Tween girls are in the social media crosshairs right now. Their crime? Taking the appearance of their skin seriously.
The complaint from the olds is that these kids today are using fancy products on their already perfect, line-free faces. These Gen Alpha girls, toting comically huge Stanley cups so they’re always well hydrated, shop at Sephora, have a seemingly unlimited skincare budget and buy out all the best products.
We used to worry about kids using drugs, now we’re worrying about the active drug in their moisturizer. It certainly seems like a step up.
Yet video after video online, and whole segments on the “Today” show on TV, berates these girls for things like using anti-wrinkle cream when they don’t actually have wrinkles.
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Are some of these girls using unnecessary or even harmful products? Maybe. But do they deserve a barrage of nasty videos made about them in retaliation for being misguided? No.
The videos also target these young girls for being entitled and rude. That’s a different problem. Of course tweens making a laundry list of things they demand for Christmas isn’t OK. Of course being rude to Sephora employees should not stand.
But as someone who spends quite a bit of time around Generation Alpha, I have yet to see much of this behavior at all. The cohort I know is largely poised and confident with yes, perfect skin.
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Social media plays a role, of course. These girls have been influenced by the older set. They’ve watched “get ready with me” (abbreviations are very in and these videos are called “GRWM”) clips where an older, cooler, girl applies an array of serums and potions to her already gorgeous face.
The younger set copied the look and also the medium. There are now 11-year-olds making their own videos to showcase their “skincare routine” and applying a dozen products to skin without an ounce of damage in need of fixing.
But so what? It’s not like previous generations of tween girls didn’t have a skincare routine. We did. It’s just that our skincare routine was very bad.
We would scrub our faces with street gravel, that is St. Ives apricot scrub, and follow it up with Oxy cleansing pads which had the sensation of applying rubbing alcohol directly to an open wound. We thought we were fighting adolescent pimples but any look at old yearbooks would show that that fight was very much in vain.
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Our makeup routine was similarly chaotic. We ’90s teens plucked out all of our eyebrows and drew a thin line where the brows used to be. We are all still trying to grow them back today. The lip color of our moment was dark brown lip liner with a lighter brown lipstick. We’d apply orangey self-tanner or, worse, go lay in tanning beds after school.
We did not look good. We did not look well.
In contrast, tween and teen girls today look fresh-faced, bright and healthy. They’re not scrubbing their faces to an inch of its existence. They read ingredients on products. The ones who are doing it “wrong” are learning and making corrections to their routines.
They’re motivated to take care of their faces, not turn themselves in pointy-browed monsters with rashes from all the scrubbing. Give them a break.
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As the Gen Alpha teen who lives in my home says when asked to defend the fact that she has a [very basic] skincare routine: “I have skin too.”
They’re not overdoing the makeup either. Less is more, “clean girl aesthetic,” with glass skin and glossy lips remains all the rage.
The one weird thing this generation does do is overuse the highlighter. They will look back and wonder why they thought looking greasy was a good look.
But that’s a rite of passage for teenagers throughout history. Why did I do that to my hair? Why am I wearing that? Where did my eyebrows go?
This generation is already too well put together and not nearly awkward enough. Let them have this. Let them make their mistakes and be free to experiment with skincare routines and makeup looks. And, of course, let us borrow their products.
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