Rather than deconstructing the misogynistic demonization of feminine endeavors, Smith shows a limited understanding of why women use makeup.By Erin McLaughlin In a recent interview at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, novelist Zadie Smith expressed her disdain for young girls’ preoccupation with makeup and beauty, describing it as a waste of time and “infuriating”. “I decided to spontaneously decide on a principle: that if it takes longer than 15 minutes don’t do it”, Smith stated while retelling how she gave her 7-year-old daughter a 15 minute time limit when getting ready. As a mother, she could mean well as it’s easy for young girls to develop body-image issues when they are socialized to focus on how others perceive them, but that doesn't seem to be the main concern here. Smith dislikes the idea of spending too much time on one’s looks in general, regardless of age. As far as beauty in our current culture goes, there’s been an undeniable shift as of late. People of all ages, sexualities, and genders are increasingly represented in all corners of beauty, whether it be for self-care, as a hobby, or pursuing a career in it. But why is there still so much disapproval with participation in beauty? Fear lingers among women because we’re afraid of being seen as unintelligent and vain. Zadie’s reaction to vanity reveals that, as well as her forgetting that forcing one to choose between beauty and intellect is always a double-edged sword.
In discussing body positivity or fat positivity, there is always the overarching concept that beauty standards and the power of beauty are something we need to devalue instead of marketing “everyone is beautiful.” We are trained to believe that being