I love being a girl-dad. My life is filled with everything pink and glittery, unicorn- and princess-themed. My daughter has loads of other “masculine” toys like tractors and dinosaurs and pretend tool sets. But her favorites usually leave our house sparkling like a disco ball.

And I love every part of it.

Recently, my daughter was playing dress-up, and she was even putting on some makeup (with Mommy’s assistance, of course). My daughter placed some blue eyeshadow all over her own face and my wife’s face.

As I sat there chuckling at the spectacle, my daughter grabbed the brush and charged my way.

And I actually had a split second of an internal dilemma:

Should I let my daughter put makeup on me?

A deep part of me started to say no. “Men NEVER wear makeup!”

It sounded like the voice of some old pastor from my youth, berating students for not following a strict set of cultural expectations of masculinity and femininity. But it was a powerful voice — so much so that I almost listened to it.

But then I remembered two things.

One, I’ve worn makeup before. I used to do theatre and wore makeup a lot. And I don’t mean stage makeup — I mean literal makeup. Anyone who says there’s a strong difference between the two is not telling the whole truth; there’s a slight difference between stage makeup and regular makeup (a conversation for another time), but guess what?

They’re both still makeup.

The second thing I remembered is promising myself that if/when I had a daughter, I would never refuse to play dress-up with her.

At the end of the day, my wearing some makeup or playing pretend with my daughter will not come to define her conception of gender.

My daughter sees me and my wife interact with each other day in and day out.

She sees how we carry ourselves, listens to the things we say, and observes how we display our masculinity and femininity.

My letting her put makeup on me for a few minutes one day will not suddenly change her perception of gender.

What it will do instead is demonstrate something far more important to my daughter: I love her and want to spend time with her, doing the things that are important to her.

So, I let my daughter splatter blue eyeshadow all over my face. It didn’t look too terrible, though it was nowhere near my eyes.

After she finished playing, we all washed our faces and hands from the mess. It was literally no big deal.

So, my new rule is this: if my daughter wants to put makeup on my face, I will let her.

As long as it’s a good color that brings out my eyes, that is.

Have you ever worn makeup as a man? Do you wear makeup today? Why or why not?

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  • Proud of you, Dean. You’re such a good dad.
    I’ve been insecure about my complexion since my acne years of middle school. I never had anyone to teach me to wear makeup; otherwise, I probably would. To some degree. I don’t feel a ton of masculine insecurity about wearing it as long as it’s not overdone. Some touch-ups here and there, especially for special occasions. To build confidence, if nothing else. Perhaps I should look at some YouTube tutorials?

    • I am thankful those days are behind me. I used to have to go to the dermatologist to have my acne worked on…and it was like torture. Looking back on all of that…I think mine was the result of poor self-esteem, anxiety and eating sweets. I wish I had listened more to what God says in His word about us…and not the voices of the world…As long as I live, I will have room to learn and grow in Him.

  • I find this interesting as I recently looked on line to see if cosmetics for men were made for sale. I found it was! I could not afford such, but I enjoyed seeing what was made and available to men.
    I don’t know if one can count this as cosmetics, but I do use skin toner and creams and lotions on my face and neck once or twice a week. Also, in the winter I find my lips get chapped and I have found Burt’s Bees lip balm to be highly effective…it does have different colors available, but a small amount usually isn’t too noticeable.

  • If you ever saw my high school freshman picture, it set the stage for me to make certain I appeared presentable in all future pics. It was concealer that became my long-time favorite kind of make-up. Every time school picture day rolled I made certain my outfit and face were set perfectly. Even recently I took advantage of some free concealer at a local drugstore because I knew I was going to have my picture taken at my graduation ceremony. The flashbacks to all those ugly blemishes I suffered as a freshman came right back into memory. I can’t believe I can be this vain, but picture days signifying these milestones can turn me obsessive.
    Prior to all this I recall wearing make-up in 2nd grade and again in middle school, but it was Halloween and I was trying to look the role as part of my costume. The make-up always had a purpose behind it.

  • Of course you (as all GREAT dads do!) let her cover you in whatever she thinks looks fabulous!! We wear the dang makeup, the feather boa, and the tiara. All while sipping invisible tea in plastic China with our pinkies extended. Why? Because it’s important to HER, so it’s important to me. My daughter is nearly nine, and she’s making that transition from play dress up and makeup, to actually wanting to dress up, even if it’s just a trip to the grocery. So it’s been a minute since she’s wanted to doll me up, but I would still let her. These days, though, she’s reaching for tinted lip balm because it’s not the ‘little kid’ stuff. *sigh*
    Sorry… needed a moment.
    Yes, we wear makeup for our little girls, because it meets them on their level. It tells them we value them, their opinions, their likes and dislikes. Our job as parents is to show our little ones they have value, not because of performance, or talent, or skill, but because of who they are. Good job, Dean! 🙂

    • Thanks, FlowerGuy! Awesome points. I’m so glad you can share such great interactions with your own daughter. 🙂

  • Aww, I love Dadly Dean! I agree that the message “good fathers engage with their children and their children’s interests” is a much more important and valuable message than “men don’t wear make-up.”
    Also it seems like the relationship between cosmetics and gender is very culturally-bound. I remember reading somewhere (though I can’t find a good source) that many of America’s founding fathers would have worn cosmetics. Different attitudes at the time.

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