dress-up · physical appearance · raising strong girls · self-esteem · slice of life

My 5 year-old was makeupless for her dance recital. #sol16

Isabelle’s first dance recital took place last night. If you’ve talked to me lately (or read this blog post I wrote in March), then you know I haven’t been that excited about the recital. Some of my lack of enthusiasm had to do with the emphasis on performance rather than acquisition of discernable ballet and tap skills. Some of my lack of enthusiasm surrounded the fact that the rehearsal and recital went beyond Isabelle’s bedtime. And some of my lack of enthusiasm revolved around the idea of five-year-olds being requested to wear makeup.
So, about the makeup. If you read my March post, you might remember makeup was encouraged, but not required for preschool dancers. Seeing as it was optional, I opted not to put any on Isabelle. I figured I’d cave and allow her to wear lipstick if she really wanted to wear makeup because her peers were. In reality, I felt strongly that she didn’t wear it since she’s only five. (Believe me, I have nothing against makeup. I’m rarely out without it. I just don’t think it is for little girls.)
Isabelle either didn’t care or didn’t notice she was the only kid in her dance class without makeup. None of the other moms questioned me about it. (Note: We changed to a different class in early April.) And you know what? When asked, my husband said Isabelle’s lack of makeup didn’t make a lick of difference to him sitting in the audience. He was able to see her face the same as every other kid in her class.  (I was back stage so I was able to see all of the girls exactly the same.) 
I’m feeling slightly triumphant now about the makeup thing. But despite all of my disdain for everything that revolved around the recital (which also included the fact that the preschoolers’ moms were required to stay backstage rather than being allowed to watch the performance from the audience), I am pleased Isabelle had the courage to get up on stage, in front of hundreds of people, to perform without stage freight. That is a huge accomplishment! 

End of the tap routine.

18 thoughts on “My 5 year-old was makeupless for her dance recital. #sol16

  1. Stacey, I admire your ability to identify and stand up for the boundaries you feel important for your family. It takes guts to question status quo policies. But doing so is an incredibly important life lesson we can make for our children. Our personal values are what make us unique-give us a compass in a world that would have us conform without question and is quick to vilify us if we we do.

    Modeling how to take your own personal path while respecting when the choices of others differ-helps our children find their own strength in deciding who they are in the world. It helps them navigate the intense pressures to go with the flow.

    Your choice may get others to really considering the policy more closely. But even if not, Isabelle -though she may not yet be aware, is being parented. She is growing up understanding what it means to be a member of her family, and who she will be.

    I was not always as courageous as a parent as I wished I had been.

    1. I’m sure other moms may have wondered why my kid wasn’t wearing makeup. While no one questioned me, it is my hope that at least one mom silently considered whether or not it was really necessary.

  2. What you are teaching your daughter is priceless. Makeup on 5-year-olds seems perverse, if not simply odd. Their beauty shines through with no need of ‘enhancements’. How wise of you to take this stand.

    1. You are so right. They’re adorable kids. One spent hours in rollers while others needed hot curling irons to get their hair right. I wish there was more of a “come as you are because you are enough mentality.” Unfortunately, some of these girls had enough makeup to be in a pageant.

  3. I love that your daughter didn’t wear makeup. No five year old should. We need to teach our kids that beauty comes from within. Kudos to you for not buckling under.

    1. They should be. Not to sound like a Debbie Downer, but this one seemed more focused on the external appearance than on the skills. (At least for the little kids.)

  4. I went to a dance recital this weekend and it was lovely. Kids designed the sets, chose costumes (which were very appropriate) and it did not focus on hair or makeup at all. It was so refreshing– it really was about the dance. That being said… I danced tap and jazz. Wore makeup, did hair and the whole bit…. it’s about balance in the end which you give her every day!! Enjoy!

  5. Kids on stage are cute anyway, why would make up be necessary? I like that in dance sport the dancers are not allowed to wear any make up until a certain age (Junior 2 I believe.) Kids look natural. Your decision to stay true to what you believe to be right is admirable. I like how your daughter and everyone else made no big deal about it.

  6. I feel the same way about this stuff, Stacey. Thankfully, Maddie’s dance recital required only a bun in the hair and make-up was optional. (Maddie wore only clear lip gloss.)

    When we were younger, my mom wanted to buy us patent leather shoes at whatever young age we were. My grandpa told her, “That’s silly. They have their whole lives to wear patent leather shoes.” That’s my motto about make-up, too. They have their whole lives to wear it… why start now? Let them be the beautiful children they are.

    Isabelle looked lovely, and I hope she enjoyed being on stage!

  7. I agree! Too many little girls are caked in makeup for dance and cheer. It’s not natural and in a way tells them they need makeup to be pretty. Good on ya for resisting it and doing what you feel is right!

  8. Yay for you for holding to your beliefs and for keeping the whole experience more childlike. Plenty of time for grown up stuff like makeup later in life!

  9. It takes courage to get up and perform. Good for her. Focusing on the dance. the costumes, and the performance is surely enough for a preschooler! Glad she stepped up and showed the world.

    1. And that’s what I wanted to stress to her after the night was over! Because getting up on stage in front of hundreds of people to perform is an amazing accomplishment.

  10. I totally agree with you and what you wrote ” I haven’t been that excited about the recital. Some of my lack of enthusiasm had to do with the emphasis on performance rather than acquisition of discernable ballet and tap skills. Some of my lack of enthusiasm … And some of my lack of enthusiasm revolved around the idea of five-year-olds being requested to wear makeup.” I have 3 daughters, now ages 35, 33 and 30. When they were small, I put them in dancing schools with recitals, but felt like you did, not enthusiastic to say the least. There didn’t seem to be any other choice.Then I searched around and found a school that didnt’ have a recitcal. I was estatic! The owner was one of the dancers in the movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton) so I knew she was competent!

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