SISTER SITES
The Fashion Spot Momtastic
FOLLOW US
Makeup

Girls Are Fools to Spend Time on Makeup, Says Zadie Smith

Author imposes 15-minute mirror rule on daughter because beauty is a "waste of time"

Best-selling author Zadie Smith fired up the internet when she recently shared that she imposed a 15-minute mirror time limit on her 7-year-old daughter. She noticed that her daughter was spending significantly more time in front of the mirror than her son, so Smith implemented this measure to avoid derailing her little girl's self-image and self-esteem. "I explained it to her in these terms: You are wasting time. Your brother is not going to waste any time doing this," she describes. "Every day of his life he will put a shirt on, he's out the door and he doesn't give a shit if you waste an hour and a half doing your makeup."



Zadie Smith
Image via Getty

Smith's comment came within a larger discussion about gender performances, beauty practices, and esteem -- topics which she addresses in her novel, "On Beauty." "From what I can understand from this contouring business, that's like an hour and a half, and that is too long," she explains. "It was better than giving her a big lecture on female beauty. She understood it as a practical term and she sees me and how I get dressed and how long it takes."

But her remarks have caused quite a debate amongst the beauty community, with the implication that those of us who do indulge in blowouts and brow-shaping are frivolous, misguided and, yes, maybe even a little stupid.

On the one hand -- Smith is right. Guys get off way more easily than girls do, and there can be enormous pressure to prettify yourself whether you want to or not. Just this week, model and Kylie Jenner BFF Jordyn Woods told Refinery29, "It's hard being a teenager, no matter who you are, because with social media, there's so much pressure. Kids now are skipping the awkward phase; they're 11 years old with a full face of makeup and lash extensions! It's so much pressure to fit society's standards."

Woods also goes on to say that as a tomboy, "I never cared about this stuff until I started to hang out with girls who wore full faces of makeup and then I was like wait, I need to get in on this... But now, I'm starting to realize less is more."

I don't think anyone can fault Smith for wanting to keep her daughter shielded from these influences for as long as possible. And I'm not sure any of us think a 7-year-old girl needs to be primping for longer than 15 minutes. Still, it's important to distinguish that beauty practices can be done for fun, creative expression, and self-care, and not out of necessity or insecurity.

Zadie Smith has got the right attitude that it is important to model an example of ample self-love and appreciation of your natural beauty to your daughter. But there are larger implications at play -- namely, that wearing makeup is anti-feminist, and we have very mixed feelings about this.

In her book "The Beauty Myth," Naomi Wolf explains that the real issue isn't whether women wear makeup or not -- it's the lack of choice (i.e., feeling like it's compulsory in order to fit in). One might argue that Smith is taking that choice away from her daughter, at least in the short-term, (albeit, so that not wrestling with these issues at such a young age).

But as Jordyn Woods points out, there are bigger influences at play -- namely, your friends. And if all of your friends are doing it, chance are, so, too, will you. (Who hasn't put on makeup in the school bathroom?)

Yes, we agree that there are unfair pressures on women to look a certain way. And it's harder than it should be to show up at work or school without a lick of makeup -- especially when it's met with comments like, "Are you sick?" or "You look tired." Which is why it's especially refreshing to see women reclaim their natural beauty with no-makeup selfies.

But we also need to accept that wearing makeup can be artistic and transformative. If your daughter discovers that she enjoys experimenting with beauty products and her appearance, that doesn't mean she is on a downward spiral towards shrinking self-esteem. Surely, at the tender age of 7, instilling values of practicality and priorities are essential. She's her mom -- and she's allowed. But it can also do more harm than good to impose judgment and condescension onto others for the way they choose to make themselves up and present their face to the world -- contoured or not. I can appreciate saving time in one's morning routine. As a bonafide "lazy girl," it's a no-brainer to opt to hit snooze over a long-winded morning beauty routine. But this is what I would call "adulting". This is something that I find most women come into in their adult years when time is of the essence and streamlining a daily routine becomes all about quick tricks and shortcuts to save time and energy.

But at the age when young girls have fewer responsibilities and a more lax schedule, there exists a freedom to gravitate to mirror time if one is so compelled to. It's important to distinguish that beauty practices can be done for fun, creative expression, and self-care, and not out of necessity or insecurity. On one hand, Zadie Smith has got the right attitude that it is important to model an example of ample self-love and appreciation of your natural beauty to your daughters. But on the other hand, makeup is an art form and if your daughter discovers that she enjoys experimenting with beauty products and her appearance, that doesn't mean she is on the road to a downward spiral and shrinking self-esteem. Surely, at the tender age of 7, instilling values of practicality and priorities are essential. But it can likely do more harm than good to impose judgement and condescension onto others for the way they choose to make themselves up and present their self to the world.

EDITORS' BEST OF

20 Best Products for Curly Hair

Read More

16 Best Anti-Aging Serums

Read More
leave a comment
Welcome to TotalBeauty.com!
Ready to unleash your inner beauty junkie? Enter your email and check the boxes below to get free samples, exclusive deals, discounts at Total Beauty Shops, and expert beauty tips delivered straight to your inbox!
Email to a friend



monitoring_string = "e4ea8133a649aad124e80f99f8831005"