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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10.14.2011

Looking Forward: Honesty, Intimacy and Self-Discovery

When I started this blog (oh so long ago!), I set out with the intention of being blatantly honest with myself about who I am and what that means to me.  It turned into a blog about my weight, my marriage and my sex life, with the occasional witty, sarcastic observation.  This, of course, is all fine, because it was all honest.  But I find myself now officially in my 30's (which I love, by the way) and reflecting back on who I am.  It's a funny feeling when you realize that while you are being honest with yourself you are discovering more about who you are and who you want to be.

Reflecting back over my 20's is a bit harrowing, sometimes disturbing, often embarassing and always enlightening.  In my 20's I have experienced a lot: everything ranging from death to life and back again.

I have also learned a lot about who I am in my relationships, specifically with my husband.  After my son was born, I experienced a flux in hormones the likes of which I have never seen.  I was an emotional basket case for a solid two years.  Not only that, but the simple thought of my husband touching me was enough to make my skin crawl and my stomach turn.  He was lucky if we had sex once a month, and sometimes I found myself trying to make excuses as to why we couldn't. I went through the motions and most of the time I came, but really, I hated it. But what I hated more that I was denying my husband, so I dealt with it. 

After my daughter was born, things started looking up, but by that time it had been nearly three years since I had any positive experience with sex.  Once I had recovered fully from childbirth and my body was starting to bounce back a bit, I discovered that I was interested in sex again.  Not like I was before I had my son, but more so than after.  Intimacy came more frequently and I started feeling better about myself.  Then I went on Weight Watchers and dropped about 25 pounds.  That's when things really started changing.  I was confident and felt as sexy as my husband would tell me.  I'm sure he liked the turn around in my sex drive, too.

But through all of this, I still felt like something was "off".  Not bad.  I just felt like there could be more.  I loved what my husband and I had together, but after 9 years, things can get a bit methodical.  I didn't know what I wanted, so I just kept at what we had been doing because it worked.

Then I started reading.  My husband calls it smut.  I don't disagree.  He doesn't complain.  And while I read mostly for entertainment purposes, while he watched American Chopper, I started taking notes.  Now, one of the things I love about books is that it's my escape from reality.  I can totally immerse myself in a book and go off to a fantasy land that the author has created.  I become a part of the story (usually the heroine) and for those brief moments, I lead a different life.  But some of what I was reading started to creep up in real life.  I found myself craving some of the intimacy that was created in the books I was reading.  Of course, we all want the hero who will protect us from the bad guys and seduce us into a puddle of lust while telling us that he can't possibly live without us, but that wasn't what I was looking for.

What I was looking for was intimacy on a different level.  A layer of trust that hadn't been explored yet.  A way for my husband and I to connect on a deeper emotional level.  I wanted to give him something that I hadn't given anyone before.  I just didn't know what.

I'm slowly starting to recognize what that is.  I'm four days into my 30's and I'm doing a lot of thinking about who I was and who I want to be.  I want to be more honest with myself and my husband.  Not about what I do or say.  That's obvious.  But honesty about what I want from him and from our relationship.  I'm not being greedy.  In fact, I think it's the most generous gift I can give him.  If I am honest with myself about everything, including intimacy, then there is nothing more I can give.  I have essentially given him all of me.  And what better way to tell someone you love them than to give yourself up to them?

I'm sure that as I grow into my 30's, my new-found honesty will evolve and self-discovery will take me to new places.  I can see it happening now, even as I type out this post.  I'm excited for it.  I'm anxious for it.  And I can't wait.

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