If you've watched a children's TV channel in the last few years, you may have unfortunately been on the receiving end of a rather spangly advert for even spanglier shoes. If you're still unsure what I'm talking about, I'll give you another clue. It features one of those tunes that sticks in your head for hours, until you're at the point where you want to rip off your own ears, even though you know it won't help.
Any purchase of these shoes comes with a free make-up set which neatly doubles as a mobile phone. In the advert, the girls are shown gleefully smearing lip gloss, eye shadow and blusher across their little cherubic faces whilst pretending to phone one another and chatting in whiny American accents.
Sparkly shoes aside, this advert throws up a subject that many people feel very strongly about: the use of make-up on little girls.
I'll start with my opinion: DON'T PUT MAKE-UP ON LITTLE GIRLS.
An inch-thick layer of foundation slathered on their downy cheeks will serve only to choke their little pores. They'll end up looking like those rather hideous beauty pageant contestants you find in Texas. They're children, for crying out loud. Keep them innocent for as long as possible - soon enough they'll be teenagers, at which point you won't be able to keep them away from the Max Factor, or L'Oreal, or Maybelline, or whatever.
But this isn't just about me, and so I asked for the opinions of other parents via Twitter, forums and my blog, asking how they felt about their girls wearing make-up. A common theme soon became apparent.
Every little girl wants to be like her mummy and, in emulating their mums, they are bound to want to smear war-paint on their faces as they watch their mums do the same (although in a slightly more controlled fashion). "I recall standing there at five years old with a bunch of pearl necklaces on, high heel shoes and my mum's make-up all over my face." says Tiffany. "Definitely trying to be like my mummy!"
It's an almost inevitable part of growing up, it seems; but the majority of mums that I spoke to were resolute in ensuring any make-up play stayed firmly within the house. "My daughter has had a little make-up box she's played with since she was five." says Lynne, from West Lothian. "She likes painting her nails and putting one eye shadow and lipstick, but it is for her to play with in the house. I wouldn't let her go outside with her make up on until she's older."
Her opinion is echoed by Helen. "My dear daughter has 'play make-up' that she'll put on when dressing up in her princess dresses, and she had lip gloss on at Christmas," she says, "but I'd never allow her to go out with make up on on a day to day basis."
So what age do mothers feel it is OK for their daughters to wear make-up outside the house? It seems, from the small group of mothers I spoke to, that this is a privilege reserved only for teenage years – a reflection of the restrictions imposed during their own childhood.
"I started wearing make-up when I was 13," recalls Lacey's mummy. "In my opinion, let them stay young for as long as possible." Becky, who works in cosmetics, only started wearing make-up when she was around 17; 'Princess' started wearing a full face of make-up when she was 14, and even then on weekends only.
So, is make-up on young girls acceptable? Well, yes and no. "