How Young Is Too Young To Wear Makeup?

How Young is Too Young to Wear Makeup? |
A few weeks ago I was browsing products at Sephora. While looking in the Laura Mercier section, I overhead a conversation between two teenage girls. One said, “I heard Nars has a really good foundation. Look at this one.” I turned to look their way and saw both girls had near-perfect skin that didn’t need foundation, let alone one with heavy coverage one. I wanted to tell them how beautiful their skin was and that they should consider something lighter. But I stopped myself not wanting to ruin the sale for the employee helping them. So instead I walked to another section, and as if right on cue, saw a father applying lip gloss to high six-year-old’s lips. What should have been an adorable moment instead made me feel conflicted. Between these two incidents that happened in just a matter of moments, I started wonder: How young was too young to wear makeup?

My relationship with makeup started around 13 when I got my hands on my older sister’s copy of “Making Faces” by Kevyn Aucoin. I begged my younger sisters to let me do their makeup and applied Vaseline to their lids like Aucoin direction. You know, to give that editorial look.

Despite an early introduction, by high school my interest in makeup faded away as I became more interested in writing and politics. It wasn’t until college that I found makeup again after buying the BareMinerals Get Started Kit. I was living in New York City at the time and was decidedly more interested in dressing like Mary-Kate Olsen than wearing tons of makeup. However, all bets were off once I moved to South Carolina where women just seemed more made up. Maybe it was part interest or maybe it was part wanting to fit in, but I started to routinely wear makeup.

By the time I started routinely wearing makeup, I had already rooted my identity in other interests and traits. I didn’t feel the need to pull my appearance into the equation of who I was. Instead, I saw makeup as a form of artistry that changed the way I saw myself in the mirror. Ironically, this is how I also saw makeup at 13. Makeup gave me opportunities to take risks and learn lessons. I wasn’t covering up who I was, I was enhancing it.

I don’t know what the right answer is when it comes to the “right” age to start wearing makeup. I would hope that most people would come to makeup after they are confident in themselves because I don’t think makeup should be a mask we hide behind. Makeup should help someone feel like they are the best version of themselves.

What do you think? What age did you start wearing makeup? I’d love to hear your perspective.

Avoiding Thinspiration: My Quest for Healthy Body Image

Growing up, the back of my bedroom door was covered with photos of models and celebrities I had meticulously clipped from Seventeen, Teen Vogue and Elle. While I admired the dresses donned by the various starlets, the bedroom door served a dual darker purpose. I spent hours standing in the mirror trying to figure out how to make my collar bones pop out like Gwyneth Paltrow’s in her bubble gum pink Oscars ball gown (you remember the one). I didn’t know it then, but my door was what I would today consider “thinspiration,” which some describe as a collection of images that glorify eating disorders and promote distorted body image.

While I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder, like many women, I’ve struggled with poor body image. Every now and then, I look in the mirror with a critical eye at “problem” areas, thinking, “Could I be thinner?” Most of the time, I respond with, “You’re being silly! Stop worrying!” I’m slowly learning to be kind to myself, to my heart and to my body.

Despite having a healthier body image these days, online I run into detours that are completely out of my control. Last week, while looking at Pinterest, I scrolled past several images easily classified as thinspiration–very thin but muscular women in revealing workout clothes. Some may see these images as workout tips or inspiration. What I saw was what I wasn’t. Again, I found my mind back in the same place:

Was that what I was supposed to look like?
Could I have better abs?
Should I be thinner? More toned?

In spite of my best efforts to avoid the things that negatively impacted my body image when I was younger, I still run into them randomly online. For the past week, I’ve been thinking about ways to avoid images that negatively impact the way I feel about myself. One strategy has been to unfollow boards on Pinterest that are aimed at fitness or solely feature thin models. Another thing I’ve been doing is unfollowing people on Twitter who predominantly talk about weight loss.

What Do You Think?

Do you experience this same issue? How do you deal with getting dragged down? What’s your advice for navigating a thinspiration-free web?

My Mom’s Style Rules

Advice From My Mother

My mother and I–we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to fashion. She’s much more classic à la Jackie O., whereas I’m more Mary-Kate Olsen mixed with how Angela Chase might dress like if she were real and in her 20s Despite our differences, my mom taught me two important fashion lessons:

1. If something doesn’t look great on you, it’s the clothes
2. Wear clothes that fit you

Growing up, I got used to hearing my mom’s honest opinions on how clothes fit whenever we went shopping. It was never, “You look awful in that!” but rather, “I think you should go up a size because it’s too tight.” Those who overheard her in a dressing room may have thought she was being too critical, but I respected the fact that she was being honest, at least in retrospect. OK, there was ONE time she did say I looked like a sausage, but in her defense, I had shoved myself into a size 0 prom dress because it was pink, had sequins and was $10.

As a teenager thumbing through racks of misfit clothes at my local T.J. Maxx, I learned not to blame myself if something didn’t look right. While girls my age shoved themselves into too-tight flare jeans and unflattering bathing suits, I learned how to dress for what looked good on me. Did I always succeed? Of course not! But I was learning to try new styles, to not be afraid of trying on something new I hadn’t previously considered.

The simultaneous upside and downside of this lesson is that I’m brutally honest when shopping with friends. Some of them love it and ask me to help them figure out what looks good on them. The downside is potentially hurt feelings if I say I don’t like an item that they love. Here’s the thing, though: It shouldn’t matter if you love something and someone else doesn’t. If it looks great on you, if it fits well, if it makes you feel good, then it doesn’t matter if it gets the thumbs up from friends. Or your mom for that matter.

This isn’t a lesson everyone learns so young, but the good news is that it’s never too late to learn irregardless of age, size or gender (yes, it’s a lesson for men, too). What’s the most important fashion lesson your mom taught you?

Race, Body Image and the Conversation Bloggers Should Be Having

If you read IFB’s (Independent Fashion Bloggers) article “Bloggers & Body Image: Are We Helping Or Hurting Ourselves?” by Taylor Davies last week, you may have come away feeling hurt and confused. That’s how I felt. Davies writes:

The majority of very visible, successful style bloggers are thin and beautiful – which isn’t their fault of course, nor should they be chastised for it . . . The double-hitter is these “top tier” bloggers’ blogs are also really good. They have high-quality images, consistent posting schedules, spot-on design and unique style . . .

In order for a more holistic image of fashionable women to permeate the top tier of blogging as well as traditional fashion media, there needs to be a serious commitment to higher-quality content . . . At the moment, there aren’t enough blogs run by these types of women that get the notoriety they deserve.

The unspoken lynchpin was the word white. Though Davies didn’t write, “Thin, beautiful and white,” readers read it that way. What is essentially being said is this:  Not only are certain bloggers popular because they are white and thin, but bloggers of color and plus size bloggers aren’t working hard enough. And because they are not working hard enough, their blogs aren’t as good as their thin, white counterp

Though Davies and IFB didn’t intend to hurt and alienate the non-thin and non-white community, the damage was done.

What was missed was the opportunity to talk openly and honestly not only about about race and body image, but the differences between us as a fashion blogging community. There was a juncture where IFB could have initiated this conversation but the moment passed. I can only speculate as to why they didn’t go there, but my best guess it this: It’s a hard conversation to have, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have it.

Why is it that the majority of bloggers getting all the attention are white?  Why are are we so quick to write each other off when we bring up difficult topics like race and body image? How can we raise each other up and praise what makes us different?

I sincerely believe our community is strong enough to talk about the things that make us the same as well as the things that make us different. I believe we all have the power to change the conversation. 

From Around the Community

Today I read two poignant pieces responding to the original IFB article. If you know of any others, please link them in the comments. Here’s just two excerpts, and I encourage you to read the whole post.

Christina of LoveBrownSugar

From the time I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry, I’ve been faced with some hard, grim and painful realities. In my attempt to make my personal dreams come true, I’ve been slapped in the face with the truth about what it takes to make it to the height of true success . . . I’ve seen bloggers with all the potential in the world, the most amazing style, and personalities to boot consistently overlooked by the very brands they promote on a daily basis . . .I’ve seen stylists with immense talent and drive and creativity, relegated to working on projects that never see the light of day. It’s been a real cup of reali-tea for me. (Read More)

Ty of Gorgeous in Grey

. . .Head over to the magazine section at your favorite bookstore. Have a peek inside of any magazine – and just look at the cover. I’m usually not there. I am your average brown girl, cute – but not your typically fair skin, tall, weaved model type. I’ve got curves. The kind of curves that make a man take a double look. The kind that make a casting director say, “You’re a bit larger than what we’re looking for.” Point blank – I am not white, slim, and pretty. Although the last adjective might be debatable. (Read More)

And if that doesn’t open your eyes, I don’t know what will.

More posts from around the community:
Talk it Out: Body Image by Blonde and Black
Continuing the Conversation: Blogs and Beauty by Nicolette Mason
Sound Off: This Is Not How Apologies Work IFB by Promiscuous Lola
IFB: When Good Sites Go Bad by A Sunny Day in L.A.
It’s Not You, It’s Me: An Open Letter to IFB by The Citizen Rosebud
Cute and Cheap Merona Dress For Work by One Woman’s Style and Evolution
White, Slim and Pretty–But What About Me? on XOJane (Cross posted by Gorgeous in Grey)
Bloggers & Body Image Brouhaha discussion at Blog Trends
Requesting Your Assistance by Wardrobe Oxygen
Body Image & Diversity in Fashion Blogging – Is it an American Problem? by Girl Does Geek
IFB Founder Jennine Jacob Thinks You Didn’t Read The Post Correctly, Bullies at Shamepuff
Responding to IFB by Comme Coco
Diversity In The Blogging Industry by Deejay Speaks
Removing Myself from IFB by Dreafashionista
IFB Says Not Enough Women Who Aren’t Thin, Beautiful Have High Quality Blogs at Shamepuff

Original Post:
Some people were angered by the post originally made by IFB, which was later changed. I hunted down the original post, which was scrapped by an aggregator. You can read it via my screenshot here (source)

If you know of any others now mentioned here, please link below!

4 Ways to Foster Positive Body Image

I reached out to readers and asked them to share advice on how to encourage positive body image. As part of an ongoing discussing on body image, I compiled a list of 4 ways to improve and encourage positive body image.

Tips for Encouraging Positive Body Image

Realize that most images in the media are doctored or photoshopped. Think someone in a makeup ad or magazine article is flawless? Think again! The beauty industry is a $10 billion a year business that depends on women believing that perfectly modified images are real, and even more so, achievable ideals. The second you realize these images aren’t real, the quicker you can stop setting unrealistic expectations to live up to them.

“Whether you have a baby, gain some weight, get wrinkles, or gray hairs, it’s going to change. That’s why it’s important to remember to cut yourself some slack, don’t hold yourself to what the media standard of ‘beautiful’ is, and most importantly love yourself.” From Fierce by MJ

Stop the body snark. We’ve all been there before with a group of women who either speak badly about their own body or how others look. Start to notice when your friends are degrading themselves and point it out, because it may be a sign of a larger issue such as disordered eating or poor body image. Take yourself a step further and remove yourself from criticizing other women based on their appearance or personality.

“In middle school I heard a girl comment on how another girl looked ‘chunky; and that no one should be friends with her because of it. This comment, which wasn’t even directed towards me, changed the way I saw myself. The snarking I heard from my friends transformed into my eating disorder ‘voice’, which constantly reminded me of my imperfections and areas for improvement.” From Seventeen Magazine

Let real women inspire you. One of the things I love most about reading blogs is that I come in contact with everyday women who are just like me, and slowly over time, these women has become my new role models. When you turn to people you know whether it’s a sister or friend or blogger you follow, you’ll set yourself up for realistic goals and expectations. Yes, movie stars are fun to admire and there’s no reason you shouldn’t have big dreams for yourself, but it’s so empowering to turn to those around you for inspiration for your everyday life.

“A friend of mine used to tear pictures of models out of magazines and tape them to her wall. She said it gave her “inspiration” to work out. But how inspiring could it be, I wondered, to surround yourself with pictures of people you could never actually look like?” From Scarleteen, Recommended by Tashia

Reach out for help. Sometimes changing the conversation and turning to positive role models isn’t enough. If you ever feel like you need help because you are struggling with negative body image, disordered eating or an eating disorder, there is help. Find someone you trust to talk to whether it’s a friend, doctor or partner.

“My advice to anyone who is suffering is to take that leap of faith. Gain the courage to reach out and talk to someone about what you are going through. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late. You don’t want to not live the life that you wished to one day have.” From National Eating Disorders Association.

Sounding Off on Body Image

In this video below, I’ll talk more about the tips mentioned about and share my feelings on encouraging positive body image.

Share Your Advice

What’s your advice? Do you struggle with negative body image? What’s something we can do to help those struggling?