Have you heard about the pageant mom who gives her eight year-old daughter botox to ‘smooth her wrinkles’ and leg waxes to remove ‘unladylike’ hair?

The mother, Kerry Campbell, confessed to GMA to performing the ‘beauty’ treatments on her daughter, noting that ‘all the mothers’ in the pageant circuit do it.   The mom is a part-time aesthetician who has given herself Botox shots and won’t reveal where she got it from.


I was saddened to watch the video and see the daughter clearly display early warning signs of low self-esteem.  My heart nearly broke when she said the botox injections hurt, but they made her look prettier.   Child Welfare Services is investigating the mother, mainly because botox isn’t approved for us on children for cosmetic purposes.   THANK GOODNESS!


Now, I think we can all agree that this mother is 1) a little nuts; and 2) damaging her daughter.  Clearly, botox should not be used on children.  But, as I was laying on the beach today, I was thinking about how we, as adult women, feel compelled to engage in grooming rituals and what messages we send to children about why we do these activities. 


When I was a kid, I remember BEGGING and PLEADING with my mother to let me shave my legs.  I don’t remember thinking my leg hair was disgusting or being teased about it, but I do remember believing that shaving one’s legs was a mature thing, a sign of being an adult.  Little girls had leg hair; adults did not.  Hence, my desire to shave!   My mother insisted that I could NOT shave me legs so soon (I think I was in the 5th grade) so one night, I snuck into the shower, grabbed her razor, and proceed to slice open my leg.  My mom discovered the truth when she spotted my smooth calf and bloody band-aid. 


Another beauty ritual I started on my own was plucking my eyebrows.  Now, I REALLY wish my mother had taken control of my eyebrows.  I naturally have a really bushy unibrow, which was the source of much bullying, so I decide to pluck my own.  As a result, I had severely tadpole-shaped brows for much of middle school.  Finally, my mother intervened and saved me from my overzealous tweezer ways.  I remember when she told me that my tadpole brows were unsightly and needed to be corrected. 


When I started to coach Girls on the Run, I promised to never, ever wear makeup to GOTR if I could help it.  I didn’t want my girls to think they NEEDED to wear makeup.  A few girls asked me about makeup, and I said it was okay to wear it for fun, but you didn’t want to get all your self-esteem from wearing a mask – I think they understood this point. 


But at the same time, I know (and the GOTR girls probably already sense) that our society has really strong views on beauty rituals in women.   Things like shaving your legs, plucking your bushy eyebrows, wearing at least some makeup to the office or out to dinner, shaving your armpits, wearing certain clothes, painting your nails, wearing jewelry, and other pursuits are all concerned ‘things that grown-up women do.’  Women who break these rituals – especially the stronger ones – are few and far between.  It’s almost like these grooming rituals are as mandatory as brushing your teeth.


A while back, I read a great article from Blogher’s Own Your Beauty movement on one woman’s choice to not shave her body hair.  I loved her points, but when I thought about it, I realized that I don’t break the rules on ANY of the typical grooming rituals, with the exception of makeup during the day.  I shave, I pluck, I wax, I paint… Half because being a girly-girl is kind of fun, and half because I suppose I subconsciously feel like I have to do it.  I’m not sure which side is stronger.


Clearly, I think the pageant mom who forces extreme beauty treatments on her daughter is – at best – misguided.  But not all grooming rituals are bad.  I don’t have any conclusions on the topic of grooming rituals, but I am curious to know YOUR thoughts.


Do you engage in all the ‘traditional’ female beauty rituals?  If you break with a beauty ritual, which one and why?  Have you met any judgment over your choice?If you have kids, what do you tell them about plucking, shaving, waxing, and painting? 



  • Christine May 15, 2011, 11:27 pm

    I’m pretty regular as far as the basics (shaving, makeup, hair washing etc…) but I’ll never go as far as Botox, laser hair removal or lipo.

    When I have kids I’ll hold them off as long as possible, but not to the point where they’ll be teased or feel bad about themselves (my daughter will not be the only eighth grader with hairy legs or the poor kid who hasn’t been introduced to deodorant and smells after gym). I think things like that start at home- just because I shave my legs every day doesn’t mean I’ll talk about it with my kids!

  • Sarra May 15, 2011, 11:33 pm

    that video made my blood boil! what is wrong with her??? she’s destroying that poor little girl! I know there’s a lot of pressure from the outside to look pretty or whatever, but the majority of insecurities come from family and how your parents/family treat you and raise you. if your family supports you and tells you how strong and beautiful you are, then you’re most likely not going to crave outside attention and give in to societal “demands” or standards.

    I say that because I’m an American Muslim woman and I cover my hair, and that pretty much goes against every American societal standard. I get strange looks everyday and I’m no stranger to hateful, racist, bigoted comments. Of course this upsets me, however, my parents always taught me to be proud of who I am and never be ashamed. So I have always stayed true to myself and have always been proud of who I am, despite the many hateful comments I have received.

    I hope that poor little girl gets some help and realizes beauty has nothing to do with the way you look physically.

    • Amy May 16, 2011, 6:31 am

      You are amazingly strong. I’m still learning to be true to myself and I’m 35. Thanks for showing us your strength.

  • Jamie@Healthywalk May 15, 2011, 11:35 pm

    I certainly remember being a kid and wanting to shave my legs. That was a big thing for me. I never actually got into wearing makeup until high school when I joined show choir and had to wear it. Now, I go through periods (which usually last about 1-2 weeks) wear I don’t wear makeup at all; I rarely wear makeup on the weekends. I do this as a reminder that I don’t need makeup to feel beautiful in my own skin…and maybe there’s a little rebellious side of me that doesn’t want to because it goes against the norm 🙂

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) May 15, 2011, 11:39 pm

    Omg that is just such a horrible message to send to her daughter. Wow! As the mother of a 4 year old, I am extremely conscious about what messages I send, what I say, what I don’t say b/c it ALL registers. They soak it ALL in. Maybe not that minute, but it all comes out, so to speak.

    I do shave (I shave for ME, not for anyone else b/c i like the way it feels) and I color my hair and tweeze my brows b/c I like the way I look better but I think women who don’t do these things are beautiful and their choices are their own and that’s a beautiful thing: choice!

    Great post, Caitlin! 🙂

  • Lesley May 15, 2011, 11:43 pm

    Reading this post just gave me a shot of contentment. I know the beauty rituals I participate in vs the ones I don’t are based on personal preference only. I wear makeup on special occasions like going out on weekends and events. Day to day and at the office; I don’t. I’ve been told I look better with it, but I like the way I look without it, so I only wear it when I want to look dressed up. For me that’s fun, but feeling like I have to wear it all the time isn’t. I like getting pedicures, but I detest the smell and feeling of nail polish on my hands, so I never paint my nails. (dunno why it bothers me). I always shave my armpits, but I, uh, kinda don’t shave my legs at all. To be fair, I barely have hair on my legs so what little is there doesn’t bother me. I’ve only gotten looks at the nail salon when they push up my pants for the leg massage part and hello hair! Deal with it ladies, you’ve got gloves on! I think I look pretty typically feminine, but compared to some of my friends I’m pretty relaxed about my looks.

    I feel sad about girls in similar situations to the daughter. 8 is too young to have to worry about things like that, and it’s unfair the mom has to project her insecurities on her child.

    I was the fat kid growing up, but I also had clear porcelain skin as a preteen when all my friends were worrying over acne. I remember being called ugly and beautiful in the same week more times that I can count. I have the same insecurities as anyone else, but when you go through such regular contradictions in perception you look at things differently. When I have kids, especially girls, I’ll tell them to do what makes them happy and listen to the people that reinforce how they want to see themselves. Screw the rest of it! 🙂 Hope your still enjoying your vacation!!

    • Mari May 16, 2011, 3:43 am

      “I’ll tell them to do what makes them happy and listen to the people that reinforce how they want to see themselves. Screw the rest of it! ”

      Loving it! So true!

  • hippierunner May 15, 2011, 11:43 pm

    I’m pretty hippie and don’t wear any makeup or paint my nails often. I sometimes let my hair go naturally curly even though I know it looks nicer straight. I have been thinking about this lately because I’m going to go back to Los Angeles after spending months in Berkeley and I’m dreading knowing that being in LA I will feel the need to straighten my hair all the time. In Berkeley, everyone seems to be makeup free, natural haired, not caring about clothes much and it’s such a relaxed way of living (not caring so much on one’s appearance). I guess I adapt to the environment a bit.

    • Rachel May 17, 2011, 11:08 am

      I grew up in LA and then went to Berkeley and lived there for two years after my degree. I know what you mean about the difference in attitudes regarding personal appearance. I’m pretty hippie too and only wear makeup for weekends out and special occasions. However, I’ve discovered that LA is such a vast city with different neighborhoods that the “Hollywood” stereotypes don’t really hold up in many of the city’s places. I’ve now been in living in NYC for the last year, where I just finished graduate school. I’ve discovered that wherever I live in the next couple of months–LA, New York or the Bay Area, I just need to be confident in whatever manner of dress and grooming I choose to partake in. There’s no need to worry about a particular city’s standards. Sometimes I do feel pressure to up my beauty regime when I’m in LA, but then I also remind myself that of the three cities I’ve lived in, my LA friends have been the most caring and loyal to me of them all.

  • Taysa May 15, 2011, 11:45 pm

    I think you’re being too generous to the mother in the video. She is injecting poison into her young daughter. She is physically and mentally abusing her, IMO. It’s really sickening. My mother always told me I was beautiful and never suggested that I needed to take up any kind of beauty regime–shaving, makeup, hair or otherwise. To this day, I find myself inconsistent at best with any kind of routine. I am very happy I don’t waste a lot of time/money chasing after some societal idea of beauty, and I owe that to my mom.

  • Lauren May 15, 2011, 11:45 pm

    I used to beg my mom to shave too! She told me I was allowed to when I was 13 and I remember being so excited when I finally could, then I realized how ANNOYING it is to do it all the time. Some people think it’s gross, but I’m a seasonal shaver. There’s no way in heck I’m going to shave my legs all winter when I’m going to be wearing pants 100% of the time! Makeup I LOVE and have so much fun with, but I’ve made sort of an agreement with myself that I will NEVER let it get to the point where I feel even a tiny bit weird or self-conscious about leaving the house with nothing but my natural face. I think if you can’t walk out of the house without a made-up face on, then something is probably wrong on the inside. This is a great post, really made me think! 🙂

    • Pam May 16, 2011, 10:53 am

      I don’t think it’s gross! I actually recently went from seasonal shaver to infrequent – my leg hair is blonde, so if people notice, it’s not ‘gross’ I guess, but also, eff them if they care! 🙂 I still do underarms (when I remember!) but the legs, as long as /I/ act like it’s cool, I think it is. Confidence is never overrated.

  • cassie m May 15, 2011, 11:46 pm

    i dont wear makeup because i cant keep it in the right places and even though i have kind of bushy eyebrows, i dont pluck… it hurts!
    i dont regularly shave my legs because i hate doing it and until today, i had a bf of 2 years who didnt care. i still probably wont, because i have sensitive skin and i get ingrown hairs easily.
    basically, i dress pretty frumpy/dumpy. im in school and ive been marathon training and its all i can do to roll out of bed into my sweats, lol.
    i do think its upsetting that we feel like its necessary to be presentable, though. we shouldnt ffeel so much pressure to be beautiful, because looks are fleeting, and dont really matter anyway.

    • Amy May 16, 2011, 7:07 am

      I’m sorry about your boyfriend. Stay strong.

      • cassie m May 16, 2011, 7:28 am

        thanks… it sucks, but life goes on :-/

        • Amy May 16, 2011, 7:55 am

          Yeah, I’m starting through a divorce, but I know I’ll make it.

  • rachel E May 15, 2011, 11:53 pm

    love the no makeup rule at GOTR! there’s nothing better than being able (and confident!) to LEAD with more important things (confidence, personality, sweetness, humor) instead of appearances! and i am 28 yrs old and FINALLY okay going sans makeup when i’m out and about!
    good work, sister!

  • maria @ Chasing the Now May 15, 2011, 11:55 pm

    I am just as happy to not wear makeup as to wear it. I usually only wear it on days I work (to appear more professional). I do shave and pluck my eyebrows, but I am so not into painted nails… except toenails. 😀

  • Mandy May 15, 2011, 11:56 pm

    Kids can be so cruel about this sort of thing. A friend of mine didn’t shave her legs and one day she opened her locker to find it had been crammed full of razors and accompanying abusive letters from the boys in our class. As a 14 year-old, it’s pretty much the worst thing that can happen to you.

  • Gracie (complicated day) May 15, 2011, 11:57 pm

    Let’s not forget that many of these rituals are valued for the female bonding experiences they provide. While we aren’t out group leg-shaving (are we?!), “getting our nails done” is a girly event, doing each others’ hair and make up is a teenage pastime, and you’ll never hear women bond like they do when talking salons. I actually don’t do most of these things (I cut my own hair, have never had a professional manicure, and I even did my own make up for my wedding) and I realize it makes me left out of so many conversations. Most of these beauty rituals have become social events. Now, the body hair thing is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish and I don’t have a theory for that one! All I know is…I feel grungy if I skip too many shaves, lol!

  • Sheilah May 15, 2011, 11:58 pm

    I have ridiculously sensitive skin – it breaks out in a rash at the drop of a hat – so I’ve just never gotten into makeup. I’m sure there are brands that my skin could tolerate, but I don’t have the time, money or inclination to test until I find the right ones. I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’ve just gotten to the point that I’d like to be able to know how to do makeup for special occasions (the ‘getting all dressed up’ thing can be fun!), but I highly doubt I’ll ever wear makeup on a regular basis. I do use quite a few creams to take care of my skin, since I’ve finally found some that works well but is not medicated (The Body Shop’s aloe line, if any other eczema/crazy allergy sufferers are curious). I also don’t paint my nails – I know I wouldn’t keep up with it well, and they’d get all chipped, and I’d rather them be bare than chipped.

    I have very fair skin and very dark, thick hair and I had similar eyebrow issues as it sounds like you had, Caitlin – I really wish my mother had taken the reins on that one, too! I knew they looked bad but was afraid I’d pluck them into nothingness or that they’d end up really uneven, so I did very little to them for a very long time. It wasn’t until my second year of undergrad when my roomie, after a few drinks, took the tweezers into her own hands (quite successfully, thank heavens). I also remember being very self-conscious about hair on my legs when I was a kid and had to start shaving them in secret since my mom was opposed to my shaving them.

    As far as jewelry is concerned, I think of it very differently from how I think of the grooming rituals since taking a human sexuality course in undergrad – if I remember correctly, my textbook referred to “adornment”, wearing jewelry and scarves and such, as a kind of timeless feminine gender norm rather than a product of our society’s obsession with flawlessness – perhaps the being-girly-for-fun angle of grooming would fall under this as well. I think of my younger sister, who as a toddler showed up at the breakfast table every morning wearing four bracelets on each arm and two hairbands and six necklaces. To some extent this stuff seems to come very naturally to some people and I think to take that away from them would be as much a rejection of their personalities as forcing a tomboy to curl her hair every day before school; however, the feeling-insecure-without-it side is obviously a factor much of the time. In some cases there’s a fine line.

    And: everything about that mother-daughter pair is so sad to me. I’m worried about that little girl in the present, the short-term future and really her long-term future. If it isn’t too rude, I might point out that the mother seems totally uneducated about what Botox is and what its adverse effects can be, which in a way makes her seem like less of a horrible person to me (though still just as scary) – I have to believe that if she understood the risks and the fact that she is injecting poison into her little girl’s beautiful face, she’d stop.

  • Bethany @ More Fruit Please May 16, 2011, 12:00 am

    I remember wanting to shave my legs when I was in the fifth grade too – but only because my friends had started shaving their’s. It was the same for shaving my armpits and tweezing my eyebrows – I only started these habits because I had seen my friends doing them. I don’t think that hair removal is a problem as long as it’s not started at too early of an age and isn’t portrayed as just a beauty thing. However, the makeup rituals in today’s society are out of control. I’ll admit, I definitely don’t have the same self-esteem about myself when I go without makeup. I really commend you for making an effort not to wear makeup around your GOTR kids – I think that’s the proper message to send to young girls. Makeup isn’t necessary, but is fun to use the same way dressing up for a fancy occasion is.

  • Penny May 16, 2011, 12:01 am

    Posts like this is why I love your blog so much. I like to write funny, quirky posts for my own blog, but when I come here, and I read the things you’ve wrote, I am always so impressed by your intelligence and sympathy for women, girls, and people in general. And sometimes, you say things that make me ponder myself and the things I do. I am very dependent on the makeup I wear. And it is a terrible feeling. I’m 28, and I’ve been dependent on it since I was 12. My own husband rarely sees me without it. And it never occurred to me that I could be encouraging young girls to develop the same dependency on it.
    I love it when you make me realize things I should have already known. 🙂 you’ve done that a few times.

  • Rebecca May 16, 2011, 12:02 am

    I do remember “sneaking” a razor to attempt to shave my legs for the first time… I was maybe 5th or 6th grade? I don’t remember. Now I don’t even bother to shave my legs most of the time (esp in the winter), because I’m almost always in jeans/long pants. When I do shave my legs, it’s because A) I’m going to be wearing a skirt/dress ; B) I’m going swimming (very rare) ; or C) I feel like it’s been too long and the length bothers me.

    No makeup for me. Only when my sister & I played dress-up when we were, like, eight. And that time I went out with friends in 9th or 10th grade and we all dressed up and my best friend’s mother did my hair and makeup. I feel like it would take away from who I really am (I’d look like not-me…???), and I don’t want that feeling of HAVING to wear it to feel normal.

    What’s weird about my eyebrows is that a few years ago, one of my friends pointed out that I have a little bit of white in my left eyebrow. Wth? But I try not to let it bother me. No eyebrow plucking for me!!

    And no waxing, either. I feel like that would be too painful to do on a regular basis…

    • Vikki May 16, 2011, 2:39 pm

      6th grade seems to be a common age for shaving. I was also in 6th grade. Mom told me I couldn’t shave so I used her Nair instead. I was a devious, devious girl. I suppose I started because some kid told me that I had hairy legs like a man.

      Still, I don’t think that putting on makeup, shaving, plucking, etc have to be viewed as bad. Do I feel prettier when I’m well-groomed? Yes, I do. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. It gives me a little extra edge and confidence. For me, it is a little like putting on war paint for going into battle. If you feel like something is giving you an edge, you should do it. In college, I would dress up for tests that I was worried about. Makeup, hair, nice dress and shoes, the works. I wanted to go in with as much confidence as I could have for the test. I know, that is weird.

  • Jen @ Light Enough to Travel May 16, 2011, 12:05 am

    I love my eyebrows, actually for their thickness and natural look. I get them threaded every so often to shape them, but I go to a place called “Bombay Brow Bar” where they do the threading Indian-style, and they just clean up the strays for me. I do pluck the middle part though so that I don’t totally look like Frida Kahlo (although she was a VERY strong woman).

    I wear makeup sometimes but usually just to cover acne. If I wear more than coverup I like to keep it as natural-looking as possible. I plan to go with the natural look even when I get married in a couple of weeks. Wow that is sneaking up quickly!

    I don’t have much influence on girls at this point in my life, but I agree with your decision not to wear makeup to GOTR. Great idea!

  • Jessica May 16, 2011, 12:07 am

    Amazing post, Caitlin! If I had an 8-year old who wanted Botox, I would pull her out of pageants! That mother is delusional if she thinks that it was a mutual decision. I feel for future generations… they will get it even worse than us 🙁

  • Stephanie C May 16, 2011, 12:08 am

    I didn’t start wearing makeup until college – I had a MAC addiction! It was always for fun, though.
    I am lucky in that I hardly ever have to shave my legs – once a week if I am showing my legs, once every two weeks if I am not. I also thread my eyebrows – I like the way it shapes my eyes and makes them stand out more. I occasionally do my upper lip because *I* am self-conscious about people seeing any hair up there! Right now I wear minimal makeup when going to school (twice a week). Usually just concealer and mascara, but I HATE the process of taking makeup off so I rarely wear more than that. Aside from that, when I had the money I did get brazilians.. but again, that was something I decided on my own – my husband could care less either way.
    When I was younger, I did try to shave my legs after my dad made fun of me (wow, right?) for having hairy legs. And of course I ended up with a bloody leg.
    I always said to my husband that I was glad that we got together before I started wearing ANY makeup.. no surprises 😉

  • Tess May 16, 2011, 12:13 am

    I’m so glad you brought this up–I really enjoyed reading this post! I think it’s a very complicated, personal issue. Obviously, the mother in the video has taken things too far and, in my opinion, is setting a terrible example for her daughter. I think the issue of grooming rituals, though, is a little more complex. Personally, I shave my legs, put on makeup (though not much), tweeze my eyebrows, paint my nails, etc. because I personally love feeling polished and put-together. I don’t feel at all like I’m conforming to society’s demands. I do it because it makes me feel good, just like going for a run or eating healthily. (Although I do think someone above made a good point that there’s probably something wrong on the inside if you get to the point where you can’t leave the house without makeup on. I feel sad for those people.)

    I also think it’s important to look appropriate for certain settings. I’m a college student, and I can’t tell you how often my classmates come to class in pajamas with unwashed, unbrushed hair and a general funky smell about them. It’s an honor to be getting an education, and we should treat is as such! I’m not saying everyone should be in business casual, but a little more concern for personal hygiene and general deportment would be nice. I think how you present yourself to the world is important, but that at the same time, we should never let outward appearance define who we are.

    Sorry this was so long…I actually think about this a lot!

    • Orla May 16, 2011, 9:08 am

      I can’t believe that your fellow students come to class in their PJ’s. While I agree that Business casual may be a little much for students, having pride in your appearance -with or without makeup – is basic.

    • Caitlin @ The Caitie Experiment May 16, 2011, 12:40 pm

      I actually had a professor in college who laid his rules out on the first day of class: Show up looking as though you respect your right to an education and his time, or he’d show you the door. Basically: no sweatpants, no baseball hats on men, no pj-type attire, no gum, etc., and he locked the door behind him promptly as class started (if you left, you couldn’t get back in).

      I remember my friends calling it harsh when I mentioned it to them, but I felt it was ok, since he laid the groundrules up front and offered anyone not willing to abide by them the chance to peace out at the beginning of the semester. Apparently, my fellow classmates agreed; his classes filled up within 5 minutes of registration being open every single semester. Definitely one of the best profs I ever had.

  • Katheryn May 16, 2011, 12:14 am

    I shave, tweeze my eyebrows, and paint my nails a few times a month. I wear makeup every day, but a minimal amount. I don’t do any of these things because I feel like I have to. I do it because I want to. It makes me feel pretty and girly and more put together. I am confident in who I am and am fine with my beauty rituals. I have an almost 4-year-old daughter who is also confident in herself. She likes me to paint her nails when I do mine. I think I am teaching her to be comfortable in her own skin and confident with who she is. If she wants to experiment a bit with makeup when she’s older, that’s fine. If she never wants to wear makeup, that’s fine too.

  • Kate @ Walking in the Rain May 16, 2011, 12:17 am

    Some days I wish I could forgo all the womanly rituals and be ok with it, but I really really really need to stay on top of my facial hair. I was bullied about my leg hair, my lip hair, and was told by a family member i loved and respected to “deal with” my chin hair. (All serious blows to my self esteem.)

    I’ve finally come to terms with this and have started laser hair removal sessions to lessen my facial hair (worth it), but I wished my mom or a trusted adult would have sat me down when I was younger on told me that I don’t need to do beauty rituals to feel or look beautiful and anyone who bullied me was a jerk. i just happen to be hairy, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.

    However, plucking and botox on such a young child is a very dangerous thing to do. I hope the young girl can come out of this situation mostly unscathed and not have to worry about years of low self esteem like I experienced.

    • Vikki May 16, 2011, 2:47 pm

      Facial hair is an issue for me as well. Sometimes I wonder how many other women have the same problems as me with hair or if I’m the only one on the planet that has to deal with it.

  • Sarah May 16, 2011, 12:24 am

    This topic really fascinates me.
    I have really dark hair, AND I’m naturally very, very hairy. Starting in 5th grade, I started to get teased all of the time for my unibrow. That was my first insecurity, and I will never forget how comments from my peers made me shift from feeling beautiful to feeling ugly. I started plucking, and even when I had tadpole eyebrows, I still felt like I wasn’t good enough. I finally love my eyebrows, but its taken me a long, long time, and finding a happy medium between overplucking and letting my eyebrows grow naturally.
    I feel grateful because I grew up thinking that grooming rituals were not necessary. To this day, my mom doesn’t shave, and my dad has always told me that women are meant to be hairy – we are all animals, after all! But I still feel better about myself after grooming, putting on makeup, etc.
    I don’t know, I guess I’m still torn about it. I think grooming rituals aren’t all bad – they’re sometimes fun, and can be a form of self-expression. Its when society makes you feel like you should do something, in order to look a certain way, that its a problem. I still hope to someday be more comfortable with myself in a more natural state!
    Thanks for bringing this up!

    • Laura May 16, 2011, 2:19 am

      I’m the same way – I’ve always had a lot of very thick, curly hair (on my head, hee), but along with that, I grew thick brows from an early age and had a bit of a unibrow thing going on for years. I used to get teased about it all through intermediate school and now I’d just told my mum and had her pluck them for me!

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday) May 16, 2011, 12:37 am

    I think there is a difference between hiding who you are and just looking your best. It shows that you are clean and take care of yourself why you, say, brush your hair and shave your legs. It shouldn’t be about trying to look like someone else. When you feel pretty, you feel confident, too! It’s scary when people look completely different with makeup on. You should look like you, just “cleaned up good!”

  • Khushboo May 16, 2011, 12:41 am

    That mother is sickening…it really does nothing for the girl’s self-esteem! I remember when i was in high school, some of the girls would be so OTT with grooming. The amount of make-up they’d wear on a daily basis was absurd and they’d be up at the crack of dawn to straighten their hair, put their face on, etc! There is defintely a social pressure to conform. Once you start doing it to please others or because you feel you ‘have’ to, that’s when there is a problem!

    Where makeup is concerned, I wear the bare minimal on a daily basis and most of the time nothing! I like having my hair done, nails neat, and eyebrows threaded because it makes ME feel good, not to please others.

  • Kristina May 16, 2011, 1:11 am

    I am probably the most insecure at the moment about facial hair. I have gotten comments on it in recent years (from brutally honest children and my dad) and I am torn between desperately wanting to do something about it but not wanting to maintain it. I would love it if I could stop feeling insecure about something that I was born with, and that almost all women were born with. There is something incredibly wrong with people feeling ashamed about this stuff. But we can’t stop, because we are constantly seeing ads telling us that we need to be flawless to be pretty and hearing people being made fun of for the way they look. Where do you draw the line between being socially acceptable and taking a stand? The line is awfully blurred.

    • Samantha Angela May 16, 2011, 8:39 am

      I love your last point. That’s so true isn’t it?

      To “take a stand” and not get, say, botox or cosmetic surgery is one thing but to “take a stand” and not get rid of facial hair is quite another.

      Somehow our society decided that it is socially acceptable to both get cosmetic surgery and to choose to not get it…but cosmetic changes to our bodies that aren’t so extreme like shaving our armpits or waxing our facial hair are practically a necessity!

  • Wendy May 16, 2011, 1:23 am

    Great post on beauty conventions, glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who had such a strong reaction to this video. For myself, I do engage in a few rituals, such as plucking my eyebrows and removal of underarm hair. My mum, however, never taught me any of these things, so I have just picked them up as I went along (along with a few mishaps). She’s the type that as well, rarely wears makeup or participates in many beauty rituals. Luckily for me, I have barely any hair on my legs, so I have never had to shave them (all genetics).

    Makeup is one of those oddities for me. I work as a urban planner in the public sector, and often get “wow, you must get this all the time, but you look so young”, so I find it helps to dress well (youthful, trendy, office appropriate), and wear makeup. Fortunately, my demeanour is professional, so typically after their first glance or if they speak to me on the phone, they assume I’m older. I work on a number of high profile projects, so I have to be cognizant of how I present myself.

  • Laura May 16, 2011, 1:26 am

    I think girls and women should have confidence and self worth. If they have that, it shouldn’t matter if they decide to wear makeup or not, if they decide to shave, wax, or have a manicure, do a facial scrub, tweeze, tan, etc, etc.
    If they have their self-confidence they will do what they feel good about. They will know that what they see on TV isn’t real and look to real women in their lives as leaders. Yes, some of those women will wear makeup but they will see that only enhances their beauty, it is not what defines them. If a parent has good communication and teaches their child to have self worth from the start, the decision to do anything “beauty-ish” won’t come from a lack of self-worth or confidence. I feel a parent should help their child feel good about themselves. This does not include botox or anything along those lines. However, if your daughter had acne, would you help her find a remedy, whether it is in a specific facewash, cream, or medication, or changing how she is eating?
    I don’t think that those beauty rituals, the normal ones, should be avoided in fear of overdoing or abusing them.

  • Pattie May 16, 2011, 2:03 am

    I shave my armpits because I feel the hair gets in the way of applying deodorant. I shave my legs, only when I know they will be exposed. I pluck my eyebrows only as much as I can stand (my eyes get so watery) and I do what I can to minimize my upper lip hair. I only wear makeup on special occasions. But I do paint my nails for fun, because I like the way it looks.

    • Stephanie May 16, 2011, 3:20 pm

      So with you on all of this. Though I do wear makeup to work…my eyes are very heavy-lidded so I always look half-asleep otherwise. I suppose my 6AM alarm doesn’t help either… =)

  • Raina May 16, 2011, 2:22 am

    Hi! I’m a lurker finally popping in to say hi!
    I was also saddened by this interview. I can’t believe that the mother would do that to her child just to make her look more beautiful and win a freaking pageant. It really disgusts me.
    Unfortunately I am very self-conscious about my appearance. When I was younger I shaved my eyebrows until they were only about an inch long. I’m not kidding!! Finally I grew them out but during that awkward time it was so embarrassing!!! I also am a victim of shaving my arms because I was teased as a kid and now they just grow back super hairy. Ugh. ANYWAYS, over the years I have gotten better about my appearance. I am okay with not getting all dolled up just to go the grocery store and can even forgo eyeshadow (but not foundation) if I’m feeling lazy. Coming from experience though, it takes YEARS to overcome self-esteem issues.

  • Jamie@everydaydolce May 16, 2011, 2:42 am

    This just saddens me on so many levels. An 8 year old getting botox…is this really what we’re here for? To make ourselves and our children look perfect? If that is the motivation of anyone’s life they must be starving for self love and acceptance and peace.Peace with themselves.
    Botox isn’t going to remedy that.

  • Robin May 16, 2011, 4:32 am

    I’m a lot older than you, so I no longer have wrinkle-free skin. I still don’t want to get Botox. To me, that’s over the top at any age, but everyone has a choice. I do not agree that a mother should be able to make this choice for her eight-year-old daughter, however! That is so sad.

    I do the usual routines, but I don’t go over the top. And I’ve never had a pedicure. I hate having my feet touched! I do my own semi-sloppy job on my feet and call it a day.

  • Nadine May 16, 2011, 4:39 am

    My daughter is 11, and I am constantly amazed at how she is so much OLDER than I was at 11 years old. She cares about her clothes more, loves to shop, WANTS to wear makeup, does her nails, and is shaving her legs (since last fall, and she WAS being teased) — Whenever I visit school (middle school, and she’s in 6TH grade) — I am shocked and saddened by 1)what the girls are wearing and 2)how they look. I wasn’t allowed to wear jeans or makeup to school until I was 14. Even now, I don’t wear a stitch of makeup unless I’m going to work. I don’t get manicures, I hate pedicures, and I own about 5 pairs of shoes total. (3 of them are running shoes, I think) — it is a HARD balance to give a girl self esteem and to keep up with the peer pressure of parents who get their kids manicures, waxed eyebrows, and ALLOW them to wear makeup at 11 years old, and dress them like they are 16. By the time they are getting to Prom, none of this stuff is a FUN coming of age thing, its expected and mundane. I got my first manicure the day before I got married at 26. Anyway, botox for kids is just WRONG on so many levels, I hope she wins a lot of money for therapy…um, I mean college.

  • Hats @ See How She Runs May 16, 2011, 4:41 am

    This is a very thought-provoking post – thanks for bringing the topic up!

    I pluck my eyebrows (to neaten them up – not to change the shape – I have quite thick brows but like to keep them tidy), I shave/wax my legs/armpits/other areas (I like the feel and look), I henna my naturally light brown hair a vivid red (I love red hair – my grandma had red hair so that colouring runs in my family), I wear makeup (not everyday but when I feel like it). I do all of these things mainly for myself as I like the way I look and feel – both mentally and physically. However I do do these things partially for other people – partners, to be exact. I like the feel of smooth legs (…etc) and want whoever I’m with to enjoy that too.

    I’m lucky that when it comes to body image, I have very high self-esteem. I have a rockin’ body! (My main gripe is that I get a lot of pimples and blemishes on my face – but I still don’t layer on make-up everyday, so I am fine with that to an extent). I find it so sad that some women feel that they HAVE to do all these rituals when they might not want to. But I find it equally sad that some women who don’t do these things think that all women who DO have low self-esteem, or that they can’t because they have to show that they are ‘stronger’. What is comfortable for one person might not be for another.

  • Hayley @ Oat Couture May 16, 2011, 4:44 am

    This is absolutely INSANE! On what planet do you have to be to think that injecting your eight year olds face with something that will end up paralyzing her facial muscles is ok?! It makes me so angry. I am massively against child pageants in general and I could rant about them for ages… parading young girls around in fancy dresses / swimsuits etc with makeup plastered all over there faces… hello! It’s asking for trouble and is just plain wrong!! These young girls are basically being taught that the world judges them on appearances only and if they don’t look a certain way they fall short?! Shocking! I believe in looking after myself, the usual… shaving, nails, a little makeup etc etc And as a model I understand the pressures and know how it feels to be judged on looks only. It can be hard to deal with even at my age (25) but at least I had my youth and also the time to learn that there has to be more to you than how you look! It’s sad because this girl will more than likely grow up with serious self esteem issues all because of her mother!

  • Anna May 16, 2011, 4:58 am

    I pluck and shave like a madwoman, as I am really iffy about hair on my body, which I guess might have to do with the beauty standards and having been teased about my hairy legs and also bushy eyebrows as a child. I rarely wear make up though.

    I don’t actually mind hair on other women, I think it can be quite beautiful, actually. A fantastic ambassador for more hair is Amanda Palmer, by the way. You should check her out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcoreV10hI8

    I saw the Botox video after you tweeted it, and found it absokutely horrifying. I think the mother is destroying her beautiful daughter. 🙁

    • M May 16, 2011, 9:43 am

      Wow,that is quite the video!I actually thought it was great.

      Thanks for sharing the link.

  • Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet May 16, 2011, 5:22 am

    I do practice many of the grooming rituals that you mentioned. Part of doing it is definitely to feel prettier and more confident, but other things, like shaving my legs, go beyond the superficial. I really hate feeling prickly legs, so I shave just so I can feel my own legs and not be grossed out!

    Botox is definitely to the extreme, and I think giving botox to a young girl is completely insane!

    But if the little rituals like a touch of makeup, doing your hair and painting your toes makes you feel prettier and glamorous, then I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s only when people are completely dependent on these rituals to have any confidence or sense of beauty that they might be taking the conventional rituals too far.

  • natalie @ http://healthybalancingact.blogspot.com/ May 16, 2011, 5:24 am

    thanks for sharing this post, its been all over the news here in australia and has many people outraged.. its awful and i believe it is abuse, i think its a great thing you are doing with girls on the run well done keep up the good work

  • Britney May 16, 2011, 5:55 am

    I don’t paint my nails on a regular basis. I don’t think they’ve been painted since my last manicure, which was about a year and a half ago. I don’t like taking the time to do them myself, and I’m not very good at it, either.

  • Jacalyn May 16, 2011, 6:01 am

    I have never seen the point of the pageant world. I can’t believe stage parents do half that stuff to their little babies. Veneers on their teeth so they appear perfect? Putting little kids on diets? Spray tans? I literally get sick. I think it is sad because the moms are projecting their own insecurities onto their daughters.

    So, how do we all keep from projecting our insecurities onto our children? Or at the very least, keep our children from seeing our insecurities so that they don’t pick them up as their own? I know I have to work some of this out on my own before too long because my son is 2 and is a little sponge. I never speak outloud of weight or image. We eat our veggies and exercise to stay healthy. He knows that mommy runs in the morning while daddy runs in the evening and that is part of our daily routine just like he gets to go outside and play in the afternoons at school. However, we never talk about gaining weight or getting fat after a weekend of bbq’s and parties. It’s definitely tough being a parent. That being said, wouldn’t each parent want their child to not have to go through poor self esteem? I guess some parents don’t see what they are doing to their children.

  • Carol May 16, 2011, 6:19 am

    Yeah, this is really crazy. I can’t believe the lengths some people will go to just to win.

    I don’t wear make up. I don’t pluck my eyebrows. I just see no need to do these things. I have very sensitive skin and the less I can do it irritate it the better I feel about myself:)

  • Christine @ Burning It Off May 16, 2011, 6:35 am

    I find child beauty pageants extremely disturbing; any parent who signs their kid up for one of those should be investigated. Ick.

    I was also in grade 5 when I wanted to start shaving my legs. My mother wouldn’t let me but luckily I had an older sister who was more than happy to show me how to work a razor. We both got in major trouble when my mom noticed my smooth hairless legs lol…

  • Alison May 16, 2011, 6:44 am

    My eastern European heritage gave me many things, including hairy gorilla legs. I begged my mom to allow me to shave my legs all through elementary school. She finally allowed me to after 5th grade ended. At first it was great, but then…it became the big pain that leg shaving really is.

    I wash/dry my hair daily; I wear make up and shave my legs. I wouldn’t consider myself a huge girly girl, but I feel better with make up on. It evens my skin tone and hides a few acne scars. One day when I was putting on make up, my daughter (age 9) said ” I hope I never have to wear make up,” to which I replied, “you don’t have to.” She was like, “oh, okay.” 🙂

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine May 16, 2011, 7:00 am

    Wow. That mom- just WOW. She’s nuts, that’s all I can say. I hope child services does intervene in that case, because it’s just ridiculous.

    I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs or underarms until I was 13, and man- it drove me NUTS!! The thing is that I have really light blond hair, so it doesn’t even matter when I don’t shave! Unless someone is touching my legs, they can’t tell. Still, I felt so uncool in sixth grade when I felt like everyone but me shaved their legs.

    To be honest, though, I’ve never really felt like I “had” to wear makeup and do my hair. I went to an all-girls’ school, and we often went there looking like gross slobs. Seriously, no showers, no brushes, no makeup, ripped tights, etc. And that made me think so differently about it!! I love to wear makeup and do my hair and be all girly, but being in that environment for seven years really changed the way I viewed primping. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m a huge proponent of single-sex education. I went to college and was kind of taken aback by all the people that wore makeup to class! Now I wear a little bit and I usually wear nice clothes just because I don’t want my professors to think I’m the sloppy looking girl (and everyone at NYU gets dressed to the nines), but I’m really glad I don’t care who sees me without makeup. If someone can’t handle you looking your worst, they certainly don’t deserve you looking your best 🙂

  • Verna May 16, 2011, 7:07 am

    I shave, of course, and paint my toenails, but those are really the main ones for me. Since I’m pregnant, my leg hair doesn’t grow as fast, so shaving once or twice a week is plenty.

    I do pluck my eyebrows, but usually let them get pretty bad before I get to that point. I loved getting them waxed but it got too expensive. I don’t wear make up a lot. My husband perfers me without it and unless we’re going somewhere nice I don’t bother.

    I hope that will set a good example to any daughters I may have.

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans May 16, 2011, 7:09 am

    There are days where I wear a full face of makeup, straighten my hair and wear perfume. Other days I realize I haven’t shaved in too many days to mention, that I probably should have washed my hair before leaving the house and I have been wear the same go-to comfy pants over an over again in PUBLIC!! I think there is a lot of pressure on women and girls to look a certain way but it helps me that my mom never wore makeup and my boyfriend likes me better without it because I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin, whether its freshly washed and smelling pretty or not!!!

  • Rachel May 16, 2011, 7:11 am

    I did the same thing you did when it came to shaving my legs. I went behind my mother’s back and sliced my ankle open. When I was finally allowed to shave my legs I remember doing it with my mom right next to me and I still feel like it was a bonding experience. I also overplucked my eyebrows when I was in high school. I have scars on both my eyebrows, while the scars are not noticeable they have prevented hair from growing, so my eyebrows have never been the normal shape. It use to bother me when I was younger than I could never perfect the classic arch.

    Up until a few years ago my mother never plucked her eyebrows, saying that if Brooke Shields could do it so could she. I think the fact that she didn’t follow all beauty rituals set a good example for me that not all girls/women are the same or have to act the same.

    Now that I am older a lot of my earlier beauty rituals have fallen to the wayside. I still pluck my eyebrows but infrequently. I shave my legs but I usually go a few weeks. I wear make-up every once in a while. I no longer feel like I need to follow the beauty rituals to be happy with myself or that the beauty rituals make up who I am; instead, when I put on make-up I do it for fun. It also helps that I am not hairy, and even when I’ve gone a month without shaving you can barely tell. I don’t think there is anything wrong with following some of the beauty rituals, but they shouldn’t feel necessary. If you are afraid to go outside without make-up then you have a problem.

  • Mia May 16, 2011, 7:17 am

    I don’t engage in any feminine rituals, except for spending more time on my hair than most men would. I don’t wear makeup (I only wore make up twice in my entire life – junior and senior prom), I don’t shave, I don’t paint my nails. Every couple of months I decide out of the blue to get my eyebrows waxed, but men do that too these days!
    I decided a very long time ago that I will not go out of my way to enhance my appearance if men don’t do it. Interestingly I have never had ANYONE say anything to me about it. My husband will sometimes complain about me not shaving my legs, but that just adds fuel to my fire. My mom will ask me to wear makeup, but I just laugh it off. Strangers, friends, coworkers never say anything, and I don’t think I’m treated any differently from women who do engage in these rituals.
    Maybe it’s a function of the people I surround my self with, or the kind of work I do, or maybe even something about the way I carry my self, but based on other people’s comments it’s clear that I am very lucky in that no one has said anything about it…

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey May 16, 2011, 7:21 am

    I loved this post. I am a traditional girly girl, except for what I let my eyebrows go a little too long. When I was in high school, I was a swimmer, and during the season our coach didn’t let us shave our legs (extra hair = extra drag) and we would shave it all off before our big meet at the end of the season. I thought it was disgusting, but complied.

    I love that you didnt’ wear makeup to GOTR – that is sending a great message!

  • Crystal May 16, 2011, 7:26 am

    I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with doing these things, however, as a woman who considers wearing mascara as a good makeup day I find it incredibly sad that so many women feel they HAVE to wear makeup to feel beautiful. I have many women in my life that feel they can’t even go get groceries or exercise without putting on a full face of makeup. Truthfully, I think every woman looks much more beautiful naturally rather than with a face full of goop!

    • D May 16, 2011, 7:58 am

      I appreciate your point, but I just wanted to respond. I’m in my 20s and while I “should” have youthful skin and “should” feel beautiful sans makeup, that’s not the reality. I don’t think it’s fair to say that it is ‘incredible sad’ for a woman to feel like she has to wear makeup. Why is that sad? Just because YOU don’t wear it and don’t need it to fee good, other women might, and I don’t see how that’s a problem or something to judge other women for. I am perfectly confident about the way I look, but I have dreadful skin, and I’m not about to go to work, or class, or even the damned grocery store, without some concealer, foundation and blush. It’s not a “face full of goop”, and I don’t understand why many grown women have to talk about makeup like it’s some outrageous foreign substance that they just can’t wrap their head around. It’s makeup, and something that women have been applying to their faces, in some form or another, for centuries. I can assure you, my skin does NOT look more beautiful without makeup and no one is going to tell me otherwise, so consider all the women out there who truly have bad skin, or permanent dark circles under their eyes, or whatever. It’s not ‘sad’!

      • Crystal May 16, 2011, 10:13 am

        I am sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. I by no means have perfect skin and I have under eye circles, but, that is ME and I am OK with that. All I am saying is we as women are taught in our country that breakouts and dark eye circles are these terrible things to be hidden as opposed to embracing ourselves for who we are, warts and all! Again, sorry to offend you.

  • Fallon May 16, 2011, 7:41 am

    Oh I saw that pageant mom on TV. Ridiculous! That honestly should be illegal and the public should do something about it.

    Growing up for me I never felt pressured until 5th grade when girls started making fun of me because I didn’t wear a bra! I had nothing there so it not like it matter but my mom took me to get a training bra. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin after those girls made fun of me. As for makeup I had a really bad case of acne (which I think we all do at that age) but I wanted to cover it up. We went to Clinque to pick out their lightest coverage, and I felt more comfortable in my own skin. My eyebrows were very bushy so I start waxing those in middle school. Oh and getting highlights in the hair was a big deal too! Luckily my parents really never told me no, but I was already in middle school when these changes started to happen. It was kind of like “my daughter is growing up” kind of event. 😉

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg May 16, 2011, 7:49 am

    I was so sad when I first heard that story of the 8 year old with botox. What in the world!!!

    I do most things you mentioned: shave, wax, etc, but I don’t wear makeup on a regular basis at all. I wear some on special occasions but nothing consistent. My mom didn’t wear makeup so I never learned how!

  • Sam May 16, 2011, 7:50 am

    For the most part I follow the standard beauty routines. Shave, color an cut my hair, makeup, etc. However, I don’t feel that I do these things because I have to look pretty, but rather because they make me feel good. I’ve been known to go way too long without shaving, and walk out of the house regularly without makeup on, and I’m OK with that. I don’t feel any less because of it. I’m proud of who I am, makeup and heels or pony tail and sweat pants.

  • Megan May 16, 2011, 7:52 am

    I definitely follow most of the “beauty rituals”. I use makeup to cover my acne, shave my legs because I feel good when I have smooth legs. I guess, like you, it’s a little because I like being a girly girl, but also a little bit because I feel like I should.

    Oh, and I also shaved my legs behind my moms back, but she didn’t catch me so quick. She was really disappointed when she found out though. I think it was because she lost the experience of teaching her only daughter to shave. My reason was peer pressure, I didn’t have dark hair (still don’t), but the other girls in school shaved their legs and I wanted to, too.

  • Amy May 16, 2011, 7:52 am

    I guess the beauty ritual I follow regularly is shaving legs and arm pits. I hate being hairy. I might wear make up once or twice a year, I don’t own a blow dryer or any other hair styling tools, and I think I own 2 pairs of heels. I’m a pretty casual person and I’m ok with that.

  • Whitney May 16, 2011, 7:53 am

    I don’t think I break any grooming rules. I’m pretty lax though when it comes to beauty…I shower at night and it takes me 15-20 minutes in the morning to get ready. This is weird, but I don’t need to wear deodorant. I’ve just never needed too, I don’t even really have any hair in my armpits. That was probably TMI, haha!

  • Cassie @ Back to Her Roots May 16, 2011, 7:59 am

    I’ve been kinda forming a blog post about a similar topic in my head. I struggle with identifying myself. On one hand, I like being a girly girl. I like having nice looking eyebrows and smooth legs. I like having shiny lips and curly hair. But then there is the other part of me that likes getting dirt under my fingernails and putting on my work boots. For the longest time, I thought I had to be one or the other. I had to identify myself with tomboy or girly-girl. But the truth is, both are parts of me. And if I abandon one, I don’t feel like myself.

    So, my new sparkly platforms are in my closet right next to my favorite muck boots.

    Side note: my Mom didn’t teach me to pluck my eyebrows. So when I was about 12, and sick of being picked on, I went and “plucked” them with fingernail clippers. It mostly just clipped the hairs off at the surface and they grew back in like stubble. I still remember the Thanksgiving after I did that and my oldest sister (12 years older than me) making fun of me for the hack job I did on my eyebrows. I stormed away from the dinner table crying.

    • Christine May 16, 2011, 11:18 pm

      My mom didn’t teach me to pluck eyebrows either so at 13 I though I would take a razor and trim things up . . . I ended up shaving of half my eyebrows on each side – I was quite a sight for a while. I always vowed I would help my daughters learn to do those things when/if they ever felt self conscious or wanted to learn how

  • Ali @ Ali Runs May 16, 2011, 8:06 am

    I did the same thing when I was younger. All of my friends had shaved their legs by 6th grade so one day I just did it myself without talking to my mom about it first. I felt so guilty that I ended up going to her crying later that night. I definitely remember feeling a great deal of pressure from my peers. A lot of girls were tanning in the 6th grade (!!!!). I remember my parents wouldn’t let me do tan (for good reason) and I was so upset because “everyone else was doing it.” Now I am so happy my parents put their foot down, especially reading about the dangers of skin cancer and tanning beds.

  • Molly @ RDexposed May 16, 2011, 8:09 am

    This reminds me of that pagent show on TLC. Those little girls weird me out due to all the things that get done to them.

  • D May 16, 2011, 8:11 am

    I do all of these rituals, for sure, and I don’t even feel slightly bad. When I was growing up, my mother didn’t let me shave until I was in 7th grade or wear makeup to school until I was 13 (and even then, just concealer and lip gloss really, but I was allowed to ‘play’ with makeup in the house when I was a little younger), but my mother is extremely, extremely feminine and one of her ways to relax was (and still is) by taking a long bath with nice soaps and products, using a face mask, a hair treatment, etc. She would go to her bathroom early in the evening for her ‘spa’, and I used to love giving her a hug in her white fluffy robe, her face mask on, etc. She felt like this ulta glamorous mom who liked taking time to make herself feel beautiful. Now, if I have a bad day, she’ll suggest going to the drugstore and buying some fun products and chilling for a few hours with a hair treatment on and some new nail polish. I think it’s good to feel good about the way you look and feel ‘groomed’.

    Also, everyone who responded saying they shave and pluck because they “want to”, this is not even slightly believable. We do it because it’s socially encouraged, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s not pretend that we take tweezers and pluck out our facial hair, or take a razor to our bikini line because it “feels so good”.

  • G May 16, 2011, 8:27 am

    I remember sneaking my mom’s makeup when I was in Grade 6 – although you could never actually see it on my face, I just wanted to be able to say that I did wear makeup just to fit in. My mom was really good about all this kind of stuff and when I asked to shave, she set me up with a razor and showed me how to do it properly.
    Today (I’m 22), I don’t wear makeup at all or do my hair (i.e. blowdry/straighten/whatever), except for job interviews/weddings/really fancy events. I do shave my armpits and pluck my eyebrows, but could care less about my legs – you really can’t tell unless you look closely. No I don’t look homely, yes I have friends and a boyfriend. It was scary to cut out these habits at first, but now I am 100% ok with it! I dare everybody to try it!

  • Ally May 16, 2011, 8:29 am

    I really only shave my legs once or twice a week in the winter, and once every two days in the summer…and I only pluck my eyebrows when they threaten to crawl off my face! I really do pluck because I like the way my eyebrows look when they are shaped, and I like the feeling of a smooth leg. Plus, I’m Italian. My hair comes in quite dark! 🙂

  • Michelle @ The Cooking Life May 16, 2011, 8:37 am

    I watched that video and read an article about that mom – it is so sad 🙁 I do hope that she realizes the kind of damage she is doing to her daughter. Sigh…

    As far as “beauty” rituals, the only things I do on a regular basis is shave my legs (except during the winter, haha – my leg hair doesn’t grow that quickly) and pluck my eyebrows, asides from the other hygiene stuff that I do daily. With make-up, I hardly ever wear it. Maybe on special occasions? I think laziness has something to do with not wearing make-up, plus if I do wear it, I end up checking it so much that it gets annoying. So, I just don’t wear it. But I’m Filipino with very tan skin and my friends actually think there is no need for me to wear make-up at all. It IS nice to wear it every so often 🙂

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun May 16, 2011, 8:38 am

    I do the bare minimum – basically keeping clean and proper hygiene. I will wear makeup when going out to dinner or to church, but on the every day I don’t. I shave my legs a couple times a week just because it feels cleaner. I guess I like feeling put together as often as possible (since as a mom I’m often covered in kid “stuff”). I never really thought if its affected by society’s expectations on grooming though. I’m sure it is on some level.

  • Aimee May 16, 2011, 8:39 am

    So sad…and disturbing. Why can’t parents let kids be kids?

  • Beth @ 990 Square May 16, 2011, 8:43 am

    I shave and wear makeup, but I draw the line at waxing. Especially down there. The idea of hot wax just scares me too much. Plus, women are meant to have hair there, and removing it all is like a creepy little girl look for a grown woman. Just my two cents.

    I do pluck my eyebrowns some (mostly because they would be really a mess if I didn’t) but I don’t thin them out as much as would be considered “fashionable”. I think they look good, and it’s a natural look. I have had many, many people comment on them over the years though.

    • M May 16, 2011, 9:48 am

      I agree I find it a bit weird that some men like
      us to look prepubescent with no genital hair.

      I hope this “tren” fades away-I am dismayed at thinking our young girls will grow up into thinking they have to wax off all their genital hair in adulthood.

      I think we naturally are made to hair on our vaginas
      and I really hope most men aren’t expecting otherwise 🙁

      • M May 16, 2011, 9:49 am

        * ” trend” *

  • Kelly May 16, 2011, 8:44 am

    For all the things I may be insecure about grooming rituals are not anything I have ever focused on. Ever. I get my eyebrows waxed when I need to, I shave when I need to, I never wear makeup (ever), and I 100% happy. When I have kids I will not be one those moms.

  • Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out May 16, 2011, 8:51 am

    Ooh, great post! I went a year in college without shaving my legs out of rebellion. And I’ve always been sorta a rebel when it comes to conforming to beauty norms. I wore pixie short hair for 10 years (age 19-29). I dressed asexually. Never wore skirts or heels or makeup, even after working as a makeup artist for 5 years.

    Now at the age of 32, I’m mroe feminine than I’ve ever been. I wear jewelry and get pedicures and wear skirts/dresses almost exclusively.

    I don’t know what has changed, but I don’t feel pressure to do it, b/c I obviously didn’t do it for so long. I think I just like it. And this phase of my life is a girly-girl.

  • Kim May 16, 2011, 8:55 am

    I am 24 years old and I just started wearing make up a few months ago! And even now, I rarely put it on. In fact, I don’t even know the dos and donts of makeup products.

    Your story reminded me of when I was in elementary school, I thought I had hairy arms so I went in the bathroom with a straight razor blade and pretty much butchered my arm. Ugh, never again, haha.

  • gabriella @ embracement May 16, 2011, 8:58 am

    For me some of the rituals are just as natural as brushing my teeth. I have naturally thick hair that grow pretty fast and although I’m blonde my body hair is pretty dark. I am personally uncomfortable with not shaving. At the same time, I feel no pressure TO shave. After going for an all girls school for 4 years and wearing tights all year round, no one ever knew what I had going on and shaving was for me. As far as other areas (bikini line and armpits), I personally like less hair, but I will admit to being sort of grossed out when I see women with hair. I don’t know if thats society’s doing, or just because of my own stance.

    I LOVE manicures because I think they make me look polished and put together, but I when I say manicure, I just mean filed and nice looking nails, there doesn’t have to be polish. I love doing my hair and makeup because its fun for me but I go out of the house very often with my hair in a bun and no makeup because its good to breath.

    That mom makes me want all parents to have to get a license to have kids and makes me very concerned. But for me at least beauty “rituals” came at their own speed and I have chosen to participate in them.

  • Ashley May 16, 2011, 9:03 am

    I absolutely participate in every type of grooming ritual AND SOME. I will not leave the house without a full face of makeup, jewelry, etc. This has been something I’ve practiced since I was in 5th grade. I think this partly stems from the fact that I am a perfectionist coupled with watching my grandmother, whom I looked up to. This post brought up a lot of good points and personal self-evaluation.

  • Cindy May 16, 2011, 9:04 am

    That mom needs a reality check.

    I love being a girly girl. I get my nails done and pluck my eyebrows or get them waxed. I love facials and massages and anything that involves pampering. Not because of societal “norms,” but because I like it. The one thing I am lax on is shaving my legs right now b/c of our very small shower with no tub, so it makes it awkward. I started shaving in the 5th grade b/c I had very thick hair on my legs and it drove me nuts. (I also matured way earlier than my peers, so I was dealing with regular bras before any of my friends thought about training bras.)

    I wear makeup when I feel like it, not because I have to. I think a lot of it has to do with where I am going and what my plans are. If I know I am going to be going out all day I’ll put on makeup. If I am just running to the store and I am going to workout after I don’t bother since I will just have to wash it off before working out.

  • Gina @ RunningtotheKitchen May 16, 2011, 9:06 am

    Great post. That video makes me sick. You’ve now got me thinking about all these rituals..I do participate in most of them. I’m not as diligent with my eyebrows as I’d like (i naturally have a unibrow too!) and find myself becoming self conscious of them as they grow back in. interesting to reflect on that after reading this…

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething May 16, 2011, 9:06 am

    i have to be honest here and say i am a very low maintenance kind of girl. i HATE wearing makeup and only do so when i go to work. i really dislike plucking my eyebrows so i have them waxed about every 6 weeks and i get my hair dyed only because i would look close to 60 if i did not. other than that, i feel most beuatiful when i have no makeup on, my hairs in a pony tail and i am in my sweats 🙂 great post cailtin. so sickening what that mom is doing to her daughter.

  • Amanda May 16, 2011, 9:13 am

    This is something that I have questioned and changed concerning my own habits. I have stopped wearing make up 95% of the time. I might wear makeup 6 times a year now, if that. I was fed up with the pressure and wasted time associated with “doing my make up” daily. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. I also stopped painting my nails. Occasionally I will put a clear coat on them to strengthen, but I decided that there is no reason to paint my nails in chemicals when I try to avoid them in other aspects of my life! I do pluck my eyebrows occasionally…once every other month maybe? Mostly this is laziness though and I have blond hair so it isn’t too much different if I pluck or do not. As far as shaving is concerned, I only shave if I’ll be wearing a dress or bathing suit (which isn’t often for me). I have eczema and it is irritated by the razor. It was one of the things my Fiancé had to accept and luckily he does! He never pressures me into feeling like I need to change myself to be “prettier.” I work in an office and often wonder if people judge me based on my appearance. I’m comfortable enough in my skin that I’d never let it bother me, but I’m still curious if anyone even notices!

  • Orla May 16, 2011, 9:14 am

    Is it just me or is that woman potentially medically harming her child. Botox (in its cosmetic guise) has had research carried out on it to show its effects and long term effects on adults, but has there been research carried out to show what the long term effects are when it is used on children. Children who have not yet developed physicially, hormonally or mentally. I can’t believe that the mother thinks it is okay to do this and apart from the message she is passing onto her daughter, she obviously has issues herself that she cannot see what she is doing is so so wrong.

  • Krista May 16, 2011, 9:18 am

    When I heard about that Mom I was pretty upset. What an awful thing to do to a child!!! I follow the shave, pluck minimun make up rituals, but I can’t usually be bothered with nail polish, straightening my hair or dressing “up”. I’m more of a jeans/t-shirt kinda gal. As for Sarah….I caught on that she started shaving her armpits before I could show her how. Once I knew I made sure she was doing it right so as not to cut herself, I made sure to tell her NOT to start shaving her legs yet. I let her knwo that once she started she’d have to keep it up….ahhhh….girls!!!

    • Jen May 16, 2011, 9:27 am

      I don’t straighten my hair either; I was teased for my curly hair in middle school (I was in middle school during the late 90s/early 2000s so everyone had flat-ironed hair), and I tried straightening it once and it took so long and my hair looked so bizarre to me that I haven’t done it since.

  • Halley (Blunder Construction) May 16, 2011, 9:19 am

    I was reminiscing last night when I saw a commercial for Nair, about being a teen and thinking I had to remove basically all the hair from my body. Legs, arms, even my lower back (weirdo). Once you start down that path, it’s hard to reverse it without feeling like a woolly mammoth. Took me years to give up and have hairy arms like a normal person.

  • Charise May 16, 2011, 9:21 am

    I subscribe to all the grooming rituals, but I’m not obsessive about them. My husband calls me his “little dirtball” (joking, of course, he’s not being mean) – I have no problem leaving the house unshowered, hair in a messy ponytail, no makeup, especially if I’m just running errands, shopping, or picking up food. I shave maybe 2-3 times a month in the winter and once a week in the summer. I have friends who are fanatical about being hair-less all over and do a lot of waxing or lasering, never leave the house without a fully made-up face, and still go tanning. It makes me a little sad, but it seems to have a lot to do with the culture of the small towns they grew up in, where women had a lot of pressure to look gorgeous all the time and those behaviors were the definition of pretty.
    On the other hand, I do like getting all prettied up with makeup and jewerly and cute clothes to go out on the weekend or some days for work. I am just glad I have good enough self-esteem to know I don’t NEED to do that every day!

  • Jen May 16, 2011, 9:23 am

    I can’t believe that woman is injecting her daughter, and what’s even worse is that anti-aging products are already being marketed to little girls in the form of play makeup kits. Like an 8-year-old should be worrying about wrinkles; it’s disgusting, and I worry about the damage the girl’s mother has already done to her, making her think that there’s something wrong with her that needs to be “fixed” with chemical injections.

    I don’t wear make-up or get manicures/pedicures (I can’t stand other people touching my feet, I’m ridiculously ticklish). I don’t wear make-up because I get thoroughly freaked out by anything coming close to my eyes, so mascara, eye liner, and eye shadow are like torture for me to apply. My mom has always had a very natural look too; I can remember two times she ever wore make-up, for my sisters’ weddings, and she doesn’t dye her hair either. I like her reasoning; this is the face God gave her and she’s 63 years old and doesn’t have any pretensions of pretending to be younger.

    • Jen May 16, 2011, 9:38 am

      I wanted to add that I do, however, subscribe to most of the other rituals: shaving, plucking my eyebrows. I think those are the ones that are almost universally expected in the US. I would feel extremely self-conscious if I let my eyebrows go for a few weeks or if I left the house in shorts without having shaved within two days, and I think that speaks volumes about the force of these rituals and how they shape the way we perceive ourselves.

  • Katherina May 16, 2011, 9:25 am

    I shave pretty regularly, and have the exact same shaving story as a 5th grader. My eyebrows go untame for a long time which is fine because they’re naturally eyebrow-shaped. Once I see that it’s been a while I’ll pluck. I try not to wear makeup, but I’m surrounded by people who do and feel kinda un-pretty but I’m trying to work on that in other ways, namely getting into shape and taking care of my appearance in healthy ways. I love that you don’t wear any makeup for GOTR.

  • Rob Runs to Remember May 16, 2011, 9:27 am

    I feel so bad for that child, and even the mother. Clearly she has a warped sense of self-worth that she’s passing on to future generations by doing this to her daughter.

    I wanted to shave and be cool when I was like 11, my mom wasn’t crazy about it but she couldn’t stop me! I’ve shaved ever since but pretty much only because I don’t like the itchy, prickly phase when hair grows back in. Other than that I don’t do anything other than use moisturizer (because it has sunblock) and sometimes paint my toenails (to hide that they might be bruised from running) and fingernails (to hide that they probably have dirt under them). I’ve never worn make-up, not even on my wedding day. I’ve never been a “girly-girl” and sometimes I do kind of wish I was when I see beautiful women on a night out, dolled up with make-up and fancy clothes. Then I remember that those women are just as beautiful beneath all of that stuff anyway.

  • Kim May 16, 2011, 9:30 am

    I don’t wear make-up except for special occasions when I know I’ll be in photos, like weddings, since the flash really washes out your face. I love to cook and after working in the food industry while in college I always view painted nails as “dirty” since you can’t see if there is any dirt under them. Nail polish is not allowed when working with food commercially. I think the only “girly” thing I do is shave.

    My MIL gives me a lot of grief about it, but I don’t really care what she thinks.

  • leeanne May 16, 2011, 9:37 am

    I think it all depends on how you define your own worth. When I paint my toenails, it doesn’t determine my worth or my value, so it’s a-okay. On bad days, my hair looking flat or gross is something I’m using to determine my worth, which is wrong. I think that no matter what “society” says, the root of the issue is that we allow external things (and even some internal ones) to determine or provide our self-worth, and they can’t.

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me May 16, 2011, 9:46 am

    omg I begged my mom to shave my legs too. I thought I was soooo hairy and gross and I’m pretty sure someone commented on them. I’m off and on about my eyebrows because they’re so crazy light that it’s not a big deal. I do wear make-up everyday…otherwise my skin is too blotchy…SO yes I definitely partake in beauty rituals. It boosts my confidence. But after a sweaty workout at the gym and I’m all gross I think I still look good. LOL so I suppose it just depends on your emotions about it.

    BTW there is something seriously wrong with her mother. She should be getting investigated. That poor girl is going to have a very warped body image….not to mention the physical effects! She hasn’t even hit puberty!

  • Hannah Hawley May 16, 2011, 9:46 am

    A cousin of mine has CP, and had to have botox injections into her leg muscles. A nasty and awful procedure provided by a doctor. While helpful, it was also hell for her little body. I couldn’t imagine a parent going out of there way to get their hands on botox to inject into their daughters face at such a young age.

    As for my personal rituals. I go back and forth with shaving my legs. I tend to be a bit of a seasonal shaver, but I really like the way my legs feel when they are shaved. But I am also ok with walking around in shorts with hairy legs.
    I wear makeup and do my hair if I am going out, to a wedding, etc. Never for work or mundane life. I love my toe nails painted, I love the girly feel they give me. I like to paint my finger nails, but don’t keep up with it so they tend to get chipped so I don’t paint them that often.
    I did wax my eyebrows for the first time last night and I LOVE the way it makes my face look. It adds a whole new dimension without making, and really brings out my eyes. Think this might be a new keeper.

    I love your “no make up at GOTR” rule. What a great way to shwo you don’t need makeup to feel beautiful.

  • Jillian@ Reshape Your Life May 16, 2011, 9:57 am

    I definitely had the “shaving my legs” bug at an early age (probably around 5th grade) I remember it being pretty sudden and it was almost like I all of a sudden became aware that I had leg hair and I got self conscious, my mom however thought I was too young, and I went ahead and did it anyway (and sliced a chunk out of my leg). That said, I am very lax about it and I really don’t do it to “fit in” so to speak, I have been known to go weeks without shaving my legs.

    Makeup on the other hand started REALLY young, in 3rd grade I chopped off my hair and had a bit of a “boy” haircut and was actually mistaken for a boy one day by an elderly lady and it definitely struck me hard (I remember crying about it later that day). So for a few years I really tried to be a bit girlie, styling my hair and wearing earrings… Then it was about 6th grade that I kept trying to sneak into school with makeup on. My mom insisted I was too young and made me wait another year. And thankfully bought me a new eyeshadow that wasn’t bright blue to celebrate. 😉

    Growing up my mom has always (and still does to this day) tell me how beautiful I am when I don’t have makeup on, and will point out that I don’t need makeup to be beautiful, or how I’m MORE beautiful without makeup… As an adult I really appreciate her saying that now, and I know it made me feel differently about myself in such a positive way. I hope that is something I can pass on to my children.

  • becca (bellebottoms) May 16, 2011, 10:02 am

    I do engage in a lot of beauty rituals, like makeup, dying my hair, facials, manis/pedis, etc….I’ve always felt like I “needed” it in order to feel pretty…I’ve tried to step away from these little by little…like not doing my nails (just putting some clear polish on them perhaps), or not dying my hair as often. I also like to use the summertime as a “vacation” from makeup. I still wear it to the office, since I work in a corporate setting, and I feel it looks professional, but when I am not at work, I try to stay away from it. It helps that I get a lot of sun since I’m outside all the time, so having that natural glow is good enough!

  • Rachel @ Fit Fun and Fabulous May 16, 2011, 10:15 am

    If I’m running late, I’ll elect to skip makeup for the workday. I don’t feel like I am covering up when I wear makeup, but I do notice that I look more tired and less “put-together” when I don’t wear makeup which in turn makes me feel less professional in the work place. But other than that, I don’t feel too bad about it.

  • colleen May 16, 2011, 10:16 am

    I can’t even imagine giving my daughter – currently 2.5 – botox or even other ‘beauty’ treatments. I have to admit though, I thought about getting her ears pierced so people will know she is a girl – she has fine, thin hair that is taking its time to come in. Growing up I rarely wore make-up (no time) or tried several products to try to tame my naturally curly hair. I never felt pretty like the other girls. Luckily in college I realized that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have let my hair dry naturally – unless I want to spend the time I don’t have on straightening it- and wear no or only powder on my face. On rare occasions I wear a little more makeup but the husband loves the natural look. I have the same issue with my eyebrows, so I try to keep them in line. I will also paint my nails once or twice during the spring/summer to add a little color, but I don’t spend too much time on them. I remember begging my mom for earrings, so for my 12th birthday I got them. I college I got three more ‘holes in my ears’, but now I seldom wear earrings or necklaces (and I have a ton) – my wedding ring and watch is enough for me.

  • Ashley @ the fit academic May 16, 2011, 10:18 am

    I definitely engage in grooming rituals, but I’ve always preferred a “natural’ look, and groom myself accordingly. I never wear crazy makeup – I rarely even wear eye-shadow. I usually use a touch of concealer under my eyes and some mascara and I’m good to go. My beauty routine takes 5 minutes or less and I’m happy with that. Besides, I also think there is something to be said for taking care of oneself. I think it’s helpful mentally, ya know? It doesn’t have to be extreme – but taking some thought to put yourself together (in my opinion) makes a big difference in how you AND others view you.

  • Rachel May 16, 2011, 10:34 am

    I think this is an important discussion that women need to have more often. All of these grooming rituals add up to a lot of time and money spent on something that is purely superficial, which would be less galling to me if men were expected to spend half as much time and money on it. (There’ve been a number of studies on this.) When the words “self-respect” and “hygiene” come up in these discussions, I just hear “Women are inadequate/dirty in their natural state but men are not.”

    I do shave my legs when I know they will be exposed, but I acknowlege that this is almost entirely to avoid the harsh judgment people direct toward women who flout gender norms. Sure, on some level I like how smooth legs feel and look, but moreover I like how it feels to wear shorts when it’s hot out, and I know I’ll get stares if I do that without shaving.

    That’s the only grooming ritual I’ve ever been diligent about (though not in winter, and it never much affected my sex life). All other grooming habits were introduced slowly and very late because I wasn’t raised to prioritize my appearance so I didn’t. Being sort of weird that way has been a mixed bag, but mostly it demonstrated to me how subjective it all is. Lots of guys prefer a woman who doesn’t look painted or tweezed (perhaps because it’s unusual?), and plenty of guys don’t notice or care.

    Women notice and care. And they do try to police each other. I always just shrugged and cited my (truthful) lazy/cheap defense.

  • Amber May 16, 2011, 10:41 am

    I think the entire concept of a pageant is awful, let alone that horrible show! I have mixed emotions about beauty rituals. I think that wearing make up and shaving your legs do not need to be every day tasks. I am also perfectly fine with letting my hair air dry with hippy waves. On the other hand, some people let themselves go or never dress themselves up and it has a negative impact on their lives. I guess I’m thinking of a bunch of “What Not To Wear” episodes where the women are trying to advance their careers but they look like slobs who can’t bother to dress themselves up a little (or don’t have a clue how). The women on the show end up have complete self esteem makeovers as a result of their physical makeovers.

    I know I’m beautiful with or without make up, but sometimes being all dolled up just makes me feel so good!

  • Michelle May 16, 2011, 10:44 am

    I’m Greek and hairy. I pluck, I shave, I wax. I have brown spots on my face (melasma) that I cover up with makeup. Do I feel better about myself? Yes. I don’t necessarily think it’s society that makes me feel better either — I just feel “cleaner” and my features stand out more. Do I worry about it all the time? No.

    I also look at my beautiful 2 year old who has inherited my eyebrows and my skin type. I know that some day we will sit down and talk about all of these things. My mom prohibited me from doing anything — wearing makeup, shaving, etc until I was in my teens and it made me sneaky. I’d rather have an open relationship – talk about ways to make yourself look and feel NATURALLY beautiful.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enhancing your features. I DO think it’s OK to let a preteen year old play around with makeup and fashion. I want my daughter to be confident in herself. I DON’T think she should hide behind massive amounts of makeup or botox to do it though. There is a thin line and a very grey area. Everything in moderation!

  • Natalie May 16, 2011, 11:03 am

    I think my attitude is similar to yours Caitlin–I follow pretty much every “typical” grooming ritual–but I think I’m fairly laid-back and low-maintenance about it all, in the grand scheme of things.

    I didn’t start shaving my legs until middle school (age 11 or 12?), which is when everyone else did. I used to despise doing it because I had horribly sensitive skin–ingrown hairs, rashes, etc. I seem to have “outgrown” it a bit and now I give my legs and armpits a quick once-over wit the razor every time I shower. I do pluck my eyebrows, mostly because I’m pretty hairy–I think I would be far more lax about hair-removal if I had less of it, to be sure. I also wax my own upper lip, but definitely not as a routine…moreso when I remember to do it, haha. I also get Brazilian waxes, which both intrigued and horrified me for the longest time until I tried getting one. It’s painful but definitely manageable, and I do have to say, I feel sexier with everything looking nice and *neat* down there. Definitely a social construct of beauty that I’ve inadvertently bought into, but I figure its harmless and definitely as extreme as I’m every willing to go.

    I do wear makeup daily to the office, but I’m very low-key about it. Tinted moisturizer, a swipe of blush, and some mascara is a typical day for me, aka, one step above a totally bare face. On weekends I usually go sans makeup, though sometimes I’ll put on some tinted moisturizer if my skin is looking not so great (I’ve battled bad skin since I was a teen). I’ll get glammed up for a night out, and I LOVE bright lipsticks, eyeliner, etc…but it’s all for fun, and only occasionally.

    As for nails, I keep them neatly trimmed and shaped, but rarely wear nail polish (though I love it and own tons…I’m just too lazy to maintain it, since it always chips on me in 2 days, max). I do like to keep my toes polished during sandal season though. 🙂

  • Zoe LaPier May 16, 2011, 11:04 am

    e of my favorite ideas introduced by society (and quite frequently in HTP’s comment section) is the idea that women wearing makeup/shaving/tweezing to look “natural.” Being natural (no quotes) means having body hairs, dark circles under your eye, maybe a zit or two, hair on your legs and no paint on your nails. It is natural to not be our society’s definition of perfect.

    On another note, how many minutes do women spend every day trying to make themselves presentable and look “natural” – sixty, perhaps? Why on earth would we (as a group) spend 1/24 of our adult life putting on paint and removing hair from our bodies? If you assume that people spend 1/3 of their lives asleep then women (if they start this hour-long daily ritual at 20 and end it at 60 years-old will spend 2.5 YEARS of their life grooming. Just some numbers to ponder.

    I do partake in some of these female rituals…I have old paint on my toenails as I type this and I tweeze my eyebrows regularly. However, I refuse to get up early to put on makeup and wear foundation. I think self-grooming is a highly personal thing and we all must set our priorities. I just choose an extra 45 minutes of sleep over looking “natural.”

  • Carlee May 16, 2011, 11:06 am

    I have to admit. I love makeup. Its rare for me to go out without at least a little foundation, blush and mascara. I do shave my legs as well. But the thought of plastic surgery or injections just seems wrong to me. That is not to say I don’t love the idea of just filling in my wrinkles, sucking the fat out of my thighs and tucking my tummy but the reality is these things are scary. We have have self doubt but it is som important to love yourself the way you are and let nature takes its course.

  • Joanna@ Drizzle of Sunshine May 16, 2011, 11:08 am

    That video makes me sick. I am sad that parents feel the need to give their children beauty treatments so young in their lives. And shame on the doctor for allowing this.

    I am a teacher and just cringe when one of my young 6 year old students make comments like “I need to lose weight.” I had one whose mother sent her to school with eyeliner. Children should not be made to feel that they need to start those beauty rituals already. They are TOO young.

    I do partake in those beauty rituals myself but my mother forbade me to shave, pluck, paint, or wear makeup until I was in college. I resented her for it because I got made fun of for having hairy legs and sporting a stache. I snuck shaving my legs in high school because I just couldn’t take the taunting. I was not allowed to wear makeup for a very long time and my only wish is that my mother taught me to be confident. Til this day, I still struggle with that idea of being proud of how I look. I think it’s important for mothers and mother figures to teach their daughters how to feel confident without piling tons of makeup on. Enhancing your beauty is one thing, changing it all together is another.

    Great post and great discussions!

  • katie @ KatieDid May 16, 2011, 11:12 am

    Wow what a thought provoking post, well written! It really got me thinking about how culture and environment have a huge impact on my personal habits, i think more than what was displayed to me growing up. My mom and I were never super close so those kind of conversations didn’t happen much unfortunately. Now I am living in Vermont, and I know it seems like a stereotype but a LOT of students and people around me are more than okay with no makeup, natural hair, not shaving, and very basic and functional clothing.
    I love this environment and think it would be a really great place to raise a child because of all the natural beauty. I have a very quick ‘grooming’ routine which is very very basic, and in the winter I do even less (my legs pretty much never see the light of day for 7 months of the year haha). Although I do remember growing up and just having fun with experimenting with makeup, nail polish, etc. I think when its fun for the child, and hasn’t crossed the line of covering up insecurities, then its all good!

  • Brianna May 16, 2011, 11:31 am

    When I was younger I always begged my mom to let me shave my legs/fix my eyebrows, but she made me wait until I was at an appropriate age. I think it’s important to let young girls be aware of certain aspects of grooming at an appropriate age. The clip shown above, along with the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras, are both pretty scary for the self-esteem and self-images of the young girls growing up today. They are basically being told that in order to be beautiful they need to be flawless. This is the wrong idea and it’s being told to young girls every day through the media. I’m not completely innocent as I do take part in certain grooming rituals like shaving my legs, getting my eyebrows waxed, etc. but I rarely straighten my hair, wear makeup, or paint my nails. I’m also 21 years old, not 4 or 5. It’s really sad that young children are being exposed to these false ideas of beauty.

  • Heather May 16, 2011, 11:56 am

    I wax, shave, pluck, paint my nails, curl my hair, wear make-up….that sounds like a lot of effort. In university I once cut off ALL my hair (pretty much shaved my head) out of a sense of rebellion against traditional beauty ideals… it was an eye opening experience.

  • Hannah May 16, 2011, 12:26 pm

    I just read this this woman had her child taken away from her!! Here is the new article: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=8133200#&cmp=twi-kgo-article-8133200

  • Liz May 16, 2011, 12:53 pm

    How horrifying that her mother did that; scary and sad.

    I shave my legs and armpits when they get itchy, wash my face with water and moisturize with coconut oil, get pedicures when my feet really need some love, get my eyebrows waxed when I really notice the strays (usually twice a year) and generally wear my hair up in a pony tail or down and au natural. As far as make up, I’m terrible at applying it and it takes too long in the morning so I wear it maybe once a month (probably less) when we go out with friends and a girlfriend does it for me, which is fun, makes me feel special for the night, and then is gone the next day.

    I agree that girls just need to be aware of why they are doing certain things as they get older; make up should be used an expression of self, not because you’re trying to hide something, etc etc.

  • Renée May 16, 2011, 12:54 pm

    I don’t really do much of any female beauty rituals. I consider myself to be generally androgynous and while I shave my legs and before they get too bad, or if I’m wearing something which reveals them (which seldom happens), I’m pretty quick to ignore any societal norms of what a woman should be. My hair’s always a tangled mess (not because I don’t brush it, it’s just how I like it) and I like my eyebrows to be somewhat thick. I won’t stay indoors if I’m not wearing make-up, but I agree it’s fun sometimes! And I don’t really give a damn about fashion, I wear what’s comfortable and I pick my shirts by length, not by design. It’s amazing how people treat me now compared to when I had blonde extensions and make-up on at all times. Thankfully it doesn’t bother me, but it confirms society’s judgment upon the “nontraditional females” and it concerns me for those who feel the need to buy into all that crap to gain approval from others :\

  • Marge May 16, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Caitlin, you may as well been telling my story about how I started shaving my legs and plucking my eyebrows. The funny thing is that I now barely do either. I swear, I was more concerned about my eyebrows, legs and makeup in eighth grade than I do now. I used to wear under eye concealer then! I haven’t touched the stuff in over ten years now.

    I hope this does not come off as mean spirited, but does anyone else not find it some kind of ironic that the mother’s face in the GMA segment clearly does not move? So much so, that it makes her much more unattractive. Mean to say, but shouldn’t a beauty treatment, especially one that really has not been properly assessed for its long term risks, make you, well, prettier?

    I’m horrible.

  • Gretchen May 16, 2011, 1:13 pm


    Obviously the woman that is injecting her young child with botox has issues.

    I’m in my 40’s and I love being able to change up my whole appearance by doing my make-up differently or changing up my hairstyle. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. I also don’t think that women that do wear make-up daily necessarily have issues with self esteem. It is part of my daily routine to put on a little make-up. I will also go as far as to say that I can’t honestly say that as I age I wouldn’t at some point consider any professional cosmetic enhancements such as botox or what not…never say never. When I was in my teens and early 20’s if I had been asked would I ever have cosmetic surgery I would have said absolutely not. Then I had children. I had always been athletic and kept in good shape…pregnancy and nursing babies left me with body image issues that totally effected my self esteem…. While I was still in my 20’s with a fit body , I had the breasts of an elderly woman. I was always a fit size 4/6 with a 32C chest however I blossomed to an enormous 38FF while nursing. Afterwards, everything snapped back into shape but my chest. And while some women would be able to embrace that as a badge of honor it took a huge toll on my self esteem. I believe if there is something that bothers you so much to the point that it does have a negative effect on your self esteem why not fix it? I did and it was the best “gift” I’ve ever given myself. Caitlin, I applaud you for all the good you do in promoting positive self esteem. Enjoy your vacation…Also, I have attached a link to something I saw earlier today that did bother me…Sketcher Shape Up shoes marketed to young girls …crazy.

  • RhodeyGirl May 16, 2011, 1:21 pm

    I definitely don’t shave my legs enough, but that’s just because I’m lazy. if it’s winter, chances are my legs are fuzzy.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with grooming- painting nails, waxing, tweezing, applying a little makeup. It is important to feel beautiful and for most women that is what it takes. I feel the same way about how I dress. I might dress horribly at home, but when I leave my house I *always* want to look put together, clean, and nice. It makes me feel good about myself and I feel like I am presenting the best me.

    My mom didn’t let me shave my legs either, and I took to wearing long leggings and scrunch socks pulled up high until she finally gave in and let me Nair my leg hair. And while she didn’t let me shave for a long time, she also made me dress up for school every single day. I didn’t even own jeans until the end of high school.

  • Michelle (your girlfriend for fitness) May 16, 2011, 1:38 pm

    I do all the girly stuff and typical grooming rituals. I actually hate body hair for the most part — on me personally (I don’t care what others do, I think it is a personal choice), but I do let my leg hair grow during the winter and the bf actually prefers it that way so he gets his way for a couple of months.

    I usually don’t wear make-up and if I do it is very minimal and mostly just to even out my natural complexion. I never want to feel like I have to wear make-up, or that you are not looking at the real me.

  • Caileigh May 16, 2011, 2:03 pm

    the episode of the Doctors on today is about ‘extreme beauty trends’, made me think of you. You might want to check it out when you get home from vacation!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy May 16, 2011, 3:32 pm

    I remember feeling the same way about my legs and eyebrows! I had the thin eyebrows too until my mom intervened. 🙂 I don’t wear much makeup at all. I think my eyelashes would look better with black mascara but I really don’t want to “go there.” So I go natural! I wear very little eyeshadow (very light) a little pressed powder (neutral–no color just hides shine!) and under eye concealer because I don’t like the dark circles under my eyes. I don’t wear lipstick. Just a choice. I am not big on feeling “fake” so I try to wear what feels more natural. I only paint my toes, but I’ve been known to go without polish and sometimes I run to the store without makeup! When I was in high school I thought I had to wear lots of makeup and this and that and fit into some ideal. I gave that up quickly when I went to college and have stuck with doing what I want ever since. It’s the best way to be!

  • Sonia (the Mexigarian) May 16, 2011, 4:01 pm

    I pluck my eyebrows because they look horrible when bushed out. I hardly ever wear makeup unless I need to dress up for something like my highschool reunion and my friends up coming wedding. my mascara is so old and hardly ever used it sealed shut!
    i also shaved my legs for the first time in 6 months. hated it. once the wedding season is over those leg hears are growing back out 🙂
    sometimes i feel like i should know and do certain beauty rituals, but at my core, i simply just don’t care.

  • Dory May 16, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Im very glad you posted this. I think your idea to not wear make up to GOTR is brilliant. Growing up I was a cheerleader, make up was a requirement so that your face was still distinguishable under the bright lights. That stigma stayed with me a long time and I felt I had to wear make up daily. I’ve grown away from this. I am comfortable in my skin and felt make up was bothering my skin a lot. I still wear it, but more for special occasions. I also dont paint my nails, I love a pedicure, but my nail polish gets beat up so quickly from running, its just not worth it. I’ve really spent a lot of time thinking about this topic personally, but as a society I dont think it has been questioned enough.

    Thank you for posting something that really gets us thinking about our beauty rituals and why we do them!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit May 16, 2011, 4:22 pm

    Great post. I stopped shaving my legs a few years ago after a 12-day camping trip and haven’t thought twice about it! My leg hair isn’t that noticeable though, and I wonder if I would shave if my leg hair was darker and more noticeable. I’ve pared down my daily makeup routine to simply using mascara, and I got rid of my concealer. I’m also trying to use less chemicals (and ideally none at all) on my body in general, so I’ve switched to a natural face cleanser. It’s too bad women feel the need to use all of these products to feel beautiful and in turn are succombing to being controlled as consumers. 🙁

  • Bella May 16, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this!!

    I am in the 8th grade and feel *soooooo* much pressure to wear makeup, do my eyebrows, shave my legs, and always make sure my hair is perfectly straight. I do not do any of those things, as hard as it may be sometimes. My outfits aren’t always perfectly laid out like the rest of the school but I think that’s perfectly wonderful! I feel much more gorgeous when I am separate and stand out. I just started shaving (because I don’t want to be called a monkey) but am not going to during the summer! When I have tried to wear makeup it ends up looking ugly! I have naturally curl hair so I do put some product in it to bring it out more.
    I think that the little girl needs to know about the teenage girls and women who don’t wear makeup and all the other fixins! We are made beautiful!

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good May 16, 2011, 6:36 pm

    I’m pretty low-maintenance, I think. I do shave my legs and armpits. I wear make-up sometimes, nail polish sometimes. I don’t feel I need to do those things to be presentable, but sometimes I just like to.

    I think botox is questionable, even for adults. Why would we choose to inject botulism into our bodies, especially when it’s just for cosmetic reasons?

    I have an 8 year old daughter, and sometimes we will do nail polish together for fun. We haven’t gotten into leg hair or eyebrows yet. I do want to let her be a little girl and not rush her into growing up.

    I have seen some dance groups for young girls that have the girls wearing heavy make-up and doing what I considered suggestive dance moves. I wouldn’t want my little girl involved in an activity that pushed her to appear and behave much older than she is like that.

  • elaine! May 16, 2011, 7:27 pm

    I specifically never got into makeup because I saw what it did to my mom’s self-esteem when she got a job that required makeup as part of the female dress code (it was an insurance office). It got to the point where she didn’t want to leave the house until she had makeup on. So now I only wear makeup for special occasions or for fun.

    I remember when I asked my mom about shaving my legs, she told me that I should probably wait, because when you start, you feel like you have to shave all the time, and it gets exhausting. 😉 My slightly younger friend was incredibly jealous when I was allowed to shave my legs and she wasn’t. I never understood that, because she was really pretty and I was just a nerd with no fashion sense, lol.

    These days I have someone who knows what she’s doing wax my brows once a month. Best $18 ever because it keeps me from looking like my brothers, lol. And I get regular haircuts. Otherwise I shave my legs/pits only when I know they’ll be out in public, and paint my nails only when I feel like it (which is rarely), even though I do keep my nails clean and short.

  • Amanda May 16, 2011, 8:09 pm

    That story made me sooooo mad….. despicable.

  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner May 16, 2011, 8:37 pm

    I remembered being made fun of in 4th grade because I had armpit hair. My parents were gone one night, so I tried to figure out ways to cover it up without actually shaving them. My mom came home and caught me using her foundation in order to cover it up and then taught me how to shave my armpits. The next year, I BEGGED her to let me shave my legs since all my friends were already doing that. It took a lot of convincing, but she finally let me do it (with an electric razor). I do follow most female grooming rituals to this day – I shave my legs almost daily (every other day in the winter), armpits daily, I pluck my eyebrows (which I got made fun of BY A TEACHER in 6th grade) and other facial hair, and put up makeup pretty much daily. When I was in high school, I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup. But, I have gotten to the point where I don’t need it nearly as much and actually hardly wear it in the summer. I am still very self-conscious when I don’t wear it, but I just remind myself that THAT is the TRUE me. The people who see me without makeup love me regardless – and I actually think I look my best after a workout, sweaty, and makeup-less. I hope that if I do have a daughter that I will teach her to love herself just the way she is and doesn’t need to hide her beauty with makeup.

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) May 17, 2011, 12:57 am

    That is SO horrible, and abusive.

    I pluck by eyebrows and shave, and that is about it.

  • T Wiseman May 17, 2011, 6:48 am

    When i was younger i got teased for wearing shorts and having “gorilla” legs when i moved to a new school. i haven’t worn shorts sense. i think i did once, for gym when i forgot my sweat pants. that was when i was like 9 I’m 21 now and I am still not comfortable with wearing shorts, i feel like everyone is judging me. i dint even feel comfortable wearing shorts around my boyfriend for 4 years.
    being young and being made fun of for something so natural as the sky being blue is not nice and is very damaging, so i can see where the mom is coming from when she says her daughter was being made fun of, but using botox? on a child is disgusting, that child has a beautiful smile and her mother should be encouraging her to think that she IS beautiful because she IS and that she do not need any of this to make her beautiful.

    but as for a beauty ritual i shave and pluck my eyebrows (i too looked like i had weird eyebrows all threw middle school, but my mother didn’t come to my rescue, she just kept on telling me i looked all right till, one summer i let them grow out and did them right myself, i wear eyeliner when going out and that’s about it.

  • Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf May 17, 2011, 12:10 pm

    I shave, pluck, wax, paint, and wear makeup. Pretty much all of the basics. A lot of it, particularly the shaving, I wanted to do because it made me feel more “grown up” and “taking care of myself.” I didn’t paint my nails much growing up, but when I did, it was a form of creative expression, as it is now.

    Makeup though was a different story. I mean, I had a really girly, almost “vain” stage where I was preoccupied with looking as good as possible, but I was also very insecure. I started getting bad acne in elementary school and was eager to not go anywhere without makeup on. My mom let me wear makeup and start shaving my legs beginning with my 12th birthday, but she still had rules that I wasn’t allowed to wear eyeliner or lipliner “until I was older.”

    These days I’m more relaxed about a lot of my “rituals.” I shave my legs only occasionally and don’t freak out if other people notice I’m prickly. Most other body hair, eyebrows, etc. I like to keep “under control,” but I don’t stress out about it. I do shave my underarms about once a week, but for me that’s a hygiene thing.

    As for makeup, it’s still something I’m working on. I wear significantly less than I used to, and I do occasionally go without (rarely, though). I’ve also simplified my product usage and don’t spend two hours getting ready in the morning. It may just be that I’m 22 and my skin is calming down, but I feel more secure in my skin these days.

    That being said, I’ve picked up a few more minor beauty habits lately simply because in recent years I’ve gotten “sloppy,” and I really look it sometimes. I guess throwing my hair up in a messy knot and donning a ripped Harley Davidson tshirt to go out running errands is TOO casual. 😉

  • Mary @ stylefyles May 17, 2011, 2:17 pm

    I agree SO much with your decision to not wear makeup to GOTR. I remember going to a team party with the soccer girls I coached when I was in college. At the time I never wore makeup (now I wear it occasionally). I still straightened my hair, dressed well and looked girly….all without makeup. I remember being surprised to see the 10 and 11 year olds wearing makeup, and I told them they didn’t need it. My mother never wore makeup, and me and my sisters mostly followed suit. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to wear it but I DO remember telling my parents in middle school that I wanted to wear makeup (since so many of my friends were starting to wear it). My dad told me once you start wearing it, you’ll never feel pretty without it. That really stuck and encouraged me to stay away….and at the end of the day, it’s SO true. Why do women need to wear it when men don’t? And we still think men look good, right? We’re creatures of habit – once we start a process, it becomes habit and a needed practice.

    My starting to shave my legs story is pretty sad, actually….I’ll save that one for a later day. In short, I feel so blessed to have had such amazing parents.

  • Rosi May 17, 2011, 10:18 pm

    I’ve never been heavy into doing my makeup. I will sometimes do it for special occasions or if I’m going out.
    I am totally that girl who forgets/doesn’t care to shave my legs, throws my unruly hair into a twist on the daily and only does her nails when she remembers to… but, sometimes I enjoy pedicures, straightening my hair and putting on makeup. It’s just not something I obsess over.
    I suppose I can thank my momma for that. She was never the “high maintenance” type and never put a huge amount of emphasis on the “doing girly things to look pretty” bit.

    That being said, I had an insane amount of insecurities when I first had to deal with a bout of eczema.
    I had such problems with my skin that I couldn’t shave and had bad open sores on my legs and torso. I stopped wearing shorts, dresses and refused to swim in the summer for 3 years because I was so conscious of it. Even after it healed, I still had scarring.
    When I would go and get pedicures (which I pretty much stopped doing unless a friend reaaaally wanted to), I would constantly worry about what the girls at the shop would think of my unshaven legs.
    I guess it just went to show how much I really did worry about how people saw me.
    I’m slowly starting to not worry so much about it, but I can’t say I’m completely immune to the views of the world on beauty issues.

  • eliza May 19, 2011, 12:59 am

    Has anyone ever watched the American child pageant shows? I can definately see mothers on their doing this kind of thing.

    Great post- personally, I do all this stuff for me, I like feeling ‘neat’ and can’t stand not shaving my legs..

    However, I have noticed that when I don’t do makeup/my hair, people ask if I am tired or sick.

  • Amber K May 19, 2011, 10:36 am

    I know shaving my legs started out as a way to fit in, because everyone else was doing it! But now I do it because I very much prefer the feeling of shaved legs. If I go to long without doing it, I feel dirty. I’m totally saddened by that mom, and I hope child services actually do something about it.

  • Dee May 19, 2011, 2:15 pm

    I am always late to the comment party, but I really enjoyed this post and the comments. It’s something I’ve thought alot about because I am one of the few that doesn’t “mind the beauty rules” most of the time, and I have gotten alot of feedback about it. For some lucky reason I’ve never been teased or confronted in a negative way, but I’ve had friends PLEAD with me to look a certain way before I leave the house. I flatly refuse. Like you told and modeled for your girls, I don’t believe in tying my sense of confidence to looking a certain way. I don’t mind dressing up on occasion, but I don’t want to get to the point where I’m not comfortable with “plain” me.

    Part of this is personality and really, my own mother who did not put alot of emphasis on looks, hers or mine. And I remember babysitting for this wonderful lady, so sweet and pretty, who told me how embarrased she was to have left the house without any make up on. She said she looked hideous and was afraid she’d run into someone she knew. I remember thinking that it was so sad that she felt this way. I said to myself I wouldn’t wear makeup daily because I recognized that it would be possible to become uncomfortable with my own face, and for others around me to dislike my natural face if I always wore makeup.

    Anyway, this is an interesting, important, and complicated topic. It really isn’t easy to just opt-out.

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