With the introduction of Walmart's 'tween line of makeup, it brings up an age-old generational argument between parents and kids. But this time, the kids are much younger than in previous years. The new line called Geo Girl is (funny enough) a selection of anti-aging cosmetics that are being promoted to the 'tween set — girls aged 8-12 years old.

The new line features mascara, blusher, lipstick, face shimmer, and even an exfoliator. Walmart contends the products are meant to be a healthier choice for parents who have young girls begging to wear makeup. The products are said to contain only natural ingredients, are chemical free, and even contain antioxidants meant to prevent premature aging!

Making the Battle Harder

Parents used to be able to use the excuse that makeup was meant for adults. Now, the argument becomes that much more difficult when there are products on the shelf clearly meant for the younger set. With 'tween toys promoting more and more grown up ways (think Bratz dolls), the battle for the makeup appears to be in the favor of the child.

There has been much controversy over the beauty pageant babes dressed to the hilt in evening wear and pancake makeup. Kids as young as three are featured on television's reality shows all glammed up with every kind of cosmetic possible, including fake teeth and false eyelashes. Pageant parents tend to be a defensive bunch and are quick to brush off accusations of maturing their little girls way before their time.

Facing the Real Issues

What the issue really comes down to is parental control. Though retailers like Walmart are making a parents call that much harder, it still comes down to the handling of the issues at hand. Most 'tweens want to wear makeup to keep up with their peers and emulate the adults in their life. At this stage, interest in adult products is relatively harmless because it's still in a phase of pretending. Dressing up has forever been a part of a little girl's playing process. Putting on high heels and mom's makeup usually brings laughs from the family.

But now that products marketed specifically to these younger children, it seems play time is over.

Once the dressing up phase has ended and 8- and 9-year-olds start becoming more self-aware of their bodies and the peer pressure they face, wearing makeup no longer is a game of pretend. There seems to be a forward movement to grow up our girls long before they're ready, but it is getting harder to stop the trend.

Handling an Image as a Parent

As girls gain that self-awareness, it is the time for parents to step in and up to the plate. At the first mention of body image, diets, and being 'sexy', parents need to take the time to discuss the real issues at hand — and makeup is not the issue. Self-confidence and a positive body image are being questioned by the kids and parents need to address those concerns in a proactive and positive way.

Banning makeup is just a small part of the battle and it's likely a rule parents should not necessarily impose. Rather, the opportunity should be taken to discuss the changes in growing bodies, the fear of the unknown, the self-consciousness of changing features, and importance of focusing on what's inside. A girl's character and values should be at the core of the discussion. Parents need to listen to what a child's concern is and absorb the issues at hand.

This is the time where makeup begins to change from being a source of fun to a mask for self-image. If parents are able to handle the root of the matter with a 'tween, there is a higher chance of promoting confidence and a positive self-image as they age into even more awkward teen years.

Setting Limitations

Banning makeup may be the battle you choose not to fight. Instead, parents can use the opportunity to teach a child what really matters is on the inside. Set limitations for the amount of makeup a child can wear or where they can wear it. For instance, a weekend trip to the mall or on special occasions but not daily to school might be a rule to put in place with a 'tween. Moms or other female relatives can offer a 'makeover' of sorts to teach a child how to apply the cosmetics and how much to put on. Go for a light, natural look and let the child take a turn at putting it on. It can make for a fun afternoon of open girl talk and some fun instead of a knockdown, drag out mom and daughter fight.

Addressing Self-Image

By setting the stage for open communication, the subsequent years of self-image worries and peer pressure can be handled proactively between parent and child. Girls can feel more secure in approaching parents to discuss what's going on in her life rather than dread another battle of control. Topics such as puberty, the opposite sex, self-confidence, the child's strengths, and even current issues can and should be addressed in a straight-forward, age-appropriate fashion, no matter how uncomfortable parents or child may tend to feel. Remember that if a parent isn't teaching and talking to their child, someone else is.

I have an 8-year-old daughter and I have never outright refused her request to wear makeup. I feel that because I have been willing to allow it on certain occasions, she in turn doesn't feel the need to throw a fit when I do say no or insist on wearing it all the time. I have enjoyed watching her apply some eye shadow or lip gloss before a night out to eat and have spoken to her often about body image.

After only 8 years on this planet, she's already brought up 'needing to be on a diet' and other body-relevant issues — all of which we have discussed openly and honestly. She is also aware of the fact that I do not wear makeup very often and I have taken the opportunity to impart my wisdom on the fact I don't feel I need makeup to look nice. I think she has received the message loud and clear, and it is my hope that as she gets older the battle over makeup is one we can both handle easily.

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