Mirror Mirror

MirrorMirror1OK, so there are a few things that let you know that yes, you have grown old. One is that you realize that the newly born infants of 2000 are now in their second year of secondary school and it horrifies you a little. Another is that you start to compare yourself to younger kids and to think/ say things like “in my day…”.

 Like what happened a few weeks ago, when I found my little cousin Noni (age 5) playing with foundation: smearing it unevenly on her face and cheeks. It was hilarious and adorable. And as I helped her to clean it off I wasn’t sure what to say, in between laughing at how adorbs it was and wanting to lecture her on why makeup was amazing and fun but there’s also this ugly underside you need to know of and you don’t really need foundation or any kind of makeup and… (her eyes had glazed over at this point.


Thing is, in my day, ie back when I was five, I don’t even think I knew that a thing such as foundation existed. Not actively anyway, although I guess I might have known of it vaguely. “Pretty-fication” was a rather limited concept that comprised mostly eyeliner and my mom’s dark red lipstick, and eyeshadow and blush for weddings and special occasions. Sometimes on Sundays my little sister and I would ask our mom if we could put on her lipstick on as we were getting ready for church, and she would humor us, only dabbing a thin layer on our lips, just enough for a hint of color. When I visited an aunt with more makeup, I would go crazy, diving into their boxes of eyeshadow and eyepencil and painting on my face with glee, much like Noni I suppose. In fact, when we would take trips out to Kitengela to visit my favorite uncle and aunt, I would be found in one of two places: or curled up on the sisal chair in my Uncle’s library of leather bounded issues of his favorite magazines, or at my aunt’s makeup box.
As I grew older, I started to discover this other side of pretty-fication that I’d never really known of: a world with brand names and bronzer and primers and Kim Kardashian’s contouring tricks and let’s not even get into Kylie Jenner’s lips. In college I would watch, fascinated, as a friend who had been doing this much longer went through a six or seven step process to come up with the perfect cat eye for a night out.
So back to Noni: am I just overthinking this? Or should I maybe be introducing her to the poetry of Warsan Shire and to the words of Chimamanda Adichie and Lupita Nyong’o, so that she can have an understanding of the complexity of prettyfication? Is 5 too young for this? is there, somewhere out there, a version of like, (Intersectional) Feminism for Toddlers?

Freaking out unecessarily?