It’s a cringe-worthy comment I hear every time I show up to work without makeup on; usually followed by an onslaught of concerned interrogations like, “Are you sick?” and “Is everything okay?”. They’re statements every makeup-wearing woman I know is tired of hearing when she steps into work one day without a full face on HD foundation on.
Is it any wonder I have serious phobias about leaving my house without contouring myself into oblivion?
Unfortunately, a new study doesn’t have good news for women – whether you sit on the makeup-wearing side of the fence or not. According to a research paper published in the June 2016 issue of the Journal of Social Stratification and Mobility, in which more than14,000 people were surveyed on their income and grooming habits, women who spent more time and money on their hair and makeup were found to earn significantly more than their bare-faced female colleagues.
The researchers essentially found that attractive people tend to make about 20 per cent more than their average looking coworkers (*sigh* tell us something we don’t already know…), but that when women invested in more extensive grooming regimes, that gap faded (read: anyone can look like Kim Kardashian with the right sandbagging routine).
“The big takeaway here is that people can capture most of the attractiveness premium [with makeup],” one of the study’s leading researchers, sociologist Andrew Penner says.
“It’s not just what you’re born with.”
Hmm. Deep thoughts.
What’s most surprising about these results isn’t the revelatory fact that makeup can improve our appearances, it’s that in 2016, we’re still being judged by them.
Besides the fact the study results represent a glaring double standard (read: men can throw on a sharp outfit and be good to go, women who do the same and forgo makeup are viewed as less serious than their colleagues), it’s also depressingly defeating. It’s one thing to say wearing more makeup will help fatten up your paycheque, but much like every other social expectation that comes with being a woman, the idea is fraught with contradictions.
Women who wear a lot of makeup are regularly condemned in popular media for “being fake”, “hiding something” or – my favorite – “tricking men” (guys, grow up). On the flipside, women who don’t wear makeup are told they’re not putting in enough effort and interrogated about their “tired” appearances. (The only pro to this is if you’re a woman and ever want to knock off early, all you need are a few makeup wipes for a free hall pass home from the boss.)
If this study proves anything, it’s that women can’t win.
Comment: Do you think there’s still double standards when it comes to attractiveness in the workplace?