Why won’t my 13-year-old go out with­out make-up?

Thou­sands of young girls are hooked on YouTube tu­to­ri­als – but do cos­met­ics re­ally boost con­fi­dence, or is this a dam­ag­ing trend, asks Tanith Carey

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - FAMILY LIFE -

Sit­ting on a bed draped with fairy lights, 14-yearold Sophia Grace is shar­ing the se­crets of her school make-up rou­tine with her 3.1mil­lion YouTube fans. A few years ago, any­thing more than a sub­tle slick of lip balm would have been out of the ques­tion be­fore the start of the school day. But the Es­sex-born vlog­ger shows her young fol­low­ers how to ap­ply no fewer than 10 dif­fer­ent cos­met­ics to her per­fectly youth­ful and blem­ish-free face.

Dur­ing the 10-minute clip, this in­cludes primer, two gi­ant tri­an­gles of con­cealer to hide her sup­posed un­der­eye bags, as well as “con­tour­ing”.

Step by step, Sophia draws thick brown stripes over her face to show how it’s pos­si­ble to carve cheek­bones into her softly rounded checks, de­fine her jaw­line and slim her nose.

Af­ter blend­ing this with a sponge, Sophia goes on to ap­ply mas­cara, lip tint, loose pow­der and set­ting spray. She calls this her “nat­u­ral” look.

The teenager is just one of hun­dreds of young girls giv­ing make-up tu­to­ri­als on so­cial me­dia. In one tu­to­rial, a girl no older than six can be seen try­ing to draw cheek­bones on her chubby face with the same con­cen­tra­tion an­other child her age might use to fill in a colour­ing book.

As some par­ents point out – pre­sum­ably the ones who help their lit­tle ones up­load such videos – lit­tle girls have al­ways wanted to look more grown up. How­ever, ex­perts on girls’ body image point out that it’s not just that girls are ap­ply­ing make-up sooner than ever – the av­er­age age when girls start to use make-up is now 11, three years younger than it was a decade ago – it’s that they are wear­ing so much of it.

So what has changed?

One in­flu­ence is un­doubt­edly YouTube, where how-to make-up videos are among the most pop­u­lar clips. Im­pres­sion­able girls are shown how to re­draw ev­ery one of their fa­cial fea­tures and cover up ev­ery pore with primer, shad­ing and set­ting pow­ders.

Re­search shows that the knock-on ef­fect is that they soon start to be­lieve that they don’t look good enough with­out make-up. A sur­vey com­mis­sioned by Sim­ple found that more than half of 12 to 14-year-olds wear make-up most days – and 17 per cent refuse to leave the house with­out it.

One such girl is Ma­cie Baugh, who has just turned 13. Her mother, Gemma, 34, from Der­byshire, says: “The other day we thought she’d bro­ken her arm while she was hav­ing an arm-wrestling match with a friend. Be­fore she would go to the hos­pi­tal to get it X-rayed, Ma­cie in­sisted on putting on a full face of make-up first. Even though she was ap­ply­ing her make-up in tears, she didn’t want to turn up some­where where some­one might see her make-up free.”

Like Sophia, Ma­cie also has a school make-up rou­tine. She takes 45 min­utes to get ready – and of­ten comes home with more make-up than she started with, hav­ing ap­plied more in the school loos. Baugh says her daugh­ter then ap­plies an­other full face to go to the park with her friends.

Baugh, a stayat-home mother, is also full of ad­mi­ra­tion for her daugh­ter’s skill. “In the past year she’s learnt con­tour­ing. When I was her age I didn’t wear make-up, and would have looked like a clown if I’d tried, but Ma­cie’s re­ally good at it.”

It means that al­most all of her pocket money is spent on high-end cos­metic prod­ucts. Whether she needs to use them is an­other mat­ter. Baugh says: “Ma­cie has fan­tas­tic skin but she doesn’t be­lieve it. Even though she has no acne, she uses foun­da­tion to even out her skin tone and get rid of the rings un­der her eyes.

“She still doesn’t think she’s pretty, al­though I think she’s beau­ti­ful. But if she wants to get up early to put her make-up on and give her­self a bit of ar­mour, then that’s fine with me.”

But does wear­ing make-up re­ally im­prove girls’ con­fi­dence? Or is the deeper truth that it makes girls feel as if they are not good enough with­out it?

A 2013 sur­vey by the Ren­frew Cen­ter Foun­da­tion – a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion for pre­vent­ing eat­ing dis­or­ders – found that at least one in five girls be­tween eight and 18 had neg­a­tive feel­ings about their looks when they didn’t wear make-up. A fifth felt self-con- scious, and 17 per cent felt unattrac­tive. Fur­ther­more, it seems that de­vo­tion to full-face make-up may be stand­ing in the way of our daugh­ters liv­ing a healthy life­style.

A re­port for the Women’s Sport and Fit­ness Foun­da­tion into why teenage girls drop out of sport found that one rea­son was “they don’t want to get sweaty and ruin their make-up”.

Fem­i­nist make-up artist Katy An­ge­lidi, who runs a Face­book group called Beauty, Un­fil­tered, says that dur­ing her 22-year ca­reer she has seen a wor­ry­ing shift in the way that girls talk about their looks.

An­ge­lidi, 40, from Hert­ford­shire, a mother of two daugh­ters aged seven and two, says: “I hate to hear young girls talk­ing about how they can see their ‘dis­gust­ing pores’. Th­ese ‘flaws’ that girls talk about aren’t flaws at all – they are part of what it means to have skin. Skin is sup­posed to have vary­ing tones. Pores are there be­cause skin is por­ous. We are hu­man be­ings, not life-size In­sta­gram fil­ters, and we need to teach young women how to tell the dif­fer­ence.”

Ed­u­ca­tor Sue Palmer is the author of 21st Cen­tury Girls: How the Mod­ern World Is Dam­ag­ing Our Daugh­ters and What We Can Do About It. She sug­gests that in­stead of ac­cept­ing the claims that make-up makes girls feel more “con­fi­dent”, we need to ask why our young girls feel so bad about their looks in the first place.

“The ear­lier a girl be­comes hooked on make-up, the ear­lier she starts search­ing for an iden­tikit image, the more she is de­prived at a crit­i­cal age of de­vel­op­ing a fully rounded sense of her own iden­tity.”

Tanith Carey is the author of Girls Un­in­ter­rupted: Steps for Build­ing Stronger Girls in a Chal­leng­ing World, pub­lished by Icon, £7.99

FAC­ING THE WORLDA teenage girl putting on make-up, main, and left, Ma­cie Baugh, 13, who won’t leave the house with­out it

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