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Primp of Contempt

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The visual expression of disinterest in current events or disdain through the checking up of one's appearance, whether intentional or unintentional on the character's part. Examples of this trope include looking at themselves in the mirror; checking, filing or painting nails; flipping hair; and applying makeup.

This trope is most commonly performed by female characters on the girly girl side (i.e. The Fashionista, Alpha Bitch, Proud Beauty, Valley Girl, etc.) but it isn't inherently Always Female. Male characters who are in touch with their feminine side (i.e. The Dandy, Agent Peacock) or appearance-conscious (i.e. The Casanova, The Fighting Narcissist) can fall into this trope. Can be done by the Deadpan Snarker and Silent Snarker to express sneer. This trope is often paired with Dreary Half-Lidded Eyes.

Compare to Vanity Is Feminine, as fixing your appearance is traditionally associated with femininity. A super-trope to Distracted by My Own Sexy and Hair Flip (depending on the circumstances). Can be a sub-trope of Dissonant Serenity depending on what situation the character is ignoring. A sister trope to The Snack Is More Interesting, where a character eats to show their lack of interest.


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    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Emperor's New Groove: After Kuzco fires Yzma, she's utterly flabbergasted and begins stuttering. Meanwhile, Kuzco checks his nails and completely ignores.
  • Encanto: Isabela dramatically gives Pepa some flowers in preparation for Antonio's ceremony. She then does a Hair Flip that flies her younger sister Mirabel's face, before telling her that she should stop getting in the way.
  • The Rescuers: Madame Medusa is at her vanity removing her makeup before going to bed when Penny comes in, asking to be sent back to the orphanage. For most of the scene, Medusa looks more at her reflection than at Penny, especially when she delivers the cruel line "Who'd want to adopt a homely little girl like you?"
  • Tangled: While Rapunzel is trying to spit out that she wants to leave her tower and see the floating lights on her birthday, Mother Gothel is only passively listening, with her biggest concern being looking at her face and skin in the mirror.
  • In the Novelization of Turning Red, when Mei claims she honors her parents by honoring herself, her friends disguise their disbelief by turning their attention elsewhere with Priya picking at her fingernails.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brainless Beauty Hilary Banks of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air provides the following examples:
    • In the episode "Bundle of Joy", Hilary imagines what it'd be like to have a new baby sister. In that daydream sequence, we see her treating her sister more or less like Geoffrey, fanning Hilary and shining her shoes. Twice she asks her sister how school was, and in the middle of explaining, Hilary interrupts, first adjusting her outfit and asking if it looks good and the second time fluffing her hair and asking if she should dye it.
    • "Stop Will! In the Name of Love" has Geoffrey leave Hilary in the kitchen while he attends to the baby. Hilary plops some potatoes into the pot and leaves her mitts on the stoves to file her nails. A fire starts on the stove, and Hilary takes a frying pan, smashes it against the fire and goes back to filing her nails as smoke rises. Geoffrey runs back into the room. She tells him there might be something wrong with the stove, before going back to her nails.
  • Glee: Resident mean girl Santana Lopez can often be seen filing her nails when the circumstances are mundane.
  • Henry Danger: Captain Man switches bodies with Frankini in one episode, and when Henry tries to get Frankini (in Captain Man’s body) to jump out a helicopter to save a kidnapped grandmother, Frankini says no. Henry tries to convince Frankini, but he simply checks his nails and replies “She’s not my grandma.”

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Sigvald the Magnificent, the champion of Slaanesh, is a Fighting Narcissist so obsessed with his appearance his retinue carries mirror-polished shields. He has the Stupidity rule (usually seen on huge beasts where they don't do anything for a turn), representing him ordering said retinue to hold their shields around him so he can admire himself from every angle.
  • In some flavor text for In Nomine, Andrealphus, Demon Prince of Lust does this to feign indifference while one of his underlings is tortured/interrogated by Asmodeus, Demon Prince of the Game, head of Hell's secret police.

  • Into the Woods provides an interesting example, in that the characters being spiteful are being primped by the one they have spite towards. To prepare for the Prince's festival, Cinderella's stepsisters Florinda and Lucinda demand that she does their hair and fixes a tear in one of their dresses.
  • The Spongebob Musical: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example is given by Karen in the opening number. While Plankton raves about how he'll one day rule Bikini Bottom, Karen yawns and checks her nails, showing that she's heard this all before and is highly skeptical.
  • Wicked: Near the beginning of the song "What Is This Feeling", where Elphaba and Glinda express their irritation for one another, Glinda pulls out her mirror compact mid-song and checks her hair, which Elphaba mocks in an exaggerated fashion.

    Video Games 
  • Disney Infinity: In the Marvel Battlegrounds playset, Loki checks his nails as he tells Black Panther he has done what he came to do in Wakanda and vanishes.
  • Mortal Kombat provides the following examples:
    • Mortal Kombat X: After performing a brutality, Tanya crosses her arms and looks at her nails, saying either "You disgust me" or "You may die now."
    • Mortal Kombat 11 provides two examples. One of Jade's taunts features her leaning against her staff while looking at he nails, often making snarky comments like "Take your time getting up." Mileena's grab features her turning around and checking her nails while Sais fly into her opponent. In another one of her attacks, she stabs her opponent in the eye multiple times, checks her nails, and lands one final stab.
  • This trope is practically the defining trait of Zeena, the only female member of the Deadly Six from Sonic Lost World. In one cutscene, she's filing her nails and taking too long for Zavok's liking. He has to boost her ego in order to get her to drop her file and get to work.
  • Resident Evil 5: Wesker stops to slick back his hair in the middle of a fight a few times.

  • Sleepless Domain: On this page, Sally swings her arms at Sylvia, who holds her At Arm's Length with one hand and checks herself in a mirror with the other, facing away from her with a bored expression.
    Alt Text: gotta make sure Sally didn't mess up her hair

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Blind Bandit", Aang, Sokka, and Katara go to Earth Rumble VI to find Aang's earthbending teacher. While Sokka's ecstatic for the upcoming brawls, Katara is obviously disinterested and gives the following comment while looking at her nails:
    Katara: [sigh] This is just gonna be a bunch of guys chucking rocks at each other, isn't it?
    Sokka: That's what I paid for!
  • DC Super Hero Girls (2019): In the first episode, Barbara gets her future teammates to all have detention together. Kara and Diana get into a fight where walls are broken, objects are thrown everywhere, and the entire room gets trashed. Karen, Jessica, and Barbara all get up to avoid getting in the middle of the conflict. Meanwhile, Zee is at her seat, applying lipstick and makeup while smiling placidly in her mirror.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • In "Arnold's Valentine", Ruth files her nails while on a date with Arnold, visually showcasing her boredom.
    • The episode "Arnold Visits Arnie" begins with Helga telling everyone what position they'll be playing in a baseball game. Harold whines about the clothes he has to wear for his position while Rhonda nonchalantly brushes her hair, tells Harold it's better to look good than to feel good, and walks away to her position.
  • Kim Possible: While Dr. Drakken gushes about his upcoming evil scheme, Shego can often be seen filing her nails unenthusiastically and giving snarky quips. Notably, her gloves are on most of the times when she uses her nail file.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the Pepé Le Pew cartoon "Louvre Come Back", Penelope's boyfriend confronts Pepe, having filled his lungs with extra air and putting a clothespin on his nose to avoid his stench. Recognizing him as "the jealous lover", Pepe acts out a prospective duel between the two, including a protracted death scene. At one point, he notices a hangnail and pauses to bite it, then resumes his performance — all the while ignoring the rival cat struggling for air.
    • In "Ali Baba Bunny", Daffy is being chased by Hassan, the guard of Ali Baba's treasure. He begs for Bugs to save him, even offering him a big diamond. Bugs is busy dusting himself off, and tosses the diamond aside, to Daffy's chagrin.
  • The Proud Family: In the episode "Strike", Penny, Dijonay, and LaCienega see Zoey working at Wizard Kelly's theatre and try to get her to give them some free tickets. Penny and Dijonay give her some complements, but LaCienega, fully forgetting her goal, defaults to her thinly-veiled insults while looking in her compact before getting a Prompting Nudge from Dijonay to try and say something nice.
  • ReBoot gives an example of this trope in the episode "Medusa Bug". While Megabyte's army loads up their weapons in preparation to attack her, Hexidecimal glances at her Femme Fatalons before beating them with ease. She looks at her nails later on in the episode, but in sadness and boredom, as all the citizens of Mainframe have been turned to stone by her titular Medusa Bug.
  • The Simpsons: In "Round Springfield", a visibly ill Bart tries to tell Mrs. Krabappel that he's sick and needs to go to the nurse's office. But she ignores him, saying that the school isn't responsible for anything happening to Bart, and then she starts filing her nails humming "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Stars And Stripes Forever" before finally allowing him to go.
  • Sofia the First: During the song "Perfect Slumber Party", Amber, Cilo, and Hildegard sing to Soia about how Sofia's friends have to fit in at their royal slumber party. Midway through the song, all three girls take a break to check their nails.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "The Chaperone", Pearl is stood up by her prom date and throws a tantrum in the Krusty Krab, shaking the building with her footsteps and flooding it with her tears. Mr. Krabs suggests Pearl go with Squidward to the dance. Cut to Squidward filing his nails while sitting on a barrel and leaning against a knocked over table with two fish lay on the floor next to him, obviously disaffected by Pearl's mood.
  • Total Drama Island: Two characters perform this trope in the sixth season.
    • Bowie does this twice. In the intro, he nonchalantly files his nails while letting a distracted Julia and Millie collide and fall over one another. He does it again in the penultimate episode while overhearing Priya confronting Millie over her notebook that he planted for the former to find, being very pleased over the outcome.
    • Teen actress Nichelle comes to the island to the adoration of a few of the other contestants. Priya screams to Nichelle about how much she loves her and Nichelle simply replies with “M’kay” while looking at her nails.


Video Example(s):


Zee Zatara

While Kara and Diana engage in a room-wrecking brawl, Zee Zatara calmly files her nails and applies makeup.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (18 votes)

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