All You Need To See Is My Smile, Right, Mommy?

Tonight I am participating in an event called Blogapalooza for ChicagoNow.  We receive a topic at 9 pm CST and have until 10 pm CST to write and publish a post. 

Here is the topic:

"Write about something you learned or experienced since you woke up this morning."

I have decided to write about little girls and stage make-up.  Less than two weeks ago, my two youngest daughters participated in their first-ever Nutcracker on Ice.  Leading up to the event, I talked with many women who I respect about the controversial issue of little girls and make-up.

I am perfectly fine with my girls wearing stage makeup, because it is not about sexualizing them; it is about allowing the audience to see the expressions on their faces while they are performing.  I fully understand this and recognize the difference between make-up for the purpose of the stage (okay to me) and make-up that is solely used for the purpose of making very young girls feel  sexy (creepy to me).

Makeup kit in hand, I was willing to do the whole shebang on Thursday night for the dress rehearsal.  But then my wiggly 6-yr-old said to me, “Just a little lipstick!  I want to go play!”  I hesitated, remembering how she looked pale and washed out next to the other girls during the summer ice show last August.  Then I thought to myself, if she just wants lipstick, I certainly am not going to force her to wear more.

On Friday, before the matinee, my 6-yr-old suddenly expressed an interest in trying more makeup, because she had keenly noticed that all the other girls were wearing eye makeup the night before.  I pulled aside a trusted friend, L, who also has a 6-yr-old daughter -- an amazing little skater who has performed in shows for years – and asked for help.

L took out a colorful palette of easily washable eye shadows and asked my daughter to pick a shade.  To my surprise, my little girl chose electric blue.  L quickly and easily applied the makeup, reassuring my daughter that she could absolutely wash it right off if she didn't like it.  L did a great job, and my daughter grinned at herself in a little mirror.  I assumed that from now on, my little one would want the full effect for shows, so I asked my friend for some tips.

On Saturday afternoon, however, my daughter surprised me.  “You know, Mommy,” she said, “my face felt funny yesterday.  I don’t want to wear makeup.”  I always think it is best to let her be my guide, so I put away the makeup.  Then she looked worried and said, “But you said the reason people wear makeup on the stage is so the audience can see their faces and expressions.  What if you can’t see me?  I know, I’ll wear just the lipstick.  All you need to see is my smile, right, Mommy?"

Resolved, she wore just the lipstick for the Saturday matinee, the Saturday evening show and the Sunday matinee.  After the weekend, we were so busy with daily life that I didn’t really think about it again.

Today, a package arrived in the mail.  The skating portraits.

I opened the envelope, and there was my little girl.  She is very pale, with unadorned eyes and a wide lipstick smile.  Her hair has a crazy part in it because she wouldn't stand still when I was trying to comb it, and I didn't want to force her to sit while I redid it.  And as I looked at her sweet picture this afternoon, I experienced a sensation of joy.  Joy in knowing that she looked just right for her.  Joy that she will try new things and make informed choices about what is best for her.  Joy in her smile, which I can see from across the room.  That’s all I need to see.

AR skate

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