It was the first week of freshman year in high school when I decided to wear makeup for the very first time. I returned home after school that day, only to be greeted by my not-so-happy Latina cop mother. She did her famous double take and sent me off to wash my face. Can you say old school or was she right?
These days, as a Beauty Assistant who is obsessed with lipsticks as much as everyone else, there are times when I thank her for that moment. Which brings me to a recent experience with my 7 and 8-year-old nieces. Recently, I found the girls playing with my makeup, feeling genuinely fabulous at that. They looked like two little pros, filling in their eyebrows and askng me questions like, which lipstick goes best with with so and so eyeshadow. They even knew all the terminology, like contouring cheeks and blending.
A part of me felt indifferent, since some days as I scroll through Instagram (because yes, social media has played a huge role in how young girls are influenced when it comes to beauty and makeup), I come across very young girls looking like pageant queens. While the game of dress up has been around forever, this sense of being 100% done up, with everything from contour to highlight, hasn't always been the norm. And as I observed my nieces in their glory, a loaded question came to mind: What age should a young girl start wearing makeup?
We asked a handful of Latinas their thoughts on this, here's what they had to say:
Jackie, 30, Teacher and Mother
“I started wearing makeup when I was in college to get my now husband’s attention. I believe a respectable age for a young lady to start wearing makeup is around 15.”
Nora, 40, Law Enforcement and Mother
"In Puerto Rican culture, many girls celebrate their quinceañera as a coming out to womanhood party. It is appropriate for her to have a full face of makeup during this ceremony."
Ana, 19, Beauty Blogger
“Since my mother was a beautician, I saw her dolled up at all times. Which is why I felt I started off as early as 13 wearing concealer. It was more of a fun feeling to cover up my puberty zits, which I believe is something every girl can relate to."
Lissette, 25, Makeup Artist
"I feel high school is a great space for a girl to start with basic makeup, meaning foundation and lip gloss."
Alma, 60, Grandmother
"If girls start too young they will never learn to love their natural beauty."
Lucy, 23, Social Worker
“I don’t think there’s a right age in today’s space for a girl to start wearing makeup. Being Brazilian, my aunts encouraged me since diapers to wear red lipstick and mascara.”
My final thoughts: Makeup should be used to enhance your natural beauty, not cover it up. We should force these young women to look within before reaching for the brush. We Latinas are known for our natural beauty and should empower our nenas to remember to stay true to themselves — not their selfie.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!