When I was a teenager my mother decided I needed to learn how to wear makeup. I was resistant to the idea but my mother persisted and arranged for a Mary Kay rep who went to our church to give me a makeover. “You’ll want to wear makeup soon enough and when you do I want you to know how to put it on so you don’t wear too much.” The makeover was my mother’s way of getting ahead of any ambition I may have developed to wear royal blue eye shadow. The makeover resulted in age-appropriate muted shades of peach and lavender.
Except for one year in San Francisco where I wore no makeup and anything North Face, makeup has become part of my going-out-of-the-house (except to the gym) routine. “Why wouldn’t you always want to look your best?” my mother would say. She has a valid point. A recent study found that women who wear makeup (tastefully, as mother would approve) are perceived as more likeable and competent than women who wear none.
One hundred forty-nine individuals, men and woman, were shown pictures of 25 woman ages 20 to 50 from multiple ethnicities. The pictures featured each woman without makeup, with a natural look (some makeup), a professional look (more makeup), and a glamorous look. Regardless of the length individuals could examine the pictures (from 250 milliseconds to an unlimited time) the woman with makeup, even those with the glamorous look, were perceived as more competent.
This finding could lend itself to a conversation about the culture and the expectations put upon woman from which men are exempt. It could also lend itself to a better understanding and acceptance of the current culture. There isn’t a right or wrong in many of the choices we may make, but there is a consequence.