Make-up tattoos for girl, 14, defended by mother

image captionSophie Watson says she wants to have her freckles lasered off

The mother of a 14-year-old County Durham girl who has had make-up tattooed on her face said they did not take the decision lightly.

Sophie Watson, from Spennymoor, had her eyebrows tattooed and lip and eye liner applied.

Her mother Joy said she gave permission for the treatment for her daughter, who competes in beauty pageants.

Child charity the NSPCC criticised the move and said girls should not be treated as "sex objects".

Ms Watson said she accepted what she had let her daughter do sounded shocking but said the changes were subtle.

It is illegal for an artist to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 - but the make-up procedure is not technically classed as a tattoo.

Although needles and an anaesthetic are used, it is classed as a cosmetic procedure and is not permanent because it fades after between two and five years.

However, Sophie does have two illegal tattoos - her name written on her wrist and flowers emblazoned on her stomach.

She had them done without telling her mother and no-one has been prosecuted because she will not reveal the tattooist's name.

Sophie said she was also hoping to have her freckles lasered off in the future and was glad to have the make-up tattoos.

She said: "I am happy. I just look a lot better.

"I like it now that it is always there and I don't need to bother with it every morning."

'Enhance features'

Her mother, who is a beauty therapist, said she gave permission for the make-up treatment.

She said: "I think she is old enough to be making these decisions with support from me.

"It wasn't something we looked into lightly."

She said she could understand it might seem shocking to people who did not understand the procedure.

"When you say she has had her make-up tattooed on it sounds really shocking. But actually it is done very subtly," she said.

"It's done to enhance her features, it's not done to change her, to make her look like somebody else. It's not done to change the way she looks."

But a spokeswoman for the NSPCC said: "The danger is that a growing climate of sexualisation encourages a view of girls as sex objects.

"All children should be valued for their abilities and talent. They should be free to grow up as children.

"Sadly, we have reached a point where many children get distressed because they think they don't look good.

"For some vulnerable children, this can even lead to mental health problems."