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One day I will look back at how challenging I find parenting my daughter and laugh: That's a rhetorical statement by the way, in case anyone feels the need to tell me I'm delusional.

My latest internal struggle has been with Esme's three-month campaign to get some makeup of her very own. My struggles are twofold;

Struggle The First - Is it Appropriate for a Five Year Old to Wear Makeup?

I'm a product of society, just like everyone else. For every conscious thought, I have my share of programmed reactions that say that makeup on young children is wrong: Why are you in such a hurry to look older? Why pick makeup as your form of expression with its connotations of sexuality?

And while I'm normally someone who respects my gut reactions, in this case, they were wrong. They were wrong because they weren't my own, they were a subtle learned misogyny.

I've always said that I would defend the rights of women to wear to wear revealing clothes and not be assaulted. I've spoken out about fat shaming, and slut shaming, and mansplaining, and yet ... and yet. Somehow when it was my five-year-old daughter wanting to wear makeup, it was different.       

How hypocritical of me to find some of her expression positive, and to judge this one. When she wanted a skateboard, I cheered her on. When she begged me for a ride on my bike, I was excited. When she got excited about something that leaves me cold, it took me months to get behind her.

I could hide behind the fact that it was a simple case of not having that shared passion to spark my enthusiasm, but it was more than that. It disappointed me to have Esme excited by something so stereotypical, and worse, a symbol of other people's expectations of female beauty.

But the subversion of a tradition can be an exciting thing, and while I'm sure Esme was blissfully unaware of my motives as we picked out her first items of war paint, there was a small part of me that enjoyed sticking two fingers at the traditional ideals of what makeup means and who should be allowed to use it.

Unfortunately, once the thrill of subversion had worn off, I was left with another issue.

Struggle The Second - She Looks Like a Clown

I know that everyone has to start somewhere, and I fully accept that I'm no makeup expert, but even I don't strut around looking like a drag queen coming off a three-day binge. Despite me finding Esme several videos on how to apply her new makeup, she continues to ¨experiment¨. 

I'm not against experimenting, as a concept. 

Some of the finest musicians have created new and exciting genres of music by experimenting. But if you look at the greats of jazz, for example, they always mastered the rules before they started bending them. If they hadn't, they would have sounded like a rhino sitting on a keyboard in much the same way that Esme currently looks like she's lost a stand-up row with a glitterball.

On one hand who cares? She's having fun and if nothing else she's got her ¨zombie face" nailed should the likes of Walking Dead ever need to cast the role of Small Antipodean Rage Zombie.

But then there's the other hand. The one where I have no poker face to speak of, and where Esme comes bounding up to me with lipstick smeared all up her nose and eye shadow all down her cheeks and asks me with the hope-filled eyes how her makeup looks. The one where I have to find that razor thin line between honesty and kindness, between integrity and encouragement. The one where I rue the day I ever gave her access to YouTube.

P.S. I just wanted to preserve for posterity that Esme is not standing against that part of the wall by accident. Nothing ruins an ¨edgy urban photo¨ like your daughter being photobombed by an enormous graffiti penis! 

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