Girls Growing Up: Where Do You Draw the Line?

my beautiful girls

I have three girls. Three. So you can understand my concern about society’s push to sexualise girls early. Last week I talked about Beauty Pageants and the danger of self-objectification incresingly becoming the focus of self-esteem in young children because of all sexualisation our society feeds on. 

From using babies as billboards for sexual jokes in the form of slogan t-shirts to padded bras for young girls, it’s a hard path to wade through as a parent!  For me, it’s about minimising the external pressure from society and surrounding my girls with good examples of female beauty and the truth (even if it’s a chiché) that it’s the “beauty on the inside that counts”.

There is another point I want to raise here: Where do you draw the line on self-esteen and allowing girls to be girly, and pushing them to grow up too fast?

Where Do You Draw the Line?

The ACA Story on Universal Royalty Pageant Coming to Australia 2011, features a short segment with Kristin Kyle who heads up Kids in Australia.  In the video, Kristin admits getting her daughter’s eyebrows waxed.  Now, I rarely (if ever) trust everything I see on the media so I thought I’d ask Kristin about it. Just a word here:  Kristin, who supports the Beauty Pageants, and I obviously share very different opinions on the matter but I DID NOT  want to get on the slamming train (and believe me, there is one) so instead, I decided to ask her about it. Kristin  responded to me very openly and honestly. 

Despite the video clip insinuating the waxing was done for aesthetic purposes, the fact is Kristin’s her daughter was bullied for a hairy mono-brow and since she began schooling, was often bullied. Hence, the waxing.

This got me thinking. You know, I may have done the same thing. Similarly if my child had a serious birth mark or other feature that may make them feel uncomfortable and hamper their self-esteem.

But then…where DO you draw the line? Ears? Nose? Moles? What?

I’ve always hated the mole on my face. Hated it. And you know, recently, I investigated having the mole removed…even went to the doctor. But when it came it it, I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t do it becuase the mark on my face has become part of me…of who I am. I still don’t like it, but neither do I want to get rid of it. It’s a very strange thing. Part of the reason for this is my Dad has a mole, in the exact place I do, and my daughter does too. How could I get rid of something so generational? It’s allmost cool! {almost}. Even though I don’t like my beauty spot, I love it on my daughter and would never want her to have it removed. Who better show her how to embrace who she is than me? 

family generation traits

Back to the question: Where DO you draw the line?   

Kristin believes waxing her daughter’s mono-brow is the right thing. Who is going to blame her for that? Not me. I can totally see her perspective on that issue.

Cath SquiggleMum admits to using concealer on her daughter’s bruised eye for a school photograph. Cath was comfortable using a little powder for the day but would draw the line at using photoshop to remove “blemishes”.

Amber from Because Babies Grow Up paints her daughter’s toes as an rainy day activity. Is this sending the wrong message to a young girl? You know — I don’t think so. I do the same.

Naomi from Seven Cherubs allows her girls to play with make-up but wants to keep them natural looking for as long as possible.  She asks this question: At what age should girls start wearing make-up out? It’s a good question.

So where do you draw the line? And there is a line. I would say tanning children, false teeth and hair extentsions and the need for a children’s plastic surgery book called My Beautiful Mommy {it’s true} are over it.  However, there is a lot of grey areas too.

Finding my line

I want to minimise the influence society places on my girls to grow up before their time — but it’s really hard work!  I guess it starts with my example and not transferring any of my own self-esteem issues on to my girls and teaching them what real beauty is all about. Then protecting them, allowing them to develop their own sense of style in their own time and letting them to feel girly without the pressure of adult concepts.

I’m still finding my line…and it often changes. However, there are some lines I will never cross.

Where do you draw the line? Are you worried about your girls growing up too fast?

Be A Fun Mum

Beauty Pageants: Wrong or Fun?

External Links

Self-image vs Sexialised image

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  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

    My girls love doing nails and makeup, but for them it is like dressups. Big girl has asked to wear makeup to school and accepted that it’s not part of the uniform.

    I’m very glad we live where we do, it’s very easy to control what they see and it’s just not part of the culture in their part of the school. Secondary is another matter.

    The hardest part is that big girl is stunning and regularly gets told by people how beautiful she is. Which is lovely, but not the message I’m after. I always try to emphasise how they feel, because if you feel beautiful you look beautiful. So if they ask me how they look, I ask them how they feel.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      April 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Deb, reading that gave me goosebumps! Especially that last line. Thank you for sharing.

      We used to live out in the country and I loved the fact there weren’t any billboards etc to content with. We are back in the city now and I often cringe at all the advertising…I miss the country life in that way! I get my girls to look away…and they respect that.

      Sounds like you have a beautiful balance.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I love your story as in May i am going to become a mother of my third daughter and i only have girls, and i have asked myself and many others the same thing “Where do you draw the line?”

    I have painted my girls (Miss 3 and Miss 2) fingers and toe nails, why cause their nanna had hers done and they wanted to be the same. because it is fun. On the odd occasion when i do put on make up the girls are in the bathroom with me and wanting some, so i get my blush brush and brush it over their face. Now there is barely any colour on it but they love it. When i put lipstick on they want it and i give it to them, but by the time we get to the door they have licked it off…. Miss 3 has princess shoes, little heals and she thinks she is the coolest, but they are her dress up shoes.

    While the girls are at home i try not to worry to much about these outside influences, but i worry when they leave to go to school of some sort. It is a mine field out there. My cousin has two daughters and the oldest is in grade 1 now and girls are already saying that this brand of clothes is cool and that if you don’t have this then you aren’t cool… We are talking about 6 year olds….

    I think all we can do, is like you said control (to the best of our ability) the outside influence.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      April 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Congratulations Charise on #3 coming soon! That’s exciting!

      I do the same thing with make up brushes and the girls have high heel dress ups too.

      I agree with you: it is a worry when the outside influences start to trickle in! It’s hard…

      • Reply
        April 8, 2011 at 9:45 am

        @Kelly Be A Fun Mum, This is where I worry. We can do as much as possible as parents to ensure that they are allowed to grow up in their own time, but the outside influences are EVERYWHERE.
        I just try to keep lines of communication open with my girls, and be honest with them and hope that I have taught them enough that when the time comes for them to make a decision outside my control that they make the appropriate one.
        I keep telling them to believe in themselves. My God I hope it’s enough. I’m sure I’ll never stop worrying if I’ve done enough.

        • Reply
          Kelly B
          April 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

          Yep, I worry too.

          Sounds like you are doing such a good job Kirsten and I 100% agree that keeping the communication lines open is vital. xx

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Great post Kell! I may not have any little girls but I know what you are talking about. Even now as an adult I still am ‘finding the line’. To the point where I ask God if he is happy with what I am wearing etc. I believe the ‘line’ is different for every person depending on their life’s walk. We are all on a journey and I am happy to see you holding your girls’ hands as they walk.

    Love Nicole <3

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      April 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      That’s a good point Nicole…about finding the line as an adult too. Personally, I LOVE dressing up and using make up. I derive a lot of pleasure from clothes and make up…but I don’t want it to become the focus of what I do…or send the wrong message to the girls. The verse comes to mind: “God doesn’t see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7 I hold to that.

      It’s true the line is different for each person and we must respect that…. There are black and white issues but there are also a lot of grey…


  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I have a 14yo boy who was/is teased mercilessly about his monobro and has been since he was seven. I started waxing it for him when he was 10/11 and it was the best thing to do for his self esteem. I will always, as a mother, do what I consider to be the best thing for my children, whether others like it or not.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      April 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      Liz, good on you! And I think I would do the same thing… if my son has the same issues…

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Great post again! Thanks for putting so much thought into the girls. X

  • Reply
    Michelle Dennis Evans
    April 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    At this point in time – I’m happy with how my girls are going.
    They are allowed to play with make up but only they only ever wear lip gloss or lip balm out of the house.
    We all draw the line in a different spot tho – and that’s ok.
    I would have left the bruise there … for a great laughing memory.. there are 12-14 yearly photos – why not have a good laugh over one. (nasty mummy hehehe)
    i think its more important to build our children up than let them feel badly about themselves because of something someone says about them. In everything we do – are we telling our children to fix the way they look to be more acceptable or that they are perfect in every way – just they way they were created?
    I was teased from a very young age about being fat – my mother told me to lose weight (fix the problem) I struggled with eating disorders for nearly 20 years.
    I believe we need to look at uniqueness and celebrate it – rather than letting magazines, tv, or Holywood dictate the meaning of beauty – or acceptable looks.
    I could go on… perhaps I should blog about this too…

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      April 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      Please do Michelle. And when you do, let me knwo and I’ll add a link to this post.


  • Reply
    Collett from The T(w)een Factor
    April 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Girls (and boys) will always go through a phase of dressing up and emulating their parents or caregivers activities and mannerisms. It is very much a part of child development and identity formation.

    Painting nails and trying on mum’s make-up is a world away from actually actively entering the world of beauty pageants, where this is all about outward appearances and ‘beauty’. Pageants have nothing to do with trial of roles. Well actually, the only ‘role’ played there is the one that pits girls against each other at an early age and teaches them that being most beautiful and having the best dress is what makes one popular (a winner).

    Girls leave pageants having failed or being second best to ‘the winner’ but unlike sport or craft, they can never go and work on honing a skill and getting better at something. There is nothing much you can do if you are considered ‘not pretty enough’. Girls go away feeling worthless. Parent’s messages to these children by simply entering them = It is beauty that counts.

    I am left feeling a little frustrated with ‘Kids in Australia’ in that they are a site for parents and kids health in general (they even have a body image section) but I can not see this pageant idea as aligning with any of that at all. It nullifies some of the things they say they stand for on their site.

    I completely understand the eyebrow issue with children and how being teased can be harmful to self-worth, but then equally harmful is bringing pageants to Australia and creating self-worth issues for little girls on a bigger scale.

    Unfortunately I just don’t see any benefit to childhood at all!

    p.s Like Kelly, I have a mole in exactly the same place 😉

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      April 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      I’ve {almost} got to the point of loving my mole…what about you?

  • Reply
    Mummy's dress
    April 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I have two girls… we have beauty salon days at home…. where we doing hair conditioning treatments, manicures, pedicures etc. I think it’s a great way for them to feel pampered and learn to look after themselves.
    The girls wear make up for their dance comps and I hate putting it on and feel the make up actually makes them look not so pretty… but to compete they need to wear it.
    Beauty pagents… not my thing!

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      April 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      My daughter did ballet for a little while and we used lipstick for the concert (on her cheeks and lips).

      And beauty salon days…I haven’t really done that with my girls but I’m sure they’d love it. Thank’s for the idea!

      • Reply
        February 18, 2015 at 12:44 am

        I’m impressed! You’ve managed the almost impossible.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    This is a constant conundrum for me, and it’s only going to get worse as my kids grow older. I remember being teased because I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs towards the end of primary school, when every one else did it. My daughter, 8, loves to play at putting on make-up and she’s been given so many kiddy make-up kits as presents, it’s difficult to stop her. So we do it as a dress-up event. She loves to have girl nights sometimes, where she soaks in a bath tub, puts cucumbers on the eyes, deeply conditions her hair then does her nails.
    I hope that’s not going to far.
    We had our first fight recently (over clothes etc), when she threw a tantie because she didn’t have any shoes with heels to wear to a book launch. I think her feet are still too little for heels though – right?

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      April 8, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      My sister has just had the same issue with her daughter (in grade 7). I started shaving my legs in grade 8 (and so did my sister) but she let her daughter shave them this year for the reasons you mentioned.

      I think the spa bath is a very cute idea!

      My Miss 8 daugther has small heels (like 1.5cm) that she wore to a wedding. Sometimes she likes to wear them when we go to the shop. If we are not out for a long time, I think it’s fine…but yeah, I worry a little about her feet growing too. I actually encourage my kids to go barefoot as much is safely possible.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I agree that the key is to model for our children what real beauty is all about. And you are right, there are so many grey areas (like when your child has a shiner of a black eye!)

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      April 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      Yep, there are many exceptions aren’t there Cath…

  • Reply
    Hear Mum Roar
    April 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    You’re so right. It is a fine line. I would get a developing girl a slightly padded bra (not really padded, you know that fabric used in most t shirt bras? more like quilting, or wetsuit fabric type thickness), because they don’t add extra size, but help to smooth down nipples (and when they’re developing, they often stick out more and it can be a bit scary for a really young girl to be suddenly started at like that), and is a more modest look.

    Make up, yeah, I”m ok with anyone in the family experimenting with it, except no one is interested. I think makeup can be not just a sexualisation thing, but also a form of self-expression, experimentation, in some cases, even art!

    I’m similar with the eyebrow waxing. If my daughter had a mono brow and was feeling self conscious about it, I’d let her get a wax if she wanted to (in a case like that, I view it as tidying up, really). If they were being teased and didn’t care, then I wouldn’t.

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      April 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      Yes, that’s a good point Sharon. I think that would be more comfortable to have slight lining.

      And my eldest daughter is 10 and not remotely interested in even trying makeup but my almost 8 year old loves playing with it at home… I’m fine with that…

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    My daughter is 14 so we have been through lots of this stuff! Last year I blogged about a very sexy dress she bought … and which we promptly made her return to the store as it was completely inappropriate. (Read about it at http://footprintsaustralia.com/blog/2010/07/11/fashion-wars/). Such mean parents we are!

    Her fave clothing in summer was a little tank top and a pair of little shorts, which looked perfectly acceptable until she started developing. Then we had to take her aside and explain that she needed to cover up a bit better if she was leaving the house in particular, no matter how hot the weather.

    She is a beautiful girl (I know I’m biased, but seriously she is!) and it could easily lead to problems if we’re not careful. My husband and I have noticed men of all ages ogling her lustfully even when she is clothed modestly. We glare at them and at this rate it is only a matter of time before hubby decks one of them I think!

    We often take her best friend with us to church, and while we can make sure Julia dresses appropriately, unfortunately there is not much we can do about her friend … cheeky shorts, skimpy tops etc … we’re just glad she’s in church!!!

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      April 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      Oh man Janet. I can just see this sort of thing happening in the years to come with my girls… I’m going to add a link to that post. Thanks Janet. Appreciate your wisdom.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Kelly, loved this article..yet made me a little jealous as I have 2 boys 😉

    When I paint my nails, my boys want some too – in blue – and I’m happy to oblige.

    PS: Your daughter is stunning!

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      April 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      My son has his toes painted sometimes too…LOL it seems so normal to me: that he wants to paint his toenails when he sees his sisters do it… Anything that’s messy and bright right?

      • Reply
        April 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm

        My son used to like getting his toenails painted too! In fact even now he is nearly 17 and his sister is 14, I still give them pedicures as a treat (minus the nail polish for him though) … sneaky way to get rid of the teenage sock smell as well as express love to them LOL!

  • Reply
    Drawing the line. | Six Degrees Of Laura
    November 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

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