In the world of competitive cheer, dance and even pageants, the parents and kids are required to put on “stage makeup” and put on a uniform or costume that gives them an edge in the judge’s eyes. The gym owners and/or coaches are always looking for the next best thing in regards to makeup and uniforms that make the team look their very best. I watch “Toddlers and Tiaras” on TV and laugh at the crazy moms and the lengths they go through to make their daughter (sometimes son) perfect in the eyes of the judges. Hair extensions, facials, fake teeth (flippers), fake nails, tans, eyebrows waxed, and then on the day of the pageant, they spend hours making their little girls look older and all dolled up. We have all seen the pictures, we all know the stories, and usually we laugh and think it’s all crazy. However, to me, the world of cheer is becoming the same.
The right makeup can help a team stand out in a good way. It’s one thing to see the older girls with their hair all done perfect, all the bright red lipstick and glitter makeup in midriff-baring uniforms with the tan, but when did it change to having the same for the Tiny and Mini teams? When we first joined a competitive gym, our owner believed in doing “Dallas Curls” with natural-looking eye makeup and clear lip gloss and I loved it. When we moved, our 7-year-old’s new team required bright red lipstick. I affectionately called “Tijuana lips.” When we moved again, I was so looking forward to getting rid of the lipstick but soon found out that our new (and current) gym used the same lipstick color—and now we were going to add glitter eye shadow to the mix. Now my daughter was on a team with older girls and I get that she has to blend in and look the part. I do follow our gym’s policy and put all the makeup required on her and it looks great!
In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that for the past six months, my 10-year-old has been getting her eyebrows waxed, not because I force her to do it but because she doesn’t like the whole uni-brow look. On competition day, our almost 3-year-old asks for makeup; I let her have a little mascara, some glitter and maybe some lippy. It is cute, I agree. But where do you draw the line? I don’t want my kids growing up too fast.
I love that our gym has our Tiny team wearing full length tops that keep them covered; after all, they are little girls who need to be covered. There is no reason to send them out and about trying to look like they are 16 and not 5. With the new rule about cheerleaders being required to put on a shirt or jacket over their crop top uniform when not performing, I thought we were moving in the right direction. Yeah, but that is not really happening or being enforced. At every competition we have been at, I am seeing the majority of the kids still walking around with just their uniform on and not covering up.
I understand the concept of having all the teams look the same, but we have to take a stand somewhere. Where do we draw the line? I will admit, the little girls all dolled up look cute, but it’s not cute when their butts are hanging out of their shorts because they are too short. I have heard that the reasoning behind the bright red lipstick is to “allow the judges to notice their facials”—okay, I get that. What is the reasoning behind the 4-6 year olds wearing crop top uniforms and/or shorts with their body parts exposed and the fake hair pieces? Have we gone too far in pushing our children to grow up too fast?
It’s a hard line to draw. I know my younger daughter wants to be exactly like her older sister. She even wears a sports bra and spanks to tumbling and is so happy when they match. Where do you draw the line? Or do you? Is it okay to allow young kids to dress like teenagers in the spirit of competition, under the assumption that it’s just for the stage? Do you have your child cover up when they aren’t performing? Do you allow the use of hairpieces, spray tans, etc. because you feel it gives your team or child an edge? How far is too far? In our world that is always pushing our children to be the best, will there ever be a line drawn in the sand that we shouldn’t cross?
This post was written by Kristen Roeder and originally appeared on our partner website Cheer Parents Central.