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Makeup at Thirteen?

Makeup at Thirteen?


Dear Rachel,

I am the mother of a beautiful thirteen-year-old girl who always seemed to be quite confident and happy with herself. Recently, however, she has been spending so much time worried about her clothes and how she looks. I realize this is a normal part of being a teenager, but she seems to be going a bit overboard. Now she is trying to go out all the time now wearing makeup. Her father and I feel she is way too young to be wearing eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick and want her to wait until she is fifteen before wearing makeup. Are we being too overprotective or is she too young to wear makeup?


Los Angeles, CA

Dear L.J.,

Her motivation is what should be really looked intoAs a mother of a preteen myself, I can definitely commiserate that young girls seem to be growing up at a much faster rate than we did at the same age. The same way that fifty seems to be the new thirty, so too, unfortunately, all too often thirteen seems to be the new sixteen. So where do we draw the line between freedom and restriction as our daughters develop into young women?

The challenge is one that is constant and that will involve many different aspects of her life. Regarding wearing makeup, I do not necessarily know if there is an exact age where one can say that it is suddenly appropriate. Like many things our kids do, we decide on a case by case basis what is appropriate and when, based on our child.

I think the important thing to keep in mind here is why she wants to wear makeup. Her motivation is what should be really looked into. Is she doing this because all of her friends are and she wants to fit in? Are the other girls her age also wearing makeup to school? Is she doing this to fit in, to be popular? Or is she the one starting the trend? Is she feeling insecure about how she looks? Is she giving into peer pressure? Is she trying to be attractive or does she want to come across as older than she is?

The answers to probably all of these questions will be based on her social circle—who her friends are and who she is spending her time with. These are the girls she confides in and shares with, and are the ones who are going to have the biggest influence in her life and decisions. If you can trust her friends and feel that they have their heads on straight, then it will help to trust the direction your daughter is heading in as well. And if you can't trust her friends or don't like how they behave and act, then you really have a much larger issue than her makeup to deal with. If her friends are a bad influences, then the makeup is merely a symptom, it is not the real problem.

Have you tried speaking to the mothers of her friends? Do they feel makeup is appropriate? It will be a lot easier if you choose to not allow her to wear any makeup if her friends are also being told that it is not allowed. Make an effort to have her friends at your home. Invite her and her friends to a trip to the mall or a lunch. Spend time with them and try to create a feeling of open communication so that your daughter and her friends will feel they can speak and share with you as well.

Now is also a good time to examine your relationship with your looksAnd speak to your daughter about the importance of loving herself and recognizing that her true beauty comes from within and is not painted on the outside. Make the effort to tell her how much you love her and how attractive she is, while also complimenting her many talents and abilities that have nothing to do with her looks. At the same time, recognize how important looks are at this age (and in many ways from this age on) and take her shopping and let her get something that she loves (and that you approve) that makes her feel good about herself.

Now is also a good time to examine your relationship with your looks. If you complain to her about how bad you look without makeup or how you are unhappy with your physical appearance, you might be reinforcing her fear that without makeup she is ugly or that she needs makeup to look attractive. I am not saying there is anything wrong with an adult wearing makeup, but I do feel that we need to be aware of how our daughters learn from what they see. If we constantly talk about needing to lose weight, dieting, makeup, etc. then we can't be surprised when our daughters start speaking the same way. We owe it to them and to ourselves to recognize that while looking attractive is important, we are not defined or limited to our looks.

Regarding the makeup itself, see if you can work with her by either limiting the amount she is allowed to put on or the colors you will allow her to wear. And try to get her to understand that makeup is for special occasions and not for everyday. Maybe let her get some great lip gloss or light makeup if she wants to wear some to school and then for an evening event, allow her to wear a little more. The more you can find compromise, the easier things will be with her.

Another point and area I would work on is changing or at least expanding her influences. It is so unfortunate how young girls today have their role models be the Hollywood starts who are often suffering themselves from eating disorders, drug addiction and a variety of other ailments. The more you can find compromise, the easier things will be with herEncourage your daughter to discover her beauty and power as a young Jewish woman and try to introduce wonderful role models into her life, including great women from her past. The more women she can identify with and be affected by in a positive way, the less she will look to negative role models to emulate.

Judaism teaches that true beauty emanates from within. And the Jewish woman is the crown, the concept of true royalty. I hope your daughter is able to learn and recognize her value as a person, and not just as a pretty face. And I wish you much luck in imparting this lesson and dealing with these growing pains!


"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Nana-Lee May 19, 2015

Don't put too much importance on looks @ this age
as your daughter seemes to...........
she takes after you! Reply

Magdalena Nyköping, Jönåker April 27, 2012

Not good with make-up! Study's show that people who start with make-up in a young age, has a higher risk of getting allergies, because the body react badly on the products. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 1, 2011

Makeup at 13 Makeup for teens is available in stores. Reply

Sarah W Bloomfield, MI/USA November 11, 2009

For those sending their girls to public schools:

When I was in seventh grade, the girls would put on makeup during homeroom. I didn't 'cause Mom didn't allow it. I didn't realise the girls were washing off the makeup before going home 'cause their moms also said no! I was a good (and naive) girl.

Point is, if you allow just a bit, well applied, but also let her see the reluctance, she will see you are working to compromise. She will learn she is respected. (And when respect is given, it comes back to you.) She will also learn to compromise. Those lessons are bigger than the makeup.

To J'ville FL: If girls babysit, they have money, so Moms and Dads do not control this. Reply

Mr. faith lupe quintana October 13, 2009

Girls grow up to fast Im a youth worker, and girls are influenced by those around them especially in the school setting. At my grand daughters school I noticed she would start trying on lipstick and other makeups. Till we had to show her how to use it. Not fight against her wishes. she would still go back to wanting to wear so we let her at 13. but very light ly.I didnt like it her dad didnt like it. but she still would sneek around to trying it at school.she has always been independant and she proved to us she was able to mange not over doing it. Now she is 16 studying to drive. she will have lessons there. She is more mature then we wanted to think of her. N is proving she is responsible. The choices are influenced by friends and we are also here to redirect wrong thoughts. thank you a caring grandmother and 30 teen care giver. Reply

Samantha San Antonio, TX October 8, 2009

There are also positive images out there today, which you can help you teach her that every woman/girl is beautiful in their own way.
Dove has this massive campaign going-and it's wonderful.
Also - Girl Scouts are really on top of it when it comes to the image factor. On each level (Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior), there are opportunites to reinforce the positive message. Reply

Anonymous Jacksonville, FL October 8, 2009

Holly wood – or mommies competition? Sometimes the problem with “tweens” isn’t Hollywood, but the mothers! My DD has allergies, and when she eats something that triggers sensitivity, she gets red cheeks; this makes her look like she has make-on. She has a friend whose mother started putting blush on her at age 10, because her DD is too pale, and that she needs make up to perk-up her looks! We live in different cities now, but the girls keep in touch. Last week when they spoke on the phone, my DD share that her friend though Yom Kippur was really difficult because she couldn’t wear make-up. My DD now 16, and was teased so much about her rosy cheeks that the only make-up she occasionally wears is lip gloss – and only if she has dry lips. Her friend who is only 14 is obsessed with really high heels, pocketbooks, fashionable clothes (thank-goodness they insist on modesty – but that can be stretched) and of course make-up. Hollywood’s fault ? I don’t think so, parents purchase (or give $$ to purchase) all these things! Reply

Anonymous brooklyn October 7, 2009

makeup and teens as a mom as well as a teacher of teens, the best approach was to take them to a makeup consultant; a mall was preferable; we make it a class trip and the make up artists whose job is to sell, knew before we came that we want to limit the makeup while bringing out the inner beauty; we also teach the girls how important their skin is and how it is a living breathing organ and how it needs to be taken care of; once the make up artist worked with them to cleanse their faces.... lets say the girls weren't too interested in applying so much gunk to their faces; we also conduct a models visit together with a fashion show so that the girls learn how to buy clothing that is attractive to their figures; we have a few fashion models who come and speak to the girls about fashion and what its all about....neshei chabad knows of a former model who has bec. shomeret shabos. Reply