Our oldest daughter turned thirteen a while ago. All children are different, but she has seemed to display the most maturity of all of our kids according to their respective ages. It’s something that has actually concerned us at times with her because it can occasionally be correlated to a habitual means to survival. Sort of like a “keep your head down and don’t draw attention” technique. However, we still reward the good behavior with extended bedtimes and, around her 13th birthday, a new opportunity to try make-up for the first time.
My Love-Hate Relationship with Make-up.
Personally, I have had a love-hate relationship with make-up for a long time now. I grew up with the idea that make-up is what made you important…and beautiful. My mom never left the house without it. And every girl in school had a particular routine with particular brands that had to be flaunted. In middle school, you scrunched your hair with Garnier spray in hair gel, plucked your eyebrows thin, loaded your locks with highlights, wore Abercrombie and Hollister if you were anything cool and carried a bright, monogrammed L.L. Bean backpack. Oh, and don’t skimp on the make-up.
As a preteen I remember sitting in the back of the school bus with some of the high school girls. I couldn’t believe they wanted me to sit by them! Apparently it was to pick me apart and tease me. That was the day I went home and asked my mom why she didn’t tell me I was supposed to shave my legs. After that, I just wanted to fit in, like most kids. I was terrified that any small mistake would bring a tidal wave of judgement against me.
As I got older, I began to realize that no amount of primping was ever enough. My hair was never quite like the other girls, my parents couldn’t afford Abercrombie and Hollister and I even had a high school boyfriend tell me that a size 11 pants was too big and that he “would be happier if I got down to at least a size 7”.
A Turning Point.
My frustrations with everyone around me eventually exploded, and in a moment of what felt like hopelessness for a teenager, I asked to be dropped off at church. I made new friends there and built healthier relationships and recommitted my life to Christ. That’s when my confidence started to skyrocket. Learning who I truly was, how strong I was, was a struggle but people respected me for it. Still high school was no walk in the park, but the loss didn’t sting as bad.
…But My Confidence Waivered…
Over the years, and especially during my first and failed marriage, I still struggled with my confidence and self worth. During that time, I was told I was prettier with make-up and that I was getting too fat, among other things. All that confidence I was trying to build was slowly being ground out of me. I couldn’t understand how something so artificial could drown out who I was.
All I could think was, “What have I done? Nothing I do is ever enough. My appearance, my clothes, my weight….why doesn’t he just love ME?” But that is a different redemption story.
The point is, it made me angry that I had once again allowed everyone else’s opinion to influence my opinion of myself. When I left that situation, I had to relearn these things:
I am the daughter of the Most High. I am a redeemed disciple of Christ. I am a warrior both in the earthly and the spiritual realms. I am more precious than rubies (proverbs 3:15) and fearfully and wonderfully made (psalm 139:14) in His image (Gen 1:27). Nothing can separate me from Him (Rom 8:35). I have been sanctified, I am chosen. I am loved. And God finds me beautiful despite the world’s opinions.
So How Do I Teach My Daughter?
I found my identity is Christ. So how do I teach this to her? How can I assure my daughter that whether she chooses to accentuate her beautiful features with make-up or never pick it up again, that she is beautiful no matter? She is accepted and that no material thing can make her more or less to her Creator…and even to us?
Believe it or not, this was a conversation Garrett and I had several times before we ever had daughters. To most people it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I was scarred by my own past experiences. In having that conversation with him, we never knew that God was preparing us for daughters that had also struggled with their self-worth, albeit from different circumstances.
I told him I didn’t ever want my daughter to feel like she needed make-up to be beautiful. I wanted her to be comfortable in the skin God gave her and never look back. However, I rode the fence because I also didn’t want them to feel like it was bad just because I barely wear it. So when I decided to let her try it out after turning thirteen, I was trying to be careful what I said. Sometimes I think kids read so deeply into our words that they assume something we never meant for them to assume.
So We Bought Her Make-up!
It was a mom and daughter shopping trip which rarely happens with 5 other kids. We went to Wal-Mart and I showed her how to match her skin color, explained the basics, and bought a box to put it in. When we got home, I taught her how to apply it. And guess what? She looked beautiful! All the kids ooo’d and ahh’d.
Then she went to school (before we homeschooled) and her friends and teachers had her in the spotlight. Everyone was being kind and telling her how beautiful she looked. It worried me, however, because all I could think about was kids at school telling me I looked sick all day if I didn’t wear it. But maybe that’s a singular experience, right?
Eventually, she wore it to church and everyone wanted to make her feel good. They all commented on her eyes. (God made them big, brown and beautiful)
And so months passed. She wore it some days and went without it others.
And Then This Happened…
Lent rolled around and Pastor preached on what it represented and of course, fasting. She talked about how the fast is not just something that we pull out of thin air to benefit ourselves or see if we can last 40 days. And my oldest was listening.
It’s important to note that we are not catholic and do not necessarily follow catholic doctrine regarding lent.
It was a couple of days later that I offered to give her a piece of candy which she refused. I asked her why she didn’t want any (that’s never an issue!) and she responded that she chose to fast from candy for lent. I started to nod and walk away, but it was as if God prompted me to stay and inquire. So to make sure that she understood, I asked her questions about lent and fasting and why she chose candy.
She seemed to fully understand what she was doing. She had listened closely at church. Then it gutted me when she said what else she was fasting. She said:
“….I’m fasting from candy because that’s what is the hardest for me, and also make-up because I don’t feel like I’m pretty without it.”
For those that do not know her, you may think this was an issue of vanity or a misunderstanding on her part. But as a gut-punched mother, I stayed and talked to her. She understood. She felt guilty for feeling that way. It was nothing that I had said or implied…but she felt like God was trying to tell her that she was beautiful, but her flesh (and the enemy) was telling her she was not.
She fasted from make-up to tell the devil where to stick it, ya’ll. And she did it on her own. She built herself up in the most humble, Jesus reflecting way possible. It made me proud.
Then vs. Now
She made her 40 days without any help or complaining. She also found her identity…and beauty…in Christ. Now, she occasionally wears a little mascara when she wants to, but rarely “puts on a face”. I don’t say a word, except that she is beautiful all the time. When her curious sisters that are coming up right behind her ask, I explain to them that God made all of them beautiful in the skin they already have. There is nothing wrong with them wearing make-up if they want to, as long as they never forget that they are worth something without it, too.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.“
1 Peter 3: 3-4
If you have a story about your daughter’s experience wearing make-up, or your own, leave a comment and let us know!
God bless you!