Spending the weekend at my sister’s house usually means I have an audience for when I’m putting on my makeup: my four and six year old nieces. They are the best audience members to have, truly curious and engaged in the subject matter, wondering about every little detail and not afraid to ask. Their father now blames me for their intense interest in lipstick, which I think is nonsense because I rarely wear lipstick on weekends I spend with my family.
This past weekend, my four year old niece was particularly curious about why I was tweezing my eyebrows. After giving careful instructions to her about eyebrow tweezing being ONLY for adults, kids should never try it on their own (which hopefully she sees more as a cautionary warning than a challenge), her questions had me thinking.
“Does it hurt?” Yes, actually. Yes it does. “Then why are you doing that?” Uhhh…
Uncertain of how to explain why I need to painfully pull hair from my sensitive eye area in a way that does not impact her idea of what she “needs” to look like to be beautiful by societal standards, I realized there was no real answer I could give her. Explaining the reason behind the things we do for ‘beauty’ to children is a tricky task.
Very tricky because the answers mainly seem to be based in keeping up with societal standards of beauty, to which we are so influenced that we begin to internalize these ideas of beauty to the point they become a preference, what become our own individual ideals of beauty. Because when I began to think about it, the only reasoning I came up with as to why I remove hair from my eyebrows is because I like the way it looks. I hate the way stray hairs look and the way they somehow make me feel unkempt.
Why do we regularly pay money for the pain of having our hair ripped or threaded or plucked from our faces?
My four year old niece’s guess is as good as mine.