Makeup-shaming is a thing that women have to deal with on an annoyingly regular basis. Either we're shamed *into* makeup and wanting a perfect look, or we're shamed *out* of it by people who claim we're shallow AF for liking a beat face and a mean set of eyelashes.
Damned if we do and damned if we don't. This is why author Zadie Smith's recent comments on women and beauty put me on pause.
She considers women caring about beauty to be a waste of time.
During a book festival talk, Smith shared that she enforces a 15-minute time limit for her 7-year-old daughter to get ready, as reported by HuffPost. She points toward unrealistic beauty standards that can affect girls and women as her reason for wanting to stop her daughter from putting too much weight on her appearance.
"I explained it to her in these terms: you are wasting time, your brother is not going to waste any time doing this," she said. "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.”
Smith also specifically named contouring as an unnecessary way to spend time, but I beg to differ because contouring is pure art! I mean, has she seen the things that can be done with the right contour shade and a mean highlighter?
Zadie is right: Your appearance should NOT be the thing you spend most of your time thinking about. But makeup is more than just a way to look "better" for other people.
What about women who spend extra time doing their makeup because it's an actual hobby that makes them happy? Or girls who really, really love their hair and put in a few extra minutes getting it just right because that's how they like it? What about people who love the artistry involved in makeup? What about us?
Beauty routines are not an anti-feminist conspiracy. They are a relaxing part of self-care for some people. There are so many different methods and some people even enjoy making a habit of mastering them all one by one.
Zadie Smith not wanting her daughter to compare herself to mainstream beauty standards is, of course, a wonderful thing. Still, she seems to think that beauty regimens exist solely for the benefit of the male gaze, and therefore no significant time should be put into appearance.
But that's baloney, babes.
Sometimes we enjoy the mirror because we love what we see. It's a great thing to encourage people — kids especially — to continue to feel that way about the way they look.
There's no need to tell us that we shouldn't care about appearance because boys and/or men don't. Clearly, men are not as pressured to maintain a certain look as heavily as women are, but there are definitely men who pay close attention to their appearance; they are no less valuable than the men who don't.
Women and girls deserve the right to choose how involved they want to be in their appearance, all the way down to their beauty routines. It's not shallow for anyone to care about makeup and put time into getting it just right. If that's how you choose to celebrate yourself, then so be it. As long as the time put into beauty is your choice, then carry on.
Let's not get so lost in pushing women out of one state of oppression that we push them right into another one.
Zadie can choose what she wants for her own face. Let the rest of us do the same.