Both of my granddaughters love “pace fainting.” No, it is not what happens to someone who’s in a foot race he’s unprepared for. It’s a way of saying “face painting” that, I guess, seems easier to say for them. Not only will they wait in line for upwards of an hour for this, but they seek out places where it is offered. I wondered about this; what is the attraction and what’s the hold on children – I think it’s more popular with girls than boys – for this somewhat silly (and expensive!) activity? I think I figured it out.
Remember when you were a child and your day, your activities, your meals, where you slept, what clothes you wore, etc. were all chosen by someone other than yourself, namely your parents? You had no control over these things. Likewise, if you had a sibling, you often had to share the attention from parents as well as their affection. It was rare to have them all to yourself. Sharing was the key word: you shared your bag of chips, your games, toys, sometimes your clothes and your space with this brother or sister who seemed never to leave you alone.
Well, when a little girl gets her face painted, she is in total control of the situation and, even more important, is in the
limelight for a good 15 minutes or so with no one else to share it with. It’s like me getting a mani-pedi. No responsibility other than to sit and take it all in. It’s all about ME!
First, the painter asks the child what design she’d like or what animal she’d like to look like. The decision is hers alone to make. Parents have no say in this. Then, the child is totally immersed in the ME-ness of sitting and getting all the lavish attention showered on her. She doesn’t have to share the experience or the result. It’s all about her. Everyone on line is eyeing her with envy because she’s in the limelight taking her well-deserved turn. When she’s finished, she inevitably gets positive feedback from the next few children waiting their turn.
Finally, when she’s finished, she continues to get appreciative stares and complimentary comments. “Wow, what a cute kitten!” “Ooooh, you look scary!” “Mommy, I want the same face painting!” “What a pretty butterfly!”
So, I figured it out. It has nothing to do with the paint or the design. After all, she’s the only one who CAN’T see it! It’s the child’s version of Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame!