Saturday, 8 September 2012

make-up and girly-girls and tom-boys

September 7, 2012

(Yes, this is a bit of a rabbit trail.  But maybe not so much as it sounds).

Yesterday on facebook there was a discussion by some young women about allowing 2 year olds to wear nail polish ... especially little girly-girls who love all things frilly and pretty.

And while these young women came to the conclusion that it was pretty much just a "cute" thing, and probably okay, they weren't (generally) so sure about letting young girls, even girls in their early teens, wear make-up in attempts to make themselves look like ... adult women? or something worse?

It seems that a certain mom of some of them (who shall remain unnamed, ahem) had not taught them about wearing make-up - or anything girly for that matter - even in their teens.  Which apparently had caused some of them to become tom-boys or some such.

Anyway, I had to laugh.  Sort of.  Because how was this mom supposed to teach her daughters what she'd never been taught?  See, this mom had a couple problems.  For one, in her own teen years the "hippies ruled the earth," and looking natural was cool.  Second, and probably more to the point, she had been brought up in a social group (aka church/ denomination) that frowned deeply upon make-up as a mortal sin, in the same general category as smoking, drinking, going to the movies, playing cards, swimming on Sundays, wearing skirt lengths above one's knees, and missing church services for any reason other than being deathly ill.  (It was no doubt a fortunate crossing of fates that one could, at that point in societal history, be both hippy cool, and religiously square, at least in the make-up department, at the same time).

Deeply seared into this mom's memory is an incident which happened in her 14th year.  In a moment of foolish rebellion, she had tremblingly dabbed the tiniest bit of blue eyeshadow in the crease of her eyelid.  And worse, she had dared to wear it to church.  Walking into the foyer, she was accosted by a "sister" who no doubt considered herself the keeper of young women's morals (she was also the women's matron at the local jail).  Marching up to the rebellious youngster, this noble woman grabbed her by the elbow and dragged her downstairs to the ladies room.  There she proceeded to treat the girl to a protracted and loud speech about the evils of make-up, and how by wearing it, she was turning herself into a hussy, and was on a one-way road to ending up on the streets, and ultimately in jail with the prostitutes with whom this matron regularly dealt.  When the terrified young rebel showed sufficient sign of repentance, weeping many tears, she was allowed to go to the sanctuary and join the rest of the congregation.

At any rate, this mom has never done very well with make-up, or even nail-polish.  She actually dabbled with it for a time when her children were young, and the family desperately needed extra income.  No, she wasn't trying to attract men!  She had become an AVON representative, and her supervisor had suggested she should be "modeling" the product line.  But every time this mom put the make-up and/or nail-polish on, and looked in the mirror, what she saw peering back at her was the "burned out jack-o'-lantern" she'd been warned about over and over in her growing up years, via an LP record for "Christian teens."  (The same record had also informed her that she'd "smell like a Camel" if she smoked, among a number of other similar dire warnings). 

Thus she seems to have grown up rather tom-boyish herself, disdainful (and perhaps a little fearful) of "prissiness," and has unwittingly passed on her lack of feminine skills to her daughters.  She simply does not know how to be "girly" herself.  And, I suspect, she might not have become very girly even if she had been taught how, seeing as she's always been rather tom-boyish at heart.  Witness the fact that, well after reaching a half-century of maturity, she's still happily jumping off bridges into rivers and engaging in other rather unwomanly activities.

It also does seem that somehow her daughters, despite their unfortunate lack of training, have, somewhere along the line, learned to apply makeup in a most attractive manner - and the fact that they are naturally beautiful girls doesn't hurt!  Perhaps they need to give their dear old mom some lessons.  If she can get over her fear.  And her natural tom-boyishness.  You think?

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