The Rich and Horrifying World of Toddler Makeup Tutorials

Among YouTube’s wildly popular beauty content is a creepy subgenre of young children giving makeup tutorials—and Kimye’s 4-year-old daughter is clamoring to get in on the action.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

North “Nori” West, the 4-year-old daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, is apparently itching to get into the beauty vlogging business.

Perhaps she’s been schooled in the art of how to make your nose and forehead appear smaller, as her mom did in a video tutorial promoting her new makeup line back in June. Or maybe she’s been watching her aunt Kylie Jenner apply various shades of Kylie’s Lip Kits in her Snapchat tutorials, which draw more than 10 million viewers.

Whatever the reason, Nori wants in on these money-making endeavors.

“My daughter watches so many YouTube tutorials and videos and she was unboxing the My Little Pony Colourpop collection and I thought to myself, ‘I wish I was recording this’ because her reaction was so funny,” Kim told Women’s Wear Daily in an interview promoting her new fragrance. “And then she did makeup on the My Little Pony that they gave and she said, ‘Mom, I want to do a YouTube video.’”

Kim was considering it—imagine the viral potential of Nori batting her curled eyelashes on her own YouTube channel!—but Kanye nixed the idea.

They compromised by letting North record videos for the family to “test it out,” according to Kim, who admitted she wasn’t sure her 4-year-old daughter was committed to beauty vlogging.

“I don’t know if it’s something she would really want to do,” Kim said, “but it’s always a struggle on how much you want to have exposed or how much access you want them to have to have to social media.”

Kim made no mention of the underworld of baby and toddler makeup tutorials on YouTube, some of which have garnered more than 10 million views. YouTube is already a rich and horrifying tapestry of beauty vloggers painting their faces and perfecting smoky-eye looks. (Between 2015 and 2016, YouTube’s beauty category grew 80 percent.) But this was next-level horror—the internet’s answer to Toddlers and Tiaras.

On the Aimalifestyle channel, for instance, 4-year-old Aima—“the world’s youngest makeup artist”—applies eyeliner with the same precision as a seasoned adult beauty vlogger. And Aima’s in good company: amidst YouTube’s vast baby and toddler vlogs and makeup tutorials, I found a newborn whose rosy cheeks were made rosier by her mother; a 3-year-old girl demonstrating how to “enhance your features” with lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow; and a 6-year-old showing off her new “color palette” and applying mascara with a steady, self-assured hand.

The YouTube tutorials reminded me of a similarly creepy social media trend, which involves swaddling and contorting sleeping infants into strange poses to make them look like sleeping adults or baby chicks. (See #babyphotography or #babyphotographer on Instagram.) Why must the parents of these children make them into viral phenomenons?

At least one YouTube video came with a colorful description presumably written by parents who felt obligated to justify publicly sharing their 5-year-old daughter’s makeup tutorial: “NO... she doesn’t wear this everyday… YES… She is beautiful the way she is. THIS IS JUST FOR FUN!”

Little girls lisping about which eyeshadow color is most appropriate for preschool are indeed cute. And rifling through your mother’s makeup kit is a rite of passage for many girls under the age of 6.

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But times have changed: Where the end result was once lipstick smeared all over the face, it’s now carefully daubed on and touched up with lipliner. (Pre-teens giving YouTube makeup tutorials on “how to look older with makeup when having a babyface” is an equally unnerving rabbit hole.)

This is all familiar and lucrative territory for the Kardashians. Kim frequently shows off her fashionable babies to her 100 million followers on Instagram, occasionally featuring North in brand-sponsored posts.

Last March, she Instagrammed a photo of her daughter wearing black lipstick with the caption “Goth Nori.” If Kanye is the only thing stopping Kim from commodifying her daughter’s cuteness, it’s only a matter of time before Goth Nori has her own beauty line and YouTube channel.