03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Can't Suri Cruise Play Dress-Up?

So, now it appears that little Suri Cruise has a makeup bag. Oh, the horror! Not only do Tom and Katie let her wear high heels and flamenco dresses, but she has her OWN MAKEUP BAG! What's next -- a profile on Her very own custom stripper pole?

Seriously, people, everyone needs to calm down about Suri's propensity to play dress-up. So she has her very own little dance shoes with heels. She just wants to be like her mama. What's so horrible about that? She obviously loves all things dress-up and girly -- she's just one of those girls. And her parents "indulge her" -- but why shouldn't they?

Read Katie Holmes Defends Suri's High Heels

The Daily Mail proclaims, direly:

Suri Cruise's love of makeup and high heels shows no sign of abating.

And despite recent criticism that she is allowing her daughter to grow up too quickly, mother Katie Holmes seems quite happy to continue to indulge her.

Katie, 30, and three-year-old Suri -- Ms. Holmes' daughter with husband Tom Cruise, 46 -- were snapped yesterday afternoon visiting the actor on the set of his upcoming film Knight and Day in Seville in Spain.

[Suri] clutched a pink makeup bag which appeared to contain an assortment of lip glosses in many different shades, although she didn't appear to be wearing any.

But in contrast, she also had a soft toy snuggled underneath her arm, which many would consider a much more appropriate accessory for a three-year-old girl.

Puh-lease. Anyone will tell you a makeup bag is MUCH more fun than a teddy bear. Just like most toddlers would rather play with their mom's car keys and cell phones than any stinky rattle.

As little girls go, there's a spectrum -- on one end is your typical tomboy, like my little sister who insisted on cutting her hair short and played with army guys until she hit puberty. On the other hand you have girls like, well, like me when I was little, and my daughter now. My favorite toys were a pair of giant rhinestone earrings and a collection of vintage hats. I lusted after Lee Press-On Nails and couldn't wait to be old enough to wear lip gloss (Bonnie Bell Lipsmackers being a poor substitute).

And then, there are all the girls in between. Suri obviously, for right now at least, falls on my end of the spectrum. And if she were my daughter, I'd do exactly what Katie's doing. Let her play.

Here's a little story. The other day my daughter, Isabella, and her playdate played dress-up. After some time up happily spent in Isabella's bedroom, pulling clothes out of drawers and enacting quick change upon quick change, they appeared downstairs, ready for a snack, dressed in a pair of fabulous outfits only a pair of 6-year-olds could love. Isabella wore shorts, a sparkly T-shirt, an Obama pin, sunglasses, a witch's hat, and -- you guessed it -- a pair of Cinderella play heels. Her playdate was slightly more understated in a summer dress, a crown, fake earrings and... another pair of high heels.

Would I have let them play outside, or even walk to the park, if the weather had been nice? Yes! Absolutely! Granted, they wouldn't have made it very far in those shoes -- but I'd have some flip-flops on hand for when they realized that. But they would have had a blast -- and despite their finery, would still have enjoyed playing outside. Believe it or not, it's possible to run and jump and swing and slide and get dirty AND wear dresses. (Yes! Even flamenco dresses!) But here's the difference between my daughter and Suri Cruise. No one's hiding outside my house, or at the park, with a telephoto lens waiting to snap her picture so the next day all the tabloids and websites can scream "ISABELLA WEARS WITCH'S HAT AND HIGH HEELS!"

On the other hand, here's another little story. When Isabella graduated from pre-school at the tender age of 5, her classmate got taken to have her "hair and makeup done" for the occasion. I was appalled.

Read Dressing Your Daughter as a Slut This Halloween?

Because there's a big difference between playing dress-up and dressing up. There's a difference between letting a little girl play with lipstick and letting her wear it out to dinner as part of her ensemble. And that's where people seem to me to be confusing things with Suri Cruise. The difference between Suri and other little girlie-girls is that Suri happens to be the daughter of two very, very famous people. Suri lives much of her life in the line of paparazzi fire.

So, you may say, where do you draw the line, lady? When it is cute and imaginative and a girlie-girl just having fun, and when does it veer into Roman Polanski territory? To some extent, that answer is different for every parent. I let Isabella wear light-colored nail polish but she does not leave the house with makeup and she does not have pierced ears and she will wear pleather over my dead body. My husband would ban all nail polish and even play-makeup in the house until she turned 35.

But, as I try to explain to him, it's not about growing up "too quickly." It's about PLAYING. She wants to be like me. She wants to dress up. Is that ALL she does? No. She plays soccer and does pottery and swims, plays hide-and-seek and a host of other good, healthy stuff. And who's to say what Suri does when she's not being snapped by photogs?

So let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. The negotiations will get trickier as Suri and Isabella get older, but really, people -- child-size heels are not a gateway drug to 10-year-olds dressing like Lindsay Lohan.

Yes, it freaks me out that tweens are getting bikini waxes. Yes, I have a problem with slutty Halloween costumes for little girls, and precocious sweatpants with JUICY emblazoned across a child's butt. But a little girl -- who, not incidentally, is almost ALWAYS with her mother (and often her father) in these photos, not some nanny -- a little girl that loves to play dress-up? There's nothing wrong with that.

Cross-posted at