My Son Interested in My Make-up

Updated on December 08, 2010
L.F. asks from Philadelphia, PA
15 answers

My son is near four years old. he’s extremely interested in my make-up. When I am sitting in front of my dresser, he will ask me to put some lipstick on his lips. He also seems very fond of my stockings, and sometimes even tries it on. I tell him he shouldn’t wear make-up since he’s a boy. He seems a little confused after hearing my explanation. He is also interested in gender issue. Once he asked me “the boys in his class pee standing up while the girls pee squatting. I also want to pee squatting like girls, is that ok, mom?” Another day in the subway, he asked me “is that man with long yellow hair and bright-colored shirt a man or woman?” I don’t down how to answer his question properly since I don’t want to make him confused. I know it’s time to let him know some gender knowledge, but I don’t know how to explain to him properly?

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answers from Boca Raton on

I would answer his questions as openly and honestly as I could, at an age-appropriate level, without any judgment implied in the words or tone.

If he were ever to have gender confusion issues (and I'm not saying he does), I would want him to be able to come to me and not be afraid or ashamed.


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answers from Kansas City on

how you explain it is up to you. you don't seem comfortable with him experimenting at all. but in my mind, it's not BOY or GIRL, there's a whole spectrum. some boys like to play with dolls. some girls like to play with trucks. they may be straight, bi, or gay, or any mixture of all the above. just my personal opinion - i would let him do what he wants on this issue. if you explain it at all, just explain that a lot of boys like these things. but if you like these other things, that's great, that's what makes you special. don't discourage him or make him feel bad about wanting to play with your makeup. i know grown men who cover their entire faces in make up and go sit in a tree for hours in the cold (hunters). to each their own. there is no earthly reason in today's modern society to smother a child's individuality and make him feel bad for being curious about things. just for the record, most likely it's a phase, he loves you and worhips you as his mother, and is interested in the things you do. i think it's adorable. a lot of boys go through it. but in the end he is who he is and you're going to have to just accept it and love him, or it will damage your relationship with him.

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answers from Kansas City on

My six y/o boy still likes to play in my makeup. It's all about the colors and sparkles. In his eyes, it turns mommy from normal to 'pretty'. He puts it on me if I let him and on his arms and hands. My three year old likes to play with the brushes because they are soft. My husband hates it but OH WELL!!!

I've seen many little girls ask if they can pee standing up like brothers and daddy's so I don't think there is anything wrong with him entertaining the idea of peeing sitting down. Most boys do that when they potty train and they also pee sitting down when having a bowel movement. So no biggie there.

So....gender knowledge....well, I would just leave it simple.

1) Boys don't normally wear makeup. It's fun to play but it's not an everyday thing.

2) Most boys pee standing up. If you want to sit, fine, but make sure you point it down and don't spray the walls.

3) Most of the time boys don't have long hair but some boys like it and that's okay.

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answers from Seattle on

Kids are wired to imitate. That's how they learn language, to walk, to use their hands, to hug for the "right" amount of time, to not injure others, to make the "right" sounds while eating (in america almost none, in asia a lot), to, to... the THOUSANDS of everyday things that a baby cannot do but a young child can. In cultures where parents do "useful" things now and throughout history (like sewing/weaving, gathering, farming)... by the age of 2 toddlers are imitating their elders and helping out, and by 4 or 5 are often proficient enough to be contribuiting to the tribe/clan/group in VERY meaningful ways. The kinds of societies where the more children one has the wealthier a familiy, instead of poorer. Hands to help feed instead of mouths to feed.

Anyhow... point being... kids imitate. He sees you put on makeup and his brain says that he should be copying you. So he follows his instincts. He sees you as someone worthy of respect and emulation and he does everything he can to be the same type of person.

Later on this is known as "peer pressure"... wanting to be like those they admire. Right now he admires you. Revel in it.

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answers from Washington DC on

Give him Chapstick and a clean makeup brush. Let him play. He is a boy, soon enough you will have Lego's and KNex all over the house and he will try to skewer you with any stick he finds. Right now he is watching you. You put makeup on and wear stockings.
Is there a Daddy in the picture? I ask only because when my son was younger he wanted to do everything I did because I was single and so it was only me. My hubby fixed a lot, like peeing standing up. We married when my son was 4.
Also my sister wanted ot pee standing up because our cousin did. THey are 3 months apart, so potty training was happening at the same time.

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answers from Denver on

He probably just wants to do what he sees you do. When my oldest was 4, he wanted to paint his fingernails because I was painting mine. I didn't care but I knew my husband wouldn't have been comfortable with it, so I told him if he still wanted to paint them when he was 12, he could. He has since lost interest in copying these kinds of things (he's 6).

I don't see any harm in this desire to copy - but if you do, it might be best just to tell him that make-up is for grown-ups, not that he can't wear it "because he's a boy." If he does have gender identity issues, you can't make them go away by telling him they're wrong. But you can make him feel like he can't come to you to talk about it. I understand it would be difficult - we KNOW our babies are perfect "just as they are." But he'll still be your baby, no matter what.

Oh, and if he was asking about a transgendered person on the subway, and you are not comfortable saying the person is whatever he/she presented as, "I don't know" is a fine answer.

Good luck to you. Try not to worry too much. At this point, he is most likely just wanting to copy you.

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answers from Atlanta on

Well, at 4, he has no idea about transgendered, transexual, gay, straight or any of it. He's simply curious! He notices differences and that's very interesting for the first time. My 4 year old son was VERY interested in anatomical differences and why we pee differently! Explain to him that in some situations (public restrooms) boys and men really have to stand up to pee because of urinals, but if he's at home or in a stall, then he can sit if he wants. It's not something that will stick with him, most likely. If his father is around -let him watch Daddy pee. My oldest never wanted to sit down at all to pee because Daddy doesn't. My youngest only wants to sit -everyone is different!

He's interested in your makeup because it's like face paint to a kid! It's something he sees you put on every day and it involves color. I explain to my boys (who LOVE to watch me put on my makeup) that usually only women wear makeup, but they can wear lip balm and moisturizer on their faces. Did you only tell him he shouldn't wear make up because he's a boy? He needs an actual explanation about how in our world usually only women wear make up and men usually don't -but sometimes they may for acting, being on television or doing other activities. You can go as far as you want with it, but very simple explanations and reasoning usually works with this age. When you see a guy in makeup -you can explain that one however you want, but I would start teaching him now that there are lots of different types of people in the world, and some people like to look or dress very differently than everyone else.

As to the guy in the subway -why not just tell him it's a guy? Many, MANY men have long hair. Many men also enjoy wearing bright colors regardless of their sexual orientation. If you see an actual cross-dresser who is obviously a man dressed as a woman, just tell him that some men like to do that. It will be obvious to him that most men don't dress like that.

He's really just curious, so I wouldn't stress about any of it. Most of us don't remember when we first noticed these things, but we all did and we were all curious about it!

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I think your son is just curious. Don't make it into something it isn't. Is his father in the picture? If so, that would be an obvious easy way to explain the differences between boys and girls. Daddy is a boy, Mommy is a girl. Does he spend most of his time with you, without a balance of guy time with his father? I would just be matter-of-fact with him about these things. Mommies wear make-up. Daddies don't. So, boys don't either. Mommies wear dresses and skirts. Daddies don't. So, boys don't either. Girls and boys are made differently. Girls are not able to pee standing up, so they have to sit down. Boys can do it either way, but most prefer to stand up because they can. No biggie. Now, some boys have long hair, so that can be confusing, but most men have short hair, and long hair usually means it is a woman. But, sometimes we have to look closer at their face to tell the difference. He's learning, that's great. Please, don't stress too much about this one. Perhaps he thinks your make-up is like war paint. LOL

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answers from Philadelphia on

My son is only 15 months old, so I don't know how I would handle this. I recently saw a "Super Nanny" episode where a father was worried that his little boy would always play dress-up with his sisters. He enjoyed wearing purses, etc... Since the father scolded him, he started hiding and doing it in private. 'Super Nanny' explained that this is just part of make-believe/pretend/dress-up and he shouldn't be scolded. And- it was probably just a phase. (easier said than done though)

Also- Have you seen the movie- "The Hot Chick"? It's really cute. There's a little boy in the movie that enjoys sneaking around in his sister's make-up and shoes, etc... (just innocent fun)

I think kids just want to copy everything they see us grown-ups do. Maybe it's just curiosity...

I don't know how I'll handle this when I get to that point. When we were growing up, gender was 'black and white.' Now there are so many gray areas... (It's not uncommon to see a man wearing eye-liner... or even high heels!)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

He sounds like a perfectly normal 4 year old. This might be a good time to make sure he knows words for private parts and then explaining the difference between girls and boys will be easier: Girls squat to pee because they don't have penises, etc.

I always said "That's a man with long hair...or that's a woman with really short hair, etc. Don't make a big deal out of it. This is a really good age to focus on discussing similarities and differences.

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answers from Tulsa on

why not make his lipstick chapstick :) explain girls are not capable of peeing standing up. yes peeing squating is fine who will know other than him. :) the stocking thing he will outgrow. all of this to me is normal development. my oldest put makeup on his teddy bear at 3 and I could have killed him when he got rid of that teddy bear. he could have gotten rid of all the others but not that one :( stocking feel diffrent than boys socks. my 2 yr old is in a stocking hat and shoe thing. I dont worry about it. he will outgrow it. boys play dress up to dress like daddy usually but mama on occasion.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My son is almost 3 1/2 and he to is interested in my makup. He always wants to help me with putting it on. What i do is set everything out i will be using and let him pick what i put on first. Sometimes he tries to use the eyelash curler, or will put on some eyeshadow or blush and that is just fine with me. We wash it off right away and he is fine with that. It is just curiosity, mommy uses it why cant i? It is just play, and him learning. He also wears my shoes, likes the color pink, and likes to play with my purse at times. He is also very much into trucks, and motorcycles, and sports. He LOVES golf and football, and is extremly advanced with trowing and hitting a ball. He is obsessed with trucks and trailers and jumps and wheelies. At that young age i would not be concerned about any of it. They dont know the difference. If my son wants to wear pink, i say go for it. He also pees sitting down because aiming at that age does not work for him and he dont like to make a mess everywhere. I think it is good for them to be interested in many different things. Just tell him everyone is different and special and there are some things that are for girls and somethings that are for boys. Sometimes just a simple answer is all they need.

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answers from Boston on

I'd let him use makeup in the house but tell him that children don't wear makeup outside, girls or boys. Of course he's curious - you use these things, and he is emulating you. Why shouldn't little boys get to play dress up? The less of a mystery it is, the sooner he'll work through it.

There is a lot of gender-bending and it's often hard to tell if someone is a man or a woman. Just say you don't know if you don't. I'm not sure why it's important to know, frankly. People look the way they choose to look. Other than knowing whether to call a person "sir" or "ma'am", does it really matter??

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answers from Harrisburg on

He is just a curious, imaginative 4 yr old living in a mixed up world. Educate him on the true differences between man and woman, and the ones in between! (the ones who choose to go away from the norm). As for the makeup etc, don't worry about that. My son at the same age put on my clothes and it's just him trying to mimick me. Not a big deal. Don't confuse his mind with adult thinking. Keep it simple. It is so confusing to kids these days when people don't believe in absolutes anymore!

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answers from Philadelphia on

Do not feel left out. My son is almost 3.5 years old and this summer when I was painting my toenails he wanted his done too. I did it. Now he wants his done everytime I do it. I figured it is fine since he has socks and shoes on when he is out with us. I told him no when he wanted his fingernails polished. I told him Mommy does not polish hers. This is true,I do not do my fingernails. As for the long hair tell him that some older men like to have long hair. Tell him men and women can have long hair but most of the time men have short hair. Sometimes,my son sits down and pees but most of the time he stands up now because he wants to pee like his Dad. It is hard if you do not have a male figure around for him. Just explain it as simply as you can. Part of it is curiosity and part of it is getting to know who he is.

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