Getting to the root of the problem ...

Maureen Kennedy
Maureen Kennedy

I recently spent a day with a family I have known for years and remember their two girls as babies.

It was therefore a bit of a surprise to see Gail, aged 11, in full make-up. Not just a bit of lippy but thick dark lines around her eyes, vibrant eye shadow and glitter.

Seemingly the make-up has been a major issue between mother and daughter who has bought it all herself with her pocket money despite her mother’s objections to her wearing it.

Little girls love dressing up at home and playing with make-up but it’s another matter to go out caked in it at such a young age.

It was clear mum felt helpless and wanted some advice but it wasn’t just the make-up that was the issue. Gail, when challenged, had said she had to wear make-up as she wasn’t pretty enough without it.

The truth is that the younger sister, Lily, is tall, slim, very pretty and very bright. All of the things her older sister would love to be.

So we are dealing here with an 11-year-old with low self esteem who is trying to deal with it by herself.

As with many children, others often succeed in getting through when the parents fail, so I suggested she enlisted the help of a family friend whom Gail was quite close to.

The two women came up with a plan but it was down to the friend to implement it on a day when Gail was at her house.

I suggested that mum came up with a list of positives about Gail that the friend would casually ‘throw’ at her during their chat.

One positive is that Gail has thick long blonde hair so it was suggested she would be treated to a trip to the hairdresser to get some advice on styles she could adopt to enhance this to hopefully take her mind off painting her face!

Gail was also persuaded that her make up really did nothing for her and in fact looked a bit silly.

She was thrilled to be told what a great personality she had and how entertaining she was and wasn’t it great that she was so much more confident horse riding than her younger sister ... and so on.

Gail went home smiling. She didn’t let on what had been said, but mum knew. Result!