From Pre-Teen to Beauty Queen

Jacqui Manning, Staff Writer


I remember the first time I wore makeup. It was 2009 and I wanted to wear eyeliner to my seventh grade dance. I was 12 years old.

I took a deep breath, walked into my mom’s bathroom while she was getting ready, and asked if she could put eyeliner on my bottom lids. I knew nothing about makeup, and she was the only person I knew who owned any product besides Chapstick. I was so nervous. It was such a monumental moment for me, and when she said yes, I felt beautiful.

Wearing makeup does something to a young girl’s self esteem. For some reason, it makes you feel older, more sophisticated, and more confident; however, I’m not sure why because the first years I wore makeup were awkward and inexperienced. I had no idea what I was doing and neither did any of my friends. The last time my face was left untouched by makeup was 2008, which was early for my age group! My friends didn’t start wearing makeup until eighth grade or our freshman year of high school. And even though I did wear makeup, I was only allowed to wear eyeliner for special occasions and concealer when I had acne. Once I got braces, I looked like this for most of my pre-teen years:

The idea of putting awkward pictures of my younger self on the Internet, to some, may seem horrifying, but to me it’s hilarious. I wanted to share these because this is how I looked when I was a preteen. I had bucked teeth until I was 10, wore headgear for three years, wore braces for almost two years, and I still have acne to this day. And you know what? I treasure the memories of the awkward puberty phases in my life because they were real. I went through many phases of puberty, and what scares me about today’s society is that young girls are trying to skip through these by practicing makeup techniques that I still don’t know how to do.

When I go home for break and see younger girls with $500 makeup kits, it scares me. When I go on Instagram and see the girls I babysit looking older than me, it scares me.

So the question must be asked, are girls wearing makeup at a younger age? If so, why?

According to a 2013 survey conducted by The Renfew Center Foundation (, almost three in five young girls between the ages of eight and 16 surveyed (or 58 percent) admitted to wearing makeup, 65 percent of this statistic were girls between the ages of eight and 13. At least 20 percent of girls who have ever worn makeup have negative feelings when they are not wearing makeup, and 27 percent rarely leave the house without it. Some reported they felt “self conscious, unattractive, and naked, as if something is missing,” when not wearing makeup.

Hope Msumba, an eighth grade student at Grafton Middle School, says that the girls she goes to school with started wearing makeup in fourth or fifth grade. “It’s a domino effect,” said Hope. “In a social hierarchy such as middle school, makeup trickles down at younger ages. I do think there is a stigma for girls feeling that they have to wear makeup younger to imitate their older sisters, moms, and idols, online and in the media. Girls are definitely wearing makeup younger and younger.”

Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube all have unlimited videos and picture tutorials that can help girls learn how to do their makeup.  The term “beauty guru” came to life when famous bloggers on Youtube began to post videos about beauty and lifestyle tips. They tell you what stores to get the right products from, tips for makeup application, and even show pictures of models with professionally done makeup as if there isn’t enough pressure to want to look perfect already.

According to The Blog Studio, cosmetic companies such as NARS Cosmetics and OPI have over 10,000 subscribers on Youtube, while bloggers like Zoella have over 10 million subscribers and millions of views on their Youtube videos daily.

All of the young girls watching Youtube tutorials and looking at Instagram photos need to realize that these “gurus” are not only five to 10 years older than they are, but are paid professionals. Pictures on Instagram are of models, not real people. While the presence of social media is only going to continue to increase in our lives, I think it’s important to spread a message to young girls to enjoy their youth. So here is a word of advice: wearing makeup should be a fun, transitional phase in your life. If you feel pressured to change your looks at a young age, you are only going to be unhappy. Embrace your inner beauty, believe in who you are, and surround yourself with influences that will only lift you up, not push you down.

A Take on Makeup from Real Girls

To get more of an understanding on the change in makeup, I asked some of my beautiful best friends for their input and some photos from their middle school days. We had a great laugh, and to all my pre-teens out there, I promise you will too! Have fun with makeup but remember that you will always shine whether you have highlighter on or not; don’t be a product of what someone wants you to be, stay true to yourself.  

Thanks for being beautiful inside and out Julia, Sam, and Elana!


Julia, 19, Sophomore at Boston University

Do you wear makeup?


When did you start wearing makeup?

Eyeliner in seventh and eighth grade but more full-on makeup freshman year to present day.

If you wear makeup, do you think that you are pressured to wear makeup?

I wouldn’t say I feel pressured to wear makeup, it is something that I love to do and I think personally it looks better on me.

Do you think social media plays a role in influencing younger girls to wear makeup?

Yes. I learned about makeup from beauty gurus on YouTube and then found their Facebooks, and other social media accounts…I wanted to look like them when I was younger. I wanted to be able to do my makeup like them, but did not have as many resources as girls do now

What is the appropriate age to start wearing makeup?

I would say it's up to the girl, but like eighth or ninth grade. I know a few girls in my high school who were wearing it in sixth grade which I thought was crazy but apparently they were picked on a lot for acne and so they wanted to cover it up, which is really sad. So as long as you are not wearing makeup to impress others, then whenever you feel ready!


Samantha, 20, Sophomore at Boston University

Do you wear makeup?

I wear eye-makeup.

When did you start wearing makeup?

Sixth grade, then ninth grade to present.

If you wear makeup, do you think that you are pressured to wear makeup?

Sometimes yes, because I want to look just as pretty as girls who do their make-up well. I don’t wear foundation or any face make-up so I do not know how to do any fancy tricks.

Do you think social media plays a role in influencing younger girls to wear makeup?

I do, we all see the same posts on Instagram and Twitter and we just want to feel as pretty as the girls in the ads. Even Instagram accounts and beauty sites make you feel that you have to be just as good at applying makeup as professional artists.

What is the appropriate age to start wearing make-up?

Freshman year of high school.


Elana, 20, Sophomore at Boston University

Do you wear makeup?


When did you start wearing make-up?

Sixth Grade, then 11th and 12th grade.

If you wear makeup, do you think that you are pressured to wear makeup?

I think that there is pressure for people to look good, but I think there’s a lot of pressure to look completely done up while also looking very natural (especially from a male perspective).

Do you think social media plays a role in influencing younger girls to wear makeup?

I am so thankful that the social media around today didn't exist when I was in middle school and early high school. People can look any way they want to in photos, and I think young girls or people who aren't very experienced with makeup don't realize that even if it looks like a model is "bare faced," she's wearing foundation, concealer, false eyelashes, and everything else. Unless you have the confidence and love yourself inside and out, seeing images like that everywhere can really make girls (and guys too) feel insecure. Even I feel sad sometimes looking through Instagram and I know that I'm 1,000 times more confident with myself now than I was before.

What is the appropriate age to start wearing makeup?

I think the age depends on the person; I think makeup can be fun to play with too for younger girls. What's more important are the habits of makeup. I don't think anyone should become so reliant on it that they never leave their house or let anyone see them without makeup. Until you're ready for that maybe you should wait to use it.



Special thanks to:




BeautyJacqui Manning