscious. There is some work left to do, you know?
I do not think we should contribute to an idea that clothes and makeup, used to be attractive or to enhance attractiveness or.. whatever the reason, should automatically equate with sex. That leads to our default assumption about someone who is wearing “attractive” clothes (whatever that means; the definition varies from culture to culture) and/or makeup is looking for sex or wants sexual attention. THAT is dangerous and simply untrue. There are so many reasons why people wear clothes that revel the lines of their figure or use make up to enhance features (or play down certain features). So much of it is just normal in our culture anyway. It’s just.. habit and expected (many women put make up on for the work place. It’s only recently the requirement of wearing makeup has been disputed).
Even after dismissing this reason for being uncomfortable in my subconscious and reaffirming with myself that clothes/makeup does NOT equal sex (I have plenty of habits to undo), I still felt uncomfortable.
There was a comment left on my FB page that this robs children of their childhood. I think this is what bothers me. It’s not that I don’t think children should learn about how to be a fantastic adult. I do! Childhood is the foundation for how are default adult characters will be. And that’s the problem I have with putting adult makeup and adult clothes on children. There is sooooo much time for this later in life. In fact, MOST of our lives, we will spend being adults. Playing with clothes, playing with our hair.. and while we say looks are not important.. we understand, as adults, that our societies will judge us based on our looks, how we present ourselves. I’m not saying that doing this is correct way to be but it is a reality (which is why I fight rape culture; because people still think how a victim is dressed contributes to rape and well, the victim had it coming. That’s flat out wrong).
Childhood should be about building character. They already watch adults primp, figure out what clothes to wear, spray on cologne or perfume and fix their hairs.. or not do any of these things. They are observing. So why put them in the position to make adult decisions? Why can’t they just left to observe a while? Those years of figuring out how they want to express themselves are coming up fast.
Then again, I have a friend who lets her daughter (under the age of 10) dye her hair the color she wants (I thinks he picked pink). I think that’s awesome! But it was seeing a 7 year old I know, happily showcasing her bras to me.. made my heart sink and my stomach cringe. Seeing her in eyeshadow got to me. That is what triggered this discomfort. She’s just a little girl. It doesn’t seem like costumes .. or playtime. It felt too grown up.
Perhaps I haven’t figured it out just yet.. What do you think?