Make-up classes held for teenage girls as they feel pressure of social media, beauty bloggers

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February 10, 2019 08:30:50

With children as young as five becoming make-up prodigies on YouTube, girls are increasingly feeling the pressure to be glammed up at a younger age and it has prompted schools to offer workshops encouraging healthy attitudes toward cosmetics.

On the internet, five-year-old Charli Rose has 3,000 YouTube subscribers to her beauty blog, while celebrity Kim Kardashian received a backlash on social media for allowing her five-year-old daughter North West to wear red lipstick.

At Karoonda Area School east of Adelaide, school services officer Karen Norman said make-up classes were being held to guide teenage students, many of whom had started experimenting with cosmetics.

“Some girls may not realise they look good exactly how they are,” Ms Norman said.

Course organiser Larissa Jones said parents could not ignore the pressure their children felt to wear make-up and she thought it was better to coach them through it.

She has been touring South Australian schools for the past four years offering the classes to students from year eight onwards so students could talk about their insecurities.

About 30 schools have held the course.

“We’ve hit an era with YouTube just blowing up with beauty bloggers. It’s really important to speak to the young girls,” Ms Jones said.

“They don’t understand the damage it can do unless they are given healthy tools to be able to deal with what’s going on.

“[It’s about] helping them realise you’ve got the power to change how you feel about yourself on the inside.”

Ms Jones said she focused on counselling the girls so that they understood make-up enhanced their natural features and did not replace the importance of “inner-beauty” qualities like kindness.

Year 10 student Brooke Boughen from Karoonda Area School said she appreciated being able to talk to others about her insecurities.

“I felt really empowered … you come out feeling really good about yourself … that we are beautiful no matter what.”

Year eight student Abigail Porker, who lives almost two hours from the city, said the course was one of few opportunities to learn the skills.

“We just need it that one time to show us that we are beautiful and we can wear make-up if we want.”

Forcing teenagers to be different could isolate them, psychologist says

Many families have experienced the confusing and contentious discussion with their children about when it is okay to begin wearing make-up.

Child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr Gregg said parents should talk to their children from grade five or six about their family views on make-up.

However, he said there was no certain age when make-up would become safe for children to use; rather, it depended on maturity.

“Those sort of decisions should be based much more on their personality, their temperament, their past behaviour, their levels of emotional and intellectual ability,” Dr Carr Gregg said.

“The trend toward make-up is becoming younger and younger. Where it disturbs me is where you blur the line between what’s a child and what’s a young woman.

“I think [that line] is being crossed … it goes into the whole area of early sexualisation of young people, which I think is undesirable.”

Because of social media and peer pressure, Dr Carr Gregg also advised parents not to ban teenagers from wearing make-up at an age when people in their social circles were wearing cosmetics.

He said it could isolate the children if they were forced to be different from their peers.

“I think that’s problematic and I would advise parents to reconsider their position.

“If you ask me, I think it’s a relatively minor issue. My main message to parents is to choose your battleground, not your make-up.”

Photographer Amy Hermann, who is a positive body image campaigner, said she had grown to accept that she did not need to rely on make-up, but she was worried her children would be faced with different pressures.

She said was often torn about whether to allow her six-year-old to try make-up when her daughter saw her getting ready.

“I don’t want it to become something she becomes reliant on,” Mrs Hermann said.

“When we talk about make-up, I say, ‘Mum is doing it just for fun’. I don’t say, ‘This is going to make me look pretty’.”

While she does not want her daughter to feel left out, Mrs Hermann said she also wanted them to feel confident in being unique.

“My hope is that I can speak to my daughters and they can be themselves and not fall victim to the peer pressure.

“But it’s just such a different time, social media puts such a massive pressure on kids and it terrifies me.”

Mrs Hermann said she was initially unsure about the idea of a make-up course at school, but if it emphasised to the students they did not need to change their features, it could be a good idea.

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