Geeky Teen to Beauty Queen

Published on by CMe


Sooner or later, every girl reaches an age where she starts asking questions about her skin, her hair and her looks. It might be nine, it might be 19; for Rashna, it was 11, and her supposedly hairy legs were the tip of the iceberg.

What about her face? Did she need a special wash for it like it said in the magazines? Or anti-ageing cream? When could she wear make-up?

The answers required more thought than usual. My job is writing about beauty and health. I'm used to answering queries from adults but realised I was assuming a certain amount of beauty know-how.

You tell a grown woman that she needs to cleanse, tone and moisturise, and she knows what you're talking about it. Rashna would say: "What do you mean, 'cleanse'? Is that the same as washing? And what is toner, anyway?" Fair point.

As one question led to another, a book began to emerge. Be Beautiful: Every Girl's Guide to Hair, Skin and Make-up is the result.

It's for 11- to 17-year-old girls who are getting to grips with the basics of skincare and discovering the fun of make-up - and doing it in a way that isn't going to cost the earth.

It's the first book of its kind and if you ask me, it's needed. In France, teenage girls are rigorously schooled by their mothers in the details of grooming.

American teens are introduced to a dermatologist as a matter of course, along with the doctor and the dentist.

But in the UK making the most of your looks is still seen as a slightly questionable pursuit.

Mothers rarely drag their daughters off for facials or make-up lessons and dermatologists are thin on the ground, so girls pick up snippets of knowledge from what their friends say, from what is being promoted in magazines and on TV, and from what they find on the web.

It's a dubious mixture, full of bias and esoteric detail (I feel that rather than learning of "double-dip" tanning treatments, they should be equipped with a few facts about sunlight and its effect on the skin).

There are myths that skitter through classrooms and across the internet causing endless alarm. Antiperspirant deodorants are not going to give you cancer; using baking soda to whiten your teeth is not a good idea - ruins the enamel.

And no, shaving won't make your hair grow back thicker or darker than before (it just feels that way because you've sliced neatly across the shaft of the hair, which then grows, bluntly, out from the skin).

Rashna is now 14, still full of questions and rather keener on make-up than I feel is appropriate (though since I've taught her the gist of how to use it, I can hardly object, can I?). And yes she still shaves her legs, though she has started asking about laser hair removal. I fear it's only a matter of time... The Beauty Queen and the School Nerd
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