October 14, 2011

"Wearing makeup... increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability, her competence and... her trustworthiness..."

According to a new study.
The study’s 25 female subjects, aged 20 to 50 and white, African-American and Hispanic, were photographed barefaced and in three looks that researchers called natural, professional and glamorous. They were not allowed to look in a mirror, lest their feelings about the way they looked affect observers’ impressions....

“I’m a little surprised that the relationship held for even the glamour look,” said Richard Russell, an assistant professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa....

“There are times when you want to give a powerful ‘I’m in charge here’ kind of impression, and women shouldn’t be afraid to do that,” by, say, using a deeper lip color that could look shiny, increasing luminosity, said Sarah Vickery, another author of the study and a Procter & Gamble scientist. “Other times you want to give off a more balanced, more collaborative appeal.”
So the old colloquialism "I'm putting on my warpaint" — when applying lipstick — is quite apt.

They (the NYT) got a female lawprof to opine:
“I don’t wear makeup, nor do I wish to spend 20 minutes applying it,” said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University who wrote “The Beauty Bias” (Oxford University Press, 2010), which details how appearance unjustly affects some workers. “The quality of my teaching shouldn’t depend on the color of my lipstick or whether I’ve got mascara on.”
Don't men have more cause to complain? They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch.
She is no “beauty basher,” she said. “I’m against our preoccupation, and how judgments about attractiveness spill over into judgments about competence and job performance. We like individuals in the job market to be judged on the basis of competence, not cosmetics.”
Can you be against the structure of human psychology? The participants in the study weren't "preoccupied" by anything. They were simply revealing something about how the mind instinctively works.

Presumably, Rhode would say that if there's a natural and subconscious response, it's our responsibility to understand it, drag it into our consciousness — consciousness raising — and fight it off. That's what we'd say if a study, for example, proved that the darkness or lightness of skin color influenced our judgment of a person's likability, competence, and trustworthiness.

But race is an immutable characteristic, and makeup (like clothing or hairstyles) can be varied at will. It's empowering that a woman can make decisions about the level of makeup, and it allows women with different degrees of natural beauty to use their minds — through judgment — and skills — with a steady hand — to compete in the social and the commercial sphere. It's similar to the way a person with less inborn intelligence can read a lot and study hard and thereby get ahead.

What's bad about that?

72 comments:

Lucius said...

How can beauty ever be unjust?

Or how can dullards read and understand?

Paddy O said...

"They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch."

That's pretty much the only purpose of a tie.

Scott M said...

Maria Bamford:

"My mother says, 'Honey, when you don't wear makeup you look mentally ill.' So now when I go home to visit, I'm sure to wear dark green eye shadow and a thick line of lipstick around my mouth...'Baby look pretty now, mama?'"

She's a genius.

Fred4Pres said...

It can be interesting to see a woman for the first time without makeup.

Jake said...

What's bad about it? Nothing. That Prof. is just letting the world know how much better she is than everyone else. She won't wear makeup because she's so insecure.

rhhardin said...

Makeup makes women look empty-headed, for a good reason.

CyndiF said...

20 min to apply? One of us is doing it wrong.

MarkG said...

I should be pointed out that most of the judges of these women were women themselves.

Scott M said...

It's similar to the way a person with less inborn intelligence can read a lot and study hard and thereby get ahead.

Not mentioned, but far more important as it crosses the gender gap unlike makeup...so far. If someone can study hard a thereby get ahead, someone can work on their diction and lose what many consider, whether they will admit it openly or not, to be a sign of inferior intelligence and ability. An "urban" diction can sink you pretty quick, followed by a deep southern accent.

Both can be overcome or mitigated with hard work.

Same thing, right?

EDH said...

Althouse said...
Can you be against the structure of human psychology? The participants in the study weren't "preoccupied" by anything. They were simply revealing something about how the mind instinctively works.

You forget that "preoccupation" is the result of a media culture, carefully inculcated by advertising, and driven and reinforced by hierachical capitalism.

Haven't you been listening to the occupiers?

Indeed, why do you think she called it "preoccupation"?

David said...

Bow before the variable power, but do not make them into sex objects. Unless they want you to. This time.

Welcome to the minefield.

TMink said...

"I’m against our preoccupation, and how judgments about attractiveness spill over into judgments about competence and job performance."

Is she also against gravity? The beauty bias is apparently hard wired into us, as is an appreciation for tall people and charisma in general. It is in our neurons and likely nothing can be done about it. Why tilt at windmills, or why tilt at this windmill?

She could use some perspective. Or a nice makeover.

Trey

Freeman Hunt said...

It doesn't take twenty minutes to put on makeup. It shouldn't take more than five minutes. If one had a routine, it could take 60-90 seconds.

Scott M said...

You forget that "preoccupation" is the result of a media culture, carefully inculcated by advertising, and driven and reinforced by hierachical capitalism.

What has Kwanzaa got to do with makeup?

Class factotum said...

The quality of my teaching shouldn’t depend on the color of my lipstick or whether I’ve got mascara on.”

Does it depend on if she has showered? Combed her hair? Ironed her clothes? Brushed her teeth? Cleaned her fingernails?

Why not use every weapon at your disposal to enhance your power?

pm317 said...

It's empowering that a woman can make decisions about the level of makeup, and it allows women with different degrees of natural beauty to use their minds — through judgment — and skills — with a steady hand — to compete in the social and the commercial sphere.

Do I sense sarcasm and mockery here? Women like that Stanford prof (and me) who refuse to play these silly little games with other women, find ourselves in academia where it is a virtue not to use makeup.

And
Can you be against the structure of human psychology? The participants in the study weren't "preoccupied" by anything. They were simply revealing something about how the mind instinctively works.

Isn't psychology all about human conditioning? The participants are 'conditioned' to respond one way for ages about women and their place in society. This makeup thing reinforces the same. They have to do things that men are not expected to to compete in a man's world. I know you'll quibble about me calling it a man's world. But what else is it when you don't even have proportional representation of women in all spheres of human life that are significant?

Scott M said...

But what else is it when you don't even have proportional representation of women in all spheres of human life that are significant?

Better, funnier banter? Nirvana? Easier?

Ann Althouse said...

""They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch." That's pretty much the only purpose of a tie."

Use a clip-on tie for easy power on-and-offage.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Sometimes I find myself in court when they bring through a group of female prisoners (jailees waiting to make bond or have trial or being held in contempt for something, not necessarily hardened criminals). It always feels shocking to me to see so many women without makeup- they all look so sad and truly pitiful. I guess a lot of it is just what we are used to- how often do you see women in public, particularly women who are not, say, young college girls at the peak of their attractiveness, who have not put any care into their face or hair?

- Lyssa

Ann Althouse said...

"You forget that "preoccupation" is the result of a media culture, carefully inculcated by advertising, and driven and reinforced by hierachical capitalism. Haven't you been listening to the occupiers? Indeed, why do you think she called it "preoccupation"?"

I'm not sure what you're saying, but it gave me an idea for a new political movement: Preoccupy Wall Street!

vet66 said...

I can't get the picture of Piven out of my subconcsious at her recent presentation at Dartmouth. Not only did she manage to impress us with her ignorance but matched it with her gallic disregard for beauty.

Whatever happened to looking your best as a measure of your self-esteem, self-respect and power projection? Being all you can be with what GOD gave you is one measure of a leader and someone to be taken seriously.

wv: horsagon
what most of us look like we are pulling before putting ourselves together for public display in the morning.

Ann Althouse said...

"It doesn't take twenty minutes to put on makeup. It shouldn't take more than five minutes. If one had a routine, it could take 60-90 seconds."

1. Foundation. 10 seconds, max.

2. Lipstick. 10 seconds.

3. Mascara. 1 minute, max.

Any woman should be able to use those 3 items easily and routinely. There's nothing to whine about. You can choose not to use them if you want, but the argument that it's so much trouble is stupid. It's less work than shaving, and no one gives a damn about the effort men put into shaving.

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gerry said...

What if you stutter while applying makeup? There must be a federal grant somewhere to ameliorate that horror of horrors.

Scott M said...

1. Foundation. 10 seconds, max.

2. Lipstick. 10 seconds.

3. Mascara. 1 minute, max.


How does changing lanes and merging affect those times?

Scott M said...

There must be a federal grant somewhere to ameliorate that horror of horrors.

There's no federal payouts for it, but there is a "solution" they've been finalizing.

Ann Althouse said...

"It always feels shocking to me to see so many women without makeup- they all look so sad and truly pitiful. I guess a lot of it is just what we are used to- how often do you see women in public, particularly women who are not, say, young college girls at the peak of their attractiveness, who have not put any care into their face or hair?"

Yes, the issue of makeup and the older woman is important. If you wear too much, the whorish look is really bad, not kind of cool and edgy. If you don't wear any or wear very little, you can look very bland and faded and tired.

dgh said...

A woman who doesn't wear any makeup has already told you a lot about herself. (Think radical feminist). Proceed from there.

MarkW said...

"Don't men have more cause to complain? They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch"

Or maybe they do but most don't realize it and rarely use it. I mean, virtually every man who appears on camera for living wears makeup.

YoungHegelian said...

"But what else is it when you don't even have proportional representation of women in all spheres of human life that are significant?"

Human Nature.

Why do men seem to have an edge up?

They have Courage.

Can you imagine a group of 18-22 yr old women climbing out of foxholes and taking out a machine gun nest? No, I can't either. But yet we ask young men to do this as a matter of course.

Combine brains or brawn with courage and it's a winning mix.

ricpic said...

Hispanic women pluck their eyebrows out and then pencil them back in, absolutely horrendous.

pm317 said...

@Althouse Any woman should be able to use those 3 items easily and routinely.

It is not about how long it takes. It is about a choice and for women who don't want to wear makeup (because men don't have to) to receive the same consideration. Makeup is an unnecessary burden and an artificial barrier that restricts women. Find me a similar thing that men HAVE to do to get ahead.

Scott M said...

A woman who doesn't wear any makeup has already told you a lot about herself. (Think radical feminist). Proceed from there.

Lack of makeup alone isn't a key indicator for membership in the Unshorn Sisters Of The Apocalypse. You have to get a hpsi (hairs per square inch) count from their legs.

carrie said...

Looks shouldn't matter, but they do. Another sad aspect of human nature. I wear very little makeup. I grew up with the feminists in the 60s and 70s and we believed that makeup (and especially long fingernails) held women back, and I still believe that. Of course Gloria Steinman was always into looking good, so even at the height of the feminists movement in the 60s and 70s the feminists didn't agree on this issue either.

Scott M said...

Don't men have more cause to complain? They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch

Posture is a huge indicator for a man. Although it likewise says things about a woman, a man not standing with shoulders back and back straight is projecting weakness.

pm317 said...

Yes, the issue of makeup and the older woman is important. If you wear too much, the whorish look is really bad, not kind of cool and edgy. If you don't wear any or wear very little, you can look very bland and faded and tired.

wow, this whole discussion is icky, especially when you bring in age. There is a person, thinking and feeling human behind this object you are so unemotionally critiquing. And you're only critiquing and harshly only half the human population.

prairie wind said...

I'm not sure what you're saying, but it gave me an idea for a new political movement: Preoccupy Wall Street!

Wall Street is preoccupied.

E.M. Davis said...

Again, missing the "no shit" tag.

ricpic said...

pm317 hasn't a clue that women WANT to paint their faces and couldn't be deterred from doing so under any circumstances.

Kit said...

There's nothing to whine about. You can choose not to use them if you want, but the argument that it's so much trouble is stupid. It's less work than shaving, and no one gives a damn about the effort men put into shaving.

It can be too much trouble - and not because of the time involved. Some of us don't quite know what we're doing (colors, materials, brands, application), so, most days it's just easier to not bother. And too, it just really doesn't fit my lifestyle.

It actually seems like more work than shaving, at least with an electric (as my guy does).

TWM said...

Young women with perfect skin look great without makeup, and fantastic with it. Older women can usually take one of two paths. Don't wear any and look bad (there are exceptions of course) or wear a little and look good.

Wearing a lot whether young or old usually looks bad.

As to what is says about a woman past whether she looks nice with or without it, well, that just says more about the person judging than the woman herself.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Find me a similar thing that men HAVE to do to get ahead.

Shaving (or having very well-maintained facial hair, but that's rare); wearing a tie (even when it's 98 degrees outside); wearing long pants and a suit jacket/long sleeved tucked in shirt when it's really hot (we gals can almost always get away with a skirt or dress, and have a lot more flexibility on tops); not having anything distinctive that shows one independance showing (jewelry, an unusual hair cut, etc are all out).

I like wearing make up, but even if I didn't, I'd still take it over the men's deal.

- Lyssa

Max said...

I'm just a blue collar guy from New Jersey and I don't know much but, I know circus clowns when I see them. I've told my daughters hundreds of times that men don't like makeup on women. Are you listening? MEN DON'T LIKE MAKEUP! Instead, what commands a man's attention is a healthy, physically in shape appearance and NO makeup. But, what do I know. I'm just a girl watchin' guy who get's turned off by women who try to be something that they are not! Lest you think I'm a misogynist, I think this also applies to men who drink massive amounts of body-building fluids and spend more hours in front of the mirrors in the gym than actually exercising. By the way, I can still bench 300Lbs :-) !!!!!

ricpic said...

The mens' deal is torture!!!

Scott M said...

I don't think women of color age as poorly as well-to-do white women who have used chemical products for years, for example.

What does this even mean? Purly my own opinion, but Asian women and American Indian women age horribly in comparison to other ethnicities. That's purely my own as-objective-as-possible observation. Lumping so many different groups into "women of color" just seems silly.

pm317 said...

Competence? Who cares about competence? If the OLD woman does not know to apply paint to her face or if she does not want to, she is screwed (according to some people here). Who wants to look at her tired, old face when she comes to work every morning and stays late at night getting the work done?

pm317 said...

lyssalovelyredhead said..
--------------
blah, women who don't wear makeup keep a clean face, wear suits, good shoes and such.. painting the face artificially (add wearing jewelry) to enhance some purported idea of beauty is not the same thing as shaving in men.

Kit said...

Or ...not. Depends, perhaps, on how much time the older woman spends in the sun, getting fresh air, and how well her circulation system is working.

Exactly. Also, adding a smile. It does wonders.

And thank you, too, Max.

Scott M said...

blah, women who don't wear makeup keep a clean face, wear suits, good shoes and such.. painting the face artificially (add wearing jewelry) to enhance some purported idea of beauty is not the same thing as shaving in men.

Why not? You're advocating a natural look for women, but a natural look for a man would include a thick beard in most cases, casino owners excepted.

Scott M said...

(Do you consider Asian women to be "women of color"? That's a new one to me)

I have always understood "people of color" to basically, and incorrectly mind you, mean everyone not "white".

Cheryl said...

Regarding older women looking faded:

It's a fact that women of all ethnicities lose pigment and fade as they get older. I used to have a shop that had many, many women customers in the 50-65 age range, and it was abundantly clear how you fade out. I see it on myself, too. At 43 I have to wear lipstick--five years ago I could just wear clear gloss because I had great natural color. Since I'm chasing four kids around I'm outside a lot, and I exercise, but there isn't anything to be done but adapt.

It's just good grooming, like deodorant, or a clean shave or neatly groomed beard for a man.

Incidentally, it turns out that purple is a fantastic color for most women because it doesn't wash anyone out. I could sell purple to any person of any age.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

blah, women who don't wear makeup keep a clean face, wear suits, good shoes and such.. painting the face artificially (add wearing jewelry) to enhance some purported idea of beauty is not the same thing as shaving in men.

Why not? Men who don't shave can still keep a clean face (my husband's face gets severely irritated if he shaves more than once every 4-5 days. Fortunately, he's light haired and works in a casual occupation, but I'm not sure how he'd manage if he had to work as, say, an attorney or similar profession.

I wear a suit to work more often than not. If it's hot, I wear a skirt and a short sleeved, loose fitting top, and open toed shoes. I'm perfectly appropriate even for court. My male collegues are still stuck in ties, long-sleeved, tucked in shirts, long pants, and socks with laced up shoes. To fit some purported idea of professionalism.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

and it was abundantly clear how you fade out. I see it on myself, too. At 43 I have to wear lipstick

I've noticed this myself at 31. In college, when I was a bit of a hippy, I routinely went without, but it doesn't work the same way now- I look very pale without at least some eye concealer and blush. (I enjoy wearing the rest, so it's no big to add mascara, eyeliner, and shadow.)

Incidentally, it turns out that purple is a fantastic color for most women because it doesn't wash anyone out.

I just picked up a pot of purple cream eyeliner, which I'm wearing today. It's dark enough that I don't think you can really tell, but it delights me to no end.

- Lyssa

edutcher said...

A little makeup - if applied properly - can really enhance a woman's looks, but, when there's too much, it just doesn't look good. Of course, there are some women who really don't need any.

Ann Althouse said...

So the old colloquialism "I'm putting on my warpaint" — when applying lipstick — is quite apt.

I'm reminded of an old Looney Tunes that described Indians' warpaint as combat cosmetics.

"They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch." That's pretty much the only purpose of a tie.

Use a clip-on tie for easy power on-and-offage.


Ties are a little different. They only have that effect in some milieus, I've found.

"It always feels shocking to me to see so many women without makeup- they all look so sad and truly pitiful. I guess a lot of it is just what we are used to- how often do you see women in public, particularly women who are not, say, young college girls at the peak of their attractiveness, who have not put any care into their face or hair?"

Yes, the issue of makeup and the older woman is important. If you wear too much, the whorish look is really bad, not kind of cool and edgy. If you don't wear any or wear very little, you can look very bland and faded and tired.


I'd disagree with the word, "whorish"; it's just that there's a look that absolutely screams, "old lady".

A little while back, I mentioned to Herself that the vivid red lipstick that was one of her trademarks was giving her that look and suggested a more moderate shade. I was a little surprised (and very happy) she took it to heart.

PS How a woman reacts when she gets the truth to, "Does this make me look fat?", is the same way. I've preceded my answer on a couple of occasions with, "The truth?". The Blonde always says, "Yes", and never gets mad.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Oh, come on, Mary. Are you really trying to argue that a woman in a skirt is less professional than a woman in pants? That's absurd.

And my toenails are a very pretty light gray today, thank you. Though it's never occurred to me to even consider whether or not people at work were looking at them.

Sounds to me like you're the one preoccupied with judging women by how they look.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"They were simply revealing something about how the mind instinctively works."

Academic leftists believe almost all aspects of human behavior is constructed and nothing is instinctive. Race, gender, perception of beauty- it's all so unfair and all forced on innocent babiesin their first few months.

They think the natural state of humans is a blank slate. Tey're Rousseauian idiots and their belief in starting from zero ultimately results in horrorshows like the Khmer Rouge reeducation camps.

Lucius said...

Age is indeed "icky."

I just refuse to discuss the aged. In fact, I don't even see them . . . .

CalReader said...

Professor Rhode may not wear makeup, but she does make time to color her hair. What does she see as the difference between these two grooming routines?

TMink said...

Jeff, wonderful and astute point. The left and many feminists despise the neurological research on gender differences in brain anatomy.

It does not fit the victim narrative.

Trey

Carol_Herman said...

I don't know the order in which they go, but I think I gave up pantyhose first. Equally distateful were the garter belts. And, those girdles!

Then, I stopped "streaking my hair." And, let it go grey.

Then, I gave up the face makeup. But kept to the eyeliner.

And, now I'M FREE! It's wonderful to be FREE!

Ann Althouse said...

"I'd disagree with the word, "whorish"; it's just that there's a look that absolutely screams, "old lady"."

I call it "old whore."

Not saying the woman is a whore. Just saying it's the "old whore" look.

The no-makeup look can come across as "homeless" in an old person.

No disrespect to the ladies of the street -- the homeless and the whores -- but their look isn't what an older woman generally wants.

A problem with aging is that your eyesight declines. This makes it hard to see what you're doing to get everything on straight and hard to judge the effect after you've done it.

That's another reason why too much is a bigger risk than too little.

Ann Althouse said...

"Academic leftists believe almost all aspects of human behavior is constructed and nothing is instinctive."

Yeah, I'll never forget the time, circa 1990, a feminist nearly bit my head off for entertaining the notion that homosexuality might be something a person is born with (or with a predisposition toward). There was more coherence then. These days, they bite your head off if you say the opposite.

Why not just be for truth? It's such a simple value.

Carol_Herman said...

Did anyone see, at one of the last debates, RON PAUL's right eyebrow ... creeping off?

I don't think "makeup" helps.

Scott M said...

Why not just be for truth? It's such a simple value.

And it's generally easier to keep straight. Lies require mobius strip outlines and notes.

Carol_Herman said...

My mom didn't wear makeup.

My father said it was wonderful to wake up in the morning next to the same woman he went to bed with the night before.

Makeup's highly overrated!

Mary said...

"Oh, come on, Mary. Are you really trying to argue that a woman in a skirt is less professional than a woman in pants? That's absurd. "


No. I said, if you honestly believe a woman in makeup is more "competent" than a women withouth, then clearly, a man in pants is more competent than a woman in a skirt.

Understand the way this line of thinking goes, doll face? (You might not like to think that way but ... studies have shown: It's true!)

;-)

Mary said...

"Though it's never occurred to me to even consider whether or not people at work were looking at them. "


If you're wearing open-toed shoes or sandals to work, trust me: they are noticing.

Why not save that stuff for your free dates, when you're needing to impress on your looks? Or do you honestly believe this "artificial looks = competency" crap?

Mary said...

"Sounds to me like you're the one preoccupied with judging women by how they look."

No, because I don't believe these studies. You seem to.

And, if you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound, the saying goes... You want to look pretty and wear your open-toed shoes on the job? Great.

Just don't be surprised when the more competent men, who keep more of their body parts under wraps at work time, are by the same standard as your makeup study, judged to be more professionally competent than you.

What's good for the gander, is also good for the goose. And clearly, there's a reason the men haven't taken to dressing down to impress in the professional jobs where true competency matters.

Mary said...

"A problem with aging is that your eyesight declines."

Some people need glasses at 15.

Others don't need them until 70 or 80.

Just sayin'.

Mary said...

"a feminist nearly bit my head off for entertaining the notion that homosexuality might be something a person is born with"

I'm sure that does make it easier on the parents of gays. To believe it's genetic, and not something environmental. Like overbearing mothers, or no daddies in the house, that is.

Me? I'll wait for the science to weigh in... these stories make for a controversial thread, but they're pretty generalized and "I like this, therefore everyone does" kind of reasoning...

(Right Trey, who prefers tall men himself, it seems? I wonder: will your snowflake children be more genetic determined, or will it matter what kind of a man is raising them?)

Miss Conduct said...

Feminists are always reflexively against anything that levels the playing field in the beauty pageant that is life. They wish so badly that there were no beauty pageant, thus they try to handicap other women's ability to compete through shaming peer pressure. Then, they reason, they themselves will be considered hotter, per Sailer's Law of Female Journalism.

Synova said...

For what it's worth, I don't think it's about attractiveness at all.

At the top of the article are a series of pictures of a very attractive young lady. Her bare faced picture is probably just as attractive as the one with make up.

Make-up has a different message (and I say this as someone who often doesn't wear any) and that is does this person take the time and effort to attend to detail. Competence, trustworthiness, etc., are related to that attention to detail as well as the habit of being prepared and taking time to make preparations.

If a picture is just of a face, that's all another person has to go by. Include clothes in a study as a control to how "made up" a woman is. The fact that I run out of the house with my hair undone, no make up, and lay-about-the-house clothes, legitimately says something about how careful I'm likely to be about things... IF that is all a person has to go by.

Recall that lady you know from church that is always excessively made up: her hair is done, her make-up tidy, her dress is fitted and pressed, her jewelry is tasteful. Somehow she goes just one step farther from anyone else, one less hair out of place, and you wonder what she's hiding and what uncontrol in her life is translated to controlling every hair on her head. You might see armor in lady and maybe a measure of unapproachability, but you don't doubt she's good at controlling the chaos around her.