Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Debate About Makeup For Tweens

When the news broke about Geogirl, a new Walmart makeup line for girls eight to twelve years of age, beyond the heated debate about the appropriateness of cosmetics at an age range considered young by most, I was thrusted into my past as a young girl growing up in Africa.

Most African babies' experience with makeup begins when they are just a few days old. Mothers will bathed their babies and regardless of their gender, they would line their bottom eyelids with hand mashed kohl liner. The practice will go on until the baby starts walking. For baby boys, generally that is the end of it but for girls, persistent mothers will continue embellishing their eyes on a daily basis. For the wide majority of mothers, the practice will become only occasional.

The girls will be re-introduced to eyeliners and even subtle lipstick for some, right around twelve or thirteen. For most of them in today's date, this is a rehearsal for their life as women. In more traditional communities, mothers train their daughter to make themselves up to attract the attention of prospective husbands.

Makeup for young girls is not considered outrageous for tweens in Africa unless it is shockingly colorful. Traditional African makeup is characterised by its subtlety.

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