Four-Year Old in Make-Up: How Young Is Too Young?

A mom has ignited a debate about her daughter's new fascination with cosmetics.

April 30, 2012— -- A mommy blogger who wrote about her child's new fascination with adult cosmetics has ignited an online debate over how young is too young for girls to become interested in beauty.

Lindsay Cross wrote on the website about how her 4-year-old daughter Brenna's interest in cosmetics came about after the young girl watched her apply make-up before attending events. When she shared how applying cosmetics soon became a special bonding routine between mother and daughter, she didn't anticipate the intense reaction from the online community and beyond.

"When I wrote the piece I didn't think it was that monumental of a deal," Cross told ABC News. "I didn't think that it was something that was just too out of the norm … I did notice some articles that said 'Suri Cruise wears very bright lipstick,' and there were so many people who were critiquing their parenting choices, because this 5-year-old is wearing make-up. I was like – 'of course she does, she's 5 and her mom wears lipstick.'

"I think that [in] parenting, we all want everybody to be like us, because I think then that means that we did it right," she added.

Reaction to Cross's article ranged from Internet commenters who say that she is allowing her daughter to fall prey to society's notions of beauty at far too young an age, to a psychiatrist who maintains that this can lead to an unhealthy desire for flawlessness.

"As someone whose mom couldn't leave the house without being done-up, and subsequently infused this into her daughters' psyches, I say watch out," one commenter wrote. "Please don't help your daughters fall into the 'pretty' trap so young."

Adolescent psychiatrist Henry Paul agrees, saying that 4 years old is too young for a girl to be wearing make-up.

"The use of make-up in some way can be addictive, and what these children would be addicted to is the pursuit of perfection -- the superficial, skin-deep, I'm only as good as I look [attitude]," Paul said.

Cross, however, maintains that her daughter's make-up is just child's play.

"I think that with make-up, for her, it's a way for her to be like her mom. I don't think that she puts two and two together, where you have to wear make-up so that you can present yourself to the world," Cross explained.

Cross says that when she brings her daughter out, most people don't notice that Brenna is wearing make-up, as she does not wear red lipstick, eyeliner mascara, or foundation.

When asked, Brenna said that she likes to wear make-up "because it makes me pretty."

Cross says that she does understand that it is contradictory to tell her girl that one doesn't have to wear make-up to be beautiful, but that she's allowed to because she feels the prettiest when she puts it on. She says that she intends to have a more serious conversation on the matter when Brenna is older.

For now, Cross say she just wants her daughter to enjoy being a child.

"Now it's dress-up and playing pretend," she said. "It's playing that she's older. And I think that as she gets to be a bit older, she'll look at it differently, and well talk about it differently."

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