10.19.2011

If people think you're dumb, it's your fault: Wear makeup

Earlier this week, there was an article in The New York Times that addressed a study which showed that women who wear makeup appear more competent.  I am not happy with this statement.  We are talking about "appearing competent" versus "being competent."  In a society that places so much pressure on women to be skinny, and pretty, all this study does is reinforce those behaviors.  I can just see the commercials now:
Harvard says people will think you're more competent when you wear make up, so buy this, this, and this and you'll rule the world.  But only if you use make up.
I really wish that the study had focused more on how a woman's appearance afftected her instead of how other people viewed her.  I have to say, there is a stark contrast in how I feel about myself when I'm slumming it on a Sunday, watching football with the hubby versus 7:00 AM when I walk out the door to go to work, dressed up, makeup on, and killer heels to complete my look.  I feel confident when I get to work, and I truly believe that it's confidence that makes women appear competent.  If I believe in myself, and what I can do, then I will appear competent.  But that feeling starts with me. 
Professor Etcoff argued that there has been a cultural shift in ideas about self adornment, including makeup. “Twenty or 30 years ago, if you got dressed up, it was simply to please men, or it was something you were doing because society demands it,” she said. “Women and feminists today see this is their own choice, and it may be an effective tool.”
I couldn't agree more.  But the same should apply for women who don't want to wear make up.  If I'm comfortable without any makeup and I walk into work with a take-charge attitude, that should be enough.  And dispite cultural differences between now and, say, the 60's, the gender inequality is still there.  It's bad enough that women have to work twice as hard to get to the same level as men, but now she has to wear makeup to do it.

Dr. Vickery, whose Ph.D. is in chemistry, added that cosmetics “can significantly change how people see you, how smart people think you are on first impression, or how warm and approachable, and that look is completely within a woman’s control, when there are so many things you cannot control.”
Are you fucking kidding me?  It's within a woman's control?  So basically, if she chooses not to wear make up and doesn't get ahead because people don't think she's as smart or as approachable, it's her fault.  Way to set feminism back thrity years.  Nice work on completely dismantling the fight for gender equality by making the failure of society to accept "un-madeup" women their fault.  In case you don't have your makeup on and don't understand what the above quote means, I'll translate.  After all, I have my makeup on so I'm smarter.

Translation:
If you don't wear make up and get passed up for the job or promotion, it's your fault.  You should have worn makeup so people would take you more seriously and think you were smarter.
I really feel like kicking Dr. Vickery in the baby maker right now.  That's the dumb, immature woman in me.  Clearly I took off all my makeup.

As a mother raising two kids, I wonder what I'm going to have to teach my children.  Should I teach my daughter that if she wants to get ahead in the world, she's going to need to wear makeup?  Or should I teach her that she should focus on what really matters, like education, experience, hard work, and determination.  And if she wants to wear makeup, then that's fine, too?  My focus has been, and will always be, confidence, trust, and ownership.  Be confident in who you are, trust in your abilities, and own your successes.  You are who you are because of what you have worked hard for, not by what people gave you because of how you look.

Bobbi Brown, the founder of her namesake cosmetics line, suggested that focusing on others’ perceptions misses the point of what makes makeup powerful.

“We are able to transform ourselves, not only how we are perceived, but how we feel,” she said.
God, I could kiss this woman.  I think I'll be using Bobbi Brown makeup more often.  And as for the company behind the study, Procter & Gamble, I have this to say:

Thanks for completely missing the mark on what could have been a credible study.  A change of one word would have made for just as interesting a study without alienating half the world's population.  It's likely I won't be purchasing any more Cover Girl products, if the money you make is going towards completely assinine, mysoginistic studies like this one.

:rant over:

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