Beauty Advice For My Goddaughter

Someday, my goddaughter is going to move mountains, I’m sure of it. But today, she turns 7. Seven! People born in 2009 are seven years old. After meeting her at the hospital, I took the train back to Philadelphia and watched President Obama’s inauguration on tv. Seven years.

I take my godmother job very seriously, and for a very good reason. M’s mother died last month. My brother is an amazing dad, but there are things he won’t know to tell her.

Beauty advice is one of those things that isn’t too hard to think about right now — because it isn’t important. I don’t care if my niece wears sweatpants and a ponytail if that’s what she wants, but she’s artistic and colorful and gets real joy out of beautiful things – and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Here’s some of my essential information for Miss M., when she’s ready for it:

  • Sometimes, one of your friends will get really evangelical about a hair or skin care product that they think is the best thing ever. There’s a good chance that it won’t work on you, but it’s okay to try it anyway.
  • There will come a time when you want bangs. You have curly hair. It might never look good. Getting into a years-long cycle of cutting bangs then growing them out again is totally acceptable and is actually how I spent my teens and 20s. It’s like a casual hobby.
  • If you have a hair tie, bobby pin or safety pin in your purse, and somebody else needs it, it is now community property. 
  • Always buy clothes that fit. Odds are you’re going to stay small-boned and skinny (but it’s fine if you don’t) and when clothes hang off of you, you will look like a Dickensian beggar.
  • Dickensian beggar is an OK look for weekends but probably not job interviews.
  • If you aren’t totally sure about a tattoo, don’t. Even if you fall out of love with something later on, it will be more okay if you at least were certain when you got it.
  • If it’s too itchy, get rid of it.
  • There are two kinds of people: people who take off their makeup every night, and people who wake up with smudgy faces and smudgier pillowcases. You know what kind of person to be.
  • Hang up or neatly fold your clothes. They will last longer.
  • Sunscreen. Every day. Forever. Because your lineage is half Puerto Rican, half snowman.
  • There’s a 5-8 year window when the things you wore in high school will be really embarrassing to you. Don’t throw away photos of those outfits – someday you’ll love looking at them.
  • Never tell anybody that what they’re wearing is “flattering.” That’s lowkey insulting.
  • Never listen to anybody who tells you that what you’re wearing is “flattering,” either. You look good, not the clothes.
  • You asked your dad to save all of your mom’s clothes for you, which was amazingly forward-thinking for a six-year-old because your mom had great style. Take good care of them, but if something gets ruined, remember that your mom would have wanted you to wear things and enjoy them, not keep them locked away. You will give them life again.
  • Try not to be too jealous that your brother’s hair gets more compliments than yours. There’s an excellent chance that he will be bald one day. Let him have this moment.
  • If you ever go to a school where you have a uniform, rejoice! I know some parts of it aren’t great but your mornings will be so much easier.
  • While we’re at it: you can try to make a school uniform or your ballet tights and leotard look cool, but chances are it’s just going to call attention to how uncool they are.
  • Your favorite bit with your dad (though you pretend to hate it) is when he “yells” at you for being too pretty. But seriously, you are really pretty. That is only one thing about you and it’s not why any of us love you.
  • Always be yourself. When you were chatting with your baby cousin last month and we asked what you were teaching her, you answered “just always be yourself.” So kiddo, this isn’t a lesson you need, but in case you ever forget.
  • ‘Highlighting’ is where you paint white stripes on the parts of your face you want people to look at. It will probably be very out of style by the time you’re wearing makeup, but if you go to a 2010s-themed party in college you should totally do it.
  • A few days before Christmas, I let you splash too much in the bath, brushed your hair into two shiny black pigtails, and got you dressed in a white dress that your other aunt bought. It seemed so wrong that we were going to your mother’s memorial. But there will be other white dresses for happier days – your quince, your graduation, maybe a wedding – and I’ll be there to help you then, too, if you want it. And probably if you don’t, because you are never, ever getting rid of me.
  • Until your mid-20s, cheap moisturizer is fine.
  • Every once in a while, a rumor goes around that you can use hemorrhoid cream on puffy under-eyes. Maybe that works for some people, but personally: it makes your puffy skin extra-shiny AND it makes your face smell like a butt. An ailing butt.
  • The first time something you wore in your youth comes back into style, you’re going to feel terrible. Get used to it, because once it starts it doesn’t stop. Chances are when you are 80 all of the young kids will be wearing the spacesuits or whatever that were popular in your 30s.
  • If you’re afraid of overdressing or underdressing for an event, just wear something simple but make sure your hair and makeup is on point.
  • If you ever, ever, ever find yourself saying that you can’t cut your hair because your significant other will hate it, either that person is garbage OR you really don’t want to cut it and feel better hanging that on someone else. Take a minute and figure out which it is, okay?
  • It’s better to be a tween with braces, if you need them, than to be an adult trying to figure out if your insurance will cover orthodontia. You will probably look back on the years of 11-15 as awkward ones anyway, and the braces are an investment in the future.
  • Assuming selfies are still a thing when you get older, try to take 3 unnecessary cat pictures for every 1 unnecessary selfie. Not because there’s anything wrong with taking pictures of yourself, but because it’s been scientifically (not at all) proven (by me) that excessive photos of pets in your social media accounts will keep out the wrong element. (Plus every girl needs that one Weird Cat Aunt, and I’m yours.)
  • You will not become prettier or healthier by “flushing” “toxins” from your system. M, this fact will appear on several of your lists.
  • You will not become prettier or healthier by “flushing” “toxins” from your system BUT you will be prettiest if you drink enough water, eat enough fruits and vegetables, move a lot, and live a life that makes you happy.
  • Here are my favorite things about you: during the last week I spent with you, you called 4 days “the best day of my life.” You believe in all of the best things, like unicorns and mermaids. You ask good questions even though they’re hard for us to answer. You dance instead of walk. You are unfailingly patient and helpful with your baby cousins and none of us are really joking when we say we’d let you babysit them. You know your mind better than anyone I know. None of those things have anything to do with what you look like, but they are what make you one of the most beautiful people I ever could have imagined.

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