18 Oct 2011, Posted by Andrew Karim in Backpages, 0 Comments
Women who wear makeup appear more likeable, competent and trustworthy in the eyes of their employers, according to a recent study out of Boston University.
The results may have been somewhat skewed (to say the least) as they were conducted with funds from Procter & Gamble, the corporation that sells CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabbana makeup. Despite this questionable act of arguable corporate tampering of the educational research sphere, this article may hold some truth.
In our neo-liberal capitalist economy, it is not uncommon for professional evaluations to be based on everything but actual competence. Be it gender, race or physical appearance, these factors always tend to weave their way into the lens through which we are assessed. This problem, however, is not one that must be anchored to common identity politics that often guise the real issue, for this is not a women’s matter as much as it is a human one.
“I think [the study] misses the point,” said Erin Stephens, program coordinator at the Duke Women’s Center. “We all know that that when you walk into the room, others assess you and that their conclusions about your competency and trustworthiness are strongly informed by societally defined notions of social hierarchy (think appearing white, male, straight and wealthy at the top).”
Stephens further noted the gender divide attributed to the study.
“What does it mean that makeup is only powerful (in America) when women wear it?” she said. “A man goes out in visible makeup and he is ridiculed and stared at. So what kind of power is this? Is it really power or just performance?”
The makeup in this study could very well be replaced with another commodity that traditionally boosts self-esteem, and this argument could just as easily be applied to the little black dress, the layered haircut or the Cartier watch. The point is not specific to makeup on women, but rather the fact that products have the ability to promote a placebo effect of sorts—one that creates the illusion of desirable traits and allows for professional competence has gradually become rooted commodities.
It seems as though the the defining criteria for hiring are rather cemented in the job market. Take note that next time when you check in for an interview, leave your check your
coat intellect at the door—you won’t be needing any of that.