One of the things I’m figuring out is that I can teach about a topic before my children use the information. (Remember Jesus’ time-released teaching?) My girls aren’t begging to wear makeup, but they’re interested in talking about it. They don’t shop for their own clothes, but they like talking about what they like and why. Here are some things I’ve been learning and trying as I seek to become a fashion ally of my daughters.
- Sharing a bathroom at our new house has been an unexpected blessing. My girls watch me put on makeup, and ask lots of questions. In our old house, I put on makeup in the master bathroom, and they never saw what I did. I can see that just being visible has been helpful and given us lots of opportunities to talk about makeup.
- For awhile, Bethel thought I was opposed to even looking at makeup. She was shocked when I suggested that we go look at makeup at the store together. We looked at nail polish colors, mascara brushes, laughed at the funny names of the colors. Again this activity gave us things to talk about. The progression is instructive: after I brought up the topic, she has expressed interest. I’m paying attention to this progression in other areas, too.
- (Please understand, gentle reader, that I don’t really like talking about makeup. I rarely shop for makeup, and I have to work at even being faithful to put it on! But if I want to become my daughter’s ally for fashion, talking about makeup is on the agenda.)
- I’ve also taken the time to look at pictures of certain fashion trends with Bethel. I’ve done google searches for peplums, scarves, and dresses with her in the last couple of months. I’ve discovered the website polyvore.com, which is another way to search colors and styles of clothing. Since I do a lot of online shopping, Bethel wants to know why I like one kind of dress and not another. I’m sometimes at a loss to explain things, but I’m trying to be faithful to talk about what I do know.
- And since there’s a lot I don’t know, I’ve been rereading the fashion books I know about, and looking at new ones, both to educate myself, and to provide reading material for my daughters. I want to be a resource, and that means getting some books ahead of time, a little before they are needed and before they go looking elsewhere for a fashion ally.
- I’m not yet ready to show her old What Not to Wear episodes (both the British and the American Versions), but I’ve watched several on youtube, and I think these can be a conversation starter, too. It’s a lot easier to learn and talk about modesty in a third person than it is to hear the critique of your mother about what you are wearing or want to wear. I have the book What Not to Wear, more for my benefit than my girls. The difficulty of the shows and the book is that young girls have a hard time separating an outfit into parts– the neckline is appropriate even though its too clingy– the skirt is too short but i love the color– i wouldn’t wear it, but it is flattering to her shape– At some point she will learn not to think that when I point out a part I like that I like the whole thing. That’s when these videos may be appropriate in moderation.
- I’m not ready for Bethel to start putting on makeup. We’ve said 13 is the age to start with blush and mascara, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to her trying it out at home. (I haven’t told her that yet!)
- Bethel received a nail art kit for Christmas (My recommendation to her teenage cousin who was looking for gift ideas.) Today I let her give me a pedicure. She’s experimenting, and nobody will mistake my nails for the exquisite nail art at the local Cocok’s salon here in Okinawa, but again, my goal is to become a resource, an ally. She loved it.
- I’m not a nail polish fan. I don’t like to wear it. I have always been opposed to my girls’ wearing it (at least certain shades). And yet, I’ve recently been rethinking my position. Nail polish is an easy, non permanent way for girls to experiment with fashion, be a little daring, and grow up just a little bit independent from mom’s opinion. I don’t care for green or teal on hands, but they do. In matters of taste, I want them to develop their own opinion. I want it robust enough to withstand questions or criticism from their friends or acquaintances. In this context, nail polish is an easy yes.
- Lastly, I’ve been looking for books that are helpful. I recently downloaded Bobbi Brown’s Beauty Rules. I saw her books awhile back, but in light of our recent makeup discussions I thought my girls would enjoy it. Since I’m not really great with makeup (I like to keep things simple), I’ve really appreciated her advice and approach to teenage makeup. Brown doesn’t use celebrity examples, but instead uses normal, everyday teenagers, and shows before and after pictures. I liked it so well, I bought a hard copy.
- I’ve also picked up a new copy of Pocket Stylist (and her book on Fashion over 40 for me!). I like this author because of her emphasis on developing your own style instead of being a slave to what is in style, and what everyone else is wearing. That a really important concept for our Christian teenagers to understand. Not everything in the book is practical, but the overall tone is great and I can ignore what doesn’t work for my situation. Bethel’s not yet ready for this book, but I wanted to have it on the bookshelf ahead of time. I’m becoming her ally, so I want a few resources at my fingertips.
- The Care and Keeping of You has great tone, and is really a good resource for the basics. This has been a great book already for bringing questions out in the open for discussion. I’ve not yet found a boy equivalent, but this one is good.
- I’ve also pulled out my sewing machines. I have a decent one, but I’ve never been inclined to learn to sew. I’m figuring out that for me at least, learning to sew is going to be a way to have some control of getting the combination of beautiful and modest clothing that my daughters love and want to wear.
- I’ve been praying! I want her to have a pure heart, and I want her attention to fashion and her appearance to be in balance with everything else in her life.
- Remember, I don’t think it matters so much WHAT I do as much as THAT I’m bringing up the topics, capitalizing on the interest and willingness to learn, and stretching myself. Of course, some mamas don’t need to care more about fashion. Perhaps their struggle will run in a different direction, or perhaps they simply need to be talking about why they do what they do, instead of just doing it marvelously. Perhaps mamas who have a strong fashion sense will have a harder time allowing their daughters to develop their individual style. I don’t know.
That’s enough from me. What are YOU doing to become your daughter’s fashion ally?