Author Zadie Smith has spoken out about the amount of time girls spend in front of the mirror, saying “girls are fools to waste time on beauty”.
Speaking about her seven-year-old daughter Kit at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Smith compared Kit’s behaviour with that of her brother.
“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 s*** if you waste an hour and a half doing your makeup.”
The author continued to speak about societal pressures, including current beauty trends, such as contouring.
“I saw that she had just started spending a lot of time looking in mirrors. It was infuriating me. I decided to spontaneously decide on a principle: that if it takes longer than 15 minutes don’t do it,” she explained.
“From what I can understand from this contouring business, that’s like an hour and a half and that is too long.”
“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.”
This is not the first time the author has spoken out about beauty standards. In 2013, on Desert Island Discs, the White Teeth author opened up about misogyny in writing. Smith recalled an incident where an Italian newspaper claimed she couldn’t be a good writer because she was too attractive:
“It is a really misogynistic and fascinating thought,” she said at the time.
“Because what it means is that if you are beautiful, then you have no need to be intelligent – it is a very sinister thought actually.”