When our daughter was first able to read the words ‘Beauty’ department at our local stores, I had some uncomfortable explaining to do. My conversation went a little something like, “Some people don’t see how lovely they are and advertisers use this to sell products”. I didn’t want our kids thinking that beauty came from bottles and jars. Our healthy view on “beauty” comes from many uncomfortable (for me) make-up and hair conversations – uncomfortable as in, why do I even need to have this conversation?

At 8 years old, our daughter was already aware of marketing and regularly noticed ridiculous, gender specific and sexist campaigns. The silliest and most appalling advertisements to her were the Abercrombie & Fitch window ads. She noticed, “If Abercrombie is trying to sell clothes, why don’t they have any on? That’s stupid”.

I am a former make-up artist and I do wear a small amount of make-up. My daughter and husband would become annoyed at how long it took me to do make-up and hair which led to both of them teasing me about doing my “Beauty”. BTW: we agreed to stop teasing anyone for taking care of their skin, body and hair. My mate is an engineer and finds the make-up /hair process to be highly inefficient, and questions the need for make-up and hair messing at all. He also questions my ability to schedule such extravagances. If I’m hustling, I can do hair and make-up in under 2 minutes, but I often wait until the last minute to get ready, which really bugs the rest of the family that is quickly ready and waiting by the door.

Caring for oneself is healthy and beneficial. We agreed to stop referring to hair and skin as products of ‘Beauty’ and instead use terms like skin health and hair health. Though skin health is not very catchy phrase, it has helped me reevaluate my hair and skin goals. If beauty is my goal, I will forever chase some new standard or style and I will never be happy. If my goal is skin health, well then, I’m probably doing great if I moisturize and hydrate. If I feel like my skin or hair looks a bit off, I don’t immediately reach for a jar of product – instead I evaluate my sleep, exercise, mood, diet, hydration, alcohol consumption and sunblock usage.

These days, I prefer easier hairstyles that are lower maintenance because I want to be living life not constantly staring at myself in a mirror. I no longer keep everyone waiting while I finish hair or make-up – I do it early or not at all. I also wear much less make-up – some days nothing at all or only foundation for sun protection. My daughter thinks I look better without make-up. My husband thinks I look beautiful even covered in mud, so why not make it easier for myself?

This is going to be an ongoing conversation as the kids move from tween to teen to adult. Our main message to them is seek health and happiness. If our kids choose to look like an image in a fashion magazine, I hope they do so understanding that their ‘image’ is a tool with which to achieve personal goals, hopefully goals of health and happiness.

xo – Bar

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