Girls Are foolish To Waste Time On Beauty

Girls are fools to waste time on beauty so says British author Zadie Smith.

She was frustrated by the time it was taking her seven year old daughter to preen and stare at her reflection on a daily basis.

She expanded by saying that boys are finished getting ready and ‘out the door’ to achieve things.

In light of this frustration she imposed a 15 minute time limitation on mirror time saying to her daughter Kit that “You are wasting time, your brother is not going to waste any time doing this. 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 make-up.”

So, in a world where techniques such as contouring can see women putting (or troweling? 🙂 ) on make-up for well over an hour, sometimes a few times a day, whilst make-up and padded bras are being marketed to ever younger girls, is she right? Are you happy to see your daughters fixated by their appearance as a priority?



  1. It’s harmless The Ed. Let girls put on their make-up in peace.
  2.  Yes what an utter waste of life bucketing make up on daily is. I will point my daughter to more useful habits.

36 thoughts on “Girls Are foolish To Waste Time On Beauty

  1. I understand some women can feel more confident if they have taken time to get “made up” before venturing out. That says sad things about our society and how we judge others’ value. I doubt things will change though – the behaviour is too ingrained.

  2. Post data.
    1) Narcissism is a pathology. A good example are politicians in general and the Orange man living part-time on Penn Avenue. Or that woman with a terrible haircut on Downing St.
    2) Zadie Smith can easily “downplay” the issue since she appears to be both smart and beautiful.
    The Defense rests, your Honour.

      1. Settling. In the usual politicos’ stupidity. Since the school fell to its doom due to corruption, HEW and the mayor decided that schools could not re-open until official experts inspected each and every school. And issued a permit. Now 99% of schools have been inspected, but the mayor has decided that most should remain closed to not impact traffic… (Where is my gun?)

      2. In the drawer behind the mantle piece…come on! You’re wondering how I knew that right?

        Ah but what can you expect. We have people not living our lives telling us how to live our lives. It’s a worldwide annoying phenomenon. Good to hear some balance is coming back though.

      3. A “fair” assessment I guess. An average French lady, at the ceremony mourning one of the two 20 year old girls killed in Marseilles said: “How long are we going to let ourselves be slaughtered”?

  3. I don’t wear makeup. My beauty routine is pretty much entirely beauty sleep 🙂
    Honestly, I would love to live in a world where makeup was considered an art-form practiced by those so inclined, instead of a requirement to make female faces acceptable.

    1. Interesting your last line, ‘instead of a requirement to make female faces acceptable…’ I expect you said it lightly as a throwaway phrase but to get slightly deep about it, female faces ARE acceptable, it’s just that people keep brainwashing others that they are not no?

      My example is t’other day I saw a pic of Jamie Lee Curtis. I was taken aback because it was a naturally wrinkled face sans plastic surgery. It was weird because we are becoming slowly brainwashed into the total acceptance of completely unnecessary plastic surgery, many of which does not even make (mostly) women look young again but makes them look like The Joker in a wind tunnel. But this is now so much the ‘the norm’ that natural JLC looks weird.
      What say you?

      1. Joker in a wind tunnel – ha!
        I definitely believe that women’s faces are fine the way they are (I’ve even blogged about it – “I Don’t Wear Makeup”), but as you say, there’s the brainwashing that says women look “washed out” or “tired” or even “sick” if they don’t put some slap on. Although somehow this never applies to men of the same complexion.
        We need to retrain our eyes.

  4. It’s so easy to judge and if something doesn’t fit with how someone else thinks it ought to be, then it’s somehow wrong. If applying make-up and observing rituals soothe, then so be it. It’s a bit like my brother routinely being about two hours late for our family do’s…so now we tell him an earlier time. x

    1. Yep! I’m always correcting myself in my head before words come out so people generally think that I’m really easy going and accepting, but actually I just keep reminding myself that guess what, everyone has their own perspective.

      Lol and same here with people who are always late. I never nag I just tell them to get there 2 hours before anyone else. Job done! 🙂

  5. I loved Smith’s On Beauty. And on the one hand I understand Smith’s frustration about shallow interpretations of beauty but on the other I am surprised at her curbing her daughter’s natural behaviour. I was always a girl who was “not feminine enough” for people around me, so it frustrates me that any individual should be judged for doing what they feel like. Preen all you want little girl!

    1. I’m loving the different perspectives on this! Similarly when women say ‘I prefer to use my brain and not my body’ I always think, why? Surely they are both legitimate parts of you and can be used equally. It’s like tying your left arm behind your back and only using your right arm.
      Plus, yay to the tomboys! 😀

      1. Haha that is such a correct analogy. We should let people just be, and let them explore all of their potential. Btw, I love your articles very much. They are a quick read yet varied enough to pique my (short spanned) attention. Regards! And yes yay to the tomboys! 🙂

  6. Who’s letting their seven year old wear make up? If that’s what’s going on in her house maybe they’ve got bigger problems.

    I definitely think that girls (and boys) should be encouraged to value much more than their appearance although I don’t see a problem with taking pride in your appearance and, at a bare minimum, slicking on a bit of deodorant once those hormones kick in.

    I think, if you don’t want your daughter to over-emphasise her appearance, then you need to think about the behaviour you model for her. If mum spends an hour in the bathroom plastering on make-up, why wouldn’t daughter do the same thing? If you obsess about your weight, constantly putting yourself down, why wouldn’t your daughter?

    1. I agree although the problem being that today there are so many outside influences available at the click of a button or on TV for little girls to see.
      Perhaps it’s easy for Zadie Smith not to spend hours in front of the mirror because she is an accepted standard of beautiful, but also she most likely wasn’t the one influencing her daughter’s preening or makeup-ing (if she was even actually wearing any at 7!) If you look at images of her her make up is a five minute job at best and often goes out without any and still looks great. (Cow! 😀 😀 )

      1. After I read your post I did google her and you’re right, she is clearly a very beautiful woman who wouldn’t take more than a few minutes to get ready in the morning, so my assertion that she’s influencing her daughter is obviously wrong. I’d got the wrong impression that her 7-year-old was spending an hour in front of the mirror applying her make-up which is apparently not the case.

        Look, it’s normal for girls and boys to take more interest in their appearance as they grow older. I don’t have daughters but my boys take a remarkable amount of interest in their hair and clothing, especially if a party is coming up. If your child is spending ages in front of the mirror and stopping the family from getting out of the door on time then putting a time-limit in place is probably smart.

        I agree there’s too much emphasis on physical beauty in the media and society but at the same time, many women put on make-up for themselves, because they enjoy it and they like the way they look. I don’t wear any make-up, I have a friend who spends an hour applying hers. We’re all individuals. Women are not more or less successful because they put their make-up on.

  7. I have three very successful adult daughters. I taught them by example and by looking at them before they left home to be modest in all ways. They all dress well but modestly. Beauty runs in my family but we play it down not up. If you or your children are looking in the mirror a lot then you are prideful.

    1. Interesting… Am I to take it that you’re coming at this from a religious perspective? Only because most people probably wouldn’t have an issue with exhibiting pride in today’s world.

      Personally I always find it so much more attractive when people don’t know how beautiful they are and don’t over enhance it by ‘gilding the lily.’
      I also agree and don’t think folks are doing their job as parents if they don’t give their children the once-over before they leave home. Thanks for your thoughts DT!

  8. It depends on a person’s self-esteem.
    I agree that hours of contouring seems wasteful but if a little make up helps a person feel better about themselves I have no objection.
    Boys should spend some time adding sunscreen to their face and exposed areas to protect their skin too. I wish I had done this as a teenager. My skin is now leathery and damaged.

    1. Another good point re the self esteem, although conversely should girls be relying on brushes and paints to give them self esteem? Dunno – my jury’s out on that one, only because they should be allowed to be more than their looks as boys are.

  9. I think it’s both. It’s totally correct that girls should be brought up to understand and appreciate their own talents, skills, strength, and character, and to develop their own confidence in themselves. We need to really impress this on their minds constantly. But… we can’t pretend they don’t live in a world that bombards them with the opposite message ALL THEIR LIVES. We can’t pretend they won’t have to face that world on a daily basis and deal with the shit it throws at them. And we can’t pretend they won’t have hormones that demand they get noticed and get laid. We can’t forget how HARD it is to deal with all that even as pre-teens, but especially as teenagers.

    We need to help them navigate all that and still build confidence in themselves to take on the world. We also need to realize that people are individuals. Some girls are just… girly. They have the make-up and clothes and hair genes that gives them instinctual understanding of how it all it works, and you know something. THAT is a talent! It may seem like a waste of time, but we need the Coco Chanel’s of the world. It’s art. It’s beauty. And yes, it’s business.

    Girls can do all that. Even if they stare in the mirror too much.

    1. Lol, I can’t even argue with a single point!…Damn! 🙂

      It’s interesting you say that about the hormones too because look at nature that came up with the peacock and similar animals. They were made colourful and coquettish to attract a mate, which is nature’s equivalent to life success.

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