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Daughter Dolling Up Dilemmas

Posted: August 14, 2011
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I read this piece by Sue who in turn had linked up this page. Some days ago R came to me and said Amma, mereko nail paint chaheye (Amma, I want nail paint). At first I thought she was talking about the finger painting kit my cousin D had given her…and I told her, that it’s already finished. So she showed me her nails and said nahi amma nail paint (No Amma, nail paint). 

I must admit I stared open mouthed at her…One, I dont wear nail paint..I have never worn it. Two, I don’t talk about nail paint at home ever to RD (what’s the point!) So I was sure this came in from the daycare. 

RM: But R, who told you about nail paint?

R: S ne bola (S told me), her mom put it for her

RM: But R you are too young to wear nail paint…grow a bit older and I will buy for you. It will get into your food from your hands and that’s not good na?

R: But amma, S is also young na, uski amma ne usko lagaya..woh bhi hand use karti hai na (her mother put it for her, she also uses her hand na)

And RM didn’t have an answer. Trust me, this was one of the very few instances in life where I lacked speech. I don’t use any make up at all except kajal – no powder, no foundation, no eyeliner, no lipstick..heck..not even bindi…and now with R being a girl and all, I was wondering, if I am depriving her of all this make up stuff…

My mom has always used powder and bindi all her life, that’s it. Mom used to use nail paint whenever Appa got one for her. He had this single colour he always bought (Reckless Red) and ma used to put that on once in a while!

I still bite my nails so the whole concept of nail paint is a lost cause as far as I am concerned, but I am wondering, what’s the right age to start letting your child use nail paint and stuff? I recently went to a gynac here in Mumbai for something and she is this really awesome looking lady all decked up and all. We started talking and she said her 12 year old daughter wants to wax her legs because everyone in her school is doing so. The doc, obviously didn’t let the daughter do anything with her body hair and then told her that till she was 18, she wasn’t allowed to do anything. After that, she would be an adult and could do what she wished. 

Which got me wondering, has the media penetrated so deep into our thought process that beauty is always only with make up, that even 3 year olds are getting affected? Have you ever seen an image in a magazine or newspaper where the women are not all decked up, or without lipstick or eyeliner? I don’t recall a single one unless you count the pictures they put up of poor women who need to look desparate and needy or whatever!

Can you imagine parents letting their 12 year olds wax? What kind of body image are they projecting? If you let your 12 year old wax, you are just teaching her that body hair is bad..or women’s body hair is not a good thing. It’s really sad and depressing that parents are letting their children do that!

My mom had this lady in Baroda who used to come home once in a month to put mehendi in her hair; she used to tell me that girls as young as 12 do come to her regularly for eyebrow shaping and waxing..and regularly means once in 15 days! That caught me by surprise…when I was 12, my thoughts were more on how to get that murukku that amma made into my hand and eventually into my mouth, or how to get that stupid maths homework done…I don’t think I even bothered about my looks. Was it because my mom was never bothered?

Does upbringing or surroundings where you have been brought up, have a role to play in this? If my mom used make up all the time, would I have been affected and used it as well? There are a lot of things my mom didn’t do which I am doing…like wear jeans and t-shirts or never wear saree (ma always wears only sarees.. ya ya I am still trying to teach her the advantages of a salwar kameez over saree…but when will she understand!)  or even wear capris and skirts…which obviously means that it’s not ONLY upbringing that matters…

What also matters is the surroundings you live in…I obviously have women in my office who use a lot of make up..but I don’t…and when I think hard, it’s more because I am too lazy…kajal is fine, though again when I think hard is of no use behind my soda bottle glasses, but let’s leave that aside! 

The whole point of my post is this: 

1. What is the right age to allow your daughter to start using nail paint or any other make up…or rather is there a right age at all?
2. What is the right age to allow girls to wax themselves?
3. Am I depriving R of anything, because I personally don’t use make up? (No, I dont feel deprived because my mom didn’t use make up but those were different times and these are different times)

Any answers?

R’s Mom is a working mother in Mumbai trying to balance work, home and

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