When my son grows up, I want to advise him to stay away from women who wears too much make-up.

What is the disapproving word that expressed a woman who wears too much make-up?

For example, "Son, I'll tell you what, stay away from gaudy women" or "... flashy women".

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    I trust you'll grow impressive facial hair, and gesture with your pipe as you are saying it!
    – James K
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 7:01
  • @JamesK - Also, be sure to make this declaration in the drawing room, wearing your best smoking jacket. Brandy and cigars optional. Make the lad stand by the fire, whilst you sit in the best wing chair. Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 8:05
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    My father waited until I was 14 to deliver his 'advice about women'. It consisted of the following: 1. Do not put anything in writing (e.g. promises to marry). 2. Avoid women with red hair. 3. Avoid Welsh women. The last two, he explained, because 'they are bad tempered'. Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 8:25
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    Do I see some misogyny here? Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 8:26
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    As the facetious comments imply, there isn't really a modern way to say this because the idea of disapproving of make-up sounds old-fashioned. You would criticise a woman for her general behaviour, not what she puts on her face. Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 8:45

2 Answers 2


There isn't really a single noun for this. Most words relating to women who might typically wear a lot of make-up don't really focus on their make-up.

The word 'tart' as a noun really means 'prostitute', when applied to women. However you can use the term more neutrally, as in 'The restaurant was tarted up to make it look like a palace". If you said 'I want to get tarted up for the party', it doesn't meaning that you want to be a prostitute, but rather that you will wear sexy clothing, apply makeup, perfume, etc.

Therefore if you say 'tarty makeup', then that's modifying makeup, and it's not to say that the person is a tart (i.e. a prostitute), but that the makeup is 'excessive'.

'Gaudy woman' is absolutely fine. You can also refer to 'slap', which is a slang and mildly derogatory term for make-up, e.g., 'a woman with too much slap'.

  • 'Gaudy woman' is absolutely fine. Are you serious? Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 15:26
  • Are you in the habit of leaving comments that don't explain themselves?
    – thelawnet
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 15:45
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    'Gaudy woman' is an expression that will sound very strange in most English speaking societies. Old-fashioned and probably offensive. 'Are you serious?' is a way of expressing surprise and ridicule. Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 18:01
  • It's the sentiment that is old-fashioned and offensive. Complaining that you can't come up with terms to be sexist about women that don't sound outdated seems to be missing the point. If you wish to express outdated attitudes, it doesn't make much sense to demand modern language for said purpose. The term itself appears in print e.g. in Kate Chopin. The term 'gaudy' simply means garishly bright, which is certainly less offensive than implying that someone is a prostitute.
    – thelawnet
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 18:21

You could use the term 'painted lady', which sounds suitably Victorian.

Alternatively you could advise him to stay away from 'ladies of negotiable virtue'. By the time he's figured that one out, he'll be old enough to make up his own mind.

As you can probably tell by this answer & comments below the question, this is not going to be a popular attitude in this day & age. A woman, or indeed a man should he choose, ought to be able to dress & wear make-up to their own content, & not be disparaged &/or singled out or pigeon-holed for such choice.

  • the usual term is 'ladies of easy virtue', which means prostitute, as does 'ladies of negotiable virtue', which is if anything slightly more offensive. 'Ladies of negotiable virtue' certainly predates Pratchett in print.
    – thelawnet
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 15:42
  • I can't verify which book(s) Pratchett used that term in, but Pratchett's first book was in 1971, and there are several uses before that, e.g., Terry Brewster Thompson, Take Her Down a Submarine Portrait (1937), describing the lack of prostitutes in County Cork, also Essays Diplomatic and Diplomatic of Thomas A Bailey (1969), in which he describes a painting of the ceremony for completion of the Union Pacific & Central Pacific railroad as including prominent figures who had not been there, and eliminating ladies of negotiable virtue who certainly had.
    – thelawnet
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 16:13
  • Your suggested words are not so common. I asked CHatGPT and it suggested using "overdo". Can I say "stay away from women overdone with make-up"?
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 3:35
  • Honestly, I'd just stay away from this impending conversation entirely. It's is extremely out-moded & borderline misogynistic. Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 7:04

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