March 8, 2017
In celebration of a Day Without Women, I want to share with you a photo of my son from a few days ago. While it may seem antithetical to the day to celebrate a picture of a boy, let me explain: I think we’re doing something right.
After his evening shower, my nine-year-old son asked me, in the same voice he might use to ask for more juice, “Will you put some makeup on me?”
Hoping he didn’t notice the quick beat I took to process the request, I said, “Sure.”
And we ventured into my bathroom, where we opened my makeup drawer and examined the treasure of colors, creams and brushes.
“What would you like to do?” I asked him.
First, he took my red lip pencil and asked me how to apply it. I showed him how to trace from the inside of the top lip, starting at the center and going to the corners. Then the bottom, same way, then color a bit in before pursing his lips to spread the color evenly around, and then gently blotting with a tissue. He smiled.
“Wow” he said, “What’s next?”
“How about some blush?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said, “but you do it.”
So, I sat him on the edge of the tub and I applied pink powder to the apples of his cheeks, sweeping back along the cheekbone toward the ear. First one cheek, then the other.
“How about some eye shadow?” I asked, pulling out my large palette of Urban Decay colors he and his brother had given me for Christmas last year.
“Which one do YOU wear?” he asked.
“The dark grey,” I said, “for a smoky look.”
“Dark grey, then,” he said.
So, I told him to shut his eyes, and I swept the dark powder onto his lids until both were lightly covered. Then I finished with a light touch of clear mascara, since his lashes are already dark and long, unlike mine.
Next, he asked to look in the mirror, first with glasses on, then with them off.
“Wow,” he said. “I look so bright! I feel so alive!”
I laughed. “Why do you think Momma does it?” I asked him. “It makes me feel alive, too, most days.”
“Take my picture!” he demanded, “and send it to Daddy and Nana and the whole family.”
And, marveling at his complete lack of self-consciousness, his complete lack of anything remotely resembling shame or insecurity, I resisted the urge to dissuade him, and I texted the photo to the Whole Family.
My husband, born of culture that is stereotyped machismo, but raised by all women, said “He looks good!”
Other family members chimed in with “Cool!” “Way to go!” and “Handsome Dude!”
I realize wearing makeup is the least feminist thing I could share or relay to my boys. In fact, I get that it’s completely at odds with it. However, at the same time, I am floored at this whole exchange. This could not likely have happened 10 years ago, in quite the same way.
My son lives in a world where he doesn’t know to think that emulating a woman could be a cause for shame. He does not think that “wanting to feel like a girl is degrading,” as Madonna pointed out in her 2006 song “What it Feels Like For A Girl.”