…in which I lose my shit on sexist “studies”
13 October 2011
The short version says, “New study shows that makeup makes women appear more competent.” The long version is, this study funded by Proctor & Gamble (i.e., Cover Girl) asked about 300 people to look at some photos of women wearing differently spackled-on layers of makeup — and sometimes, these people only glanced at those photos for 250 milliseconds — and those people tended to think made-up women looked more attractive, competent, and likeable. [Vomiting noise.]
Where do I even begin? The idea that women need to “appear more competent”? Let’s speculate for a moment on why these researchers didn’t spackle up some men with makeup and ask which ones appeared more competent. OH YEAH: because men’s resumés confirm that they’re competent; we need yet another confirmation that women need to fake it.
Then there’s the notion that a bunch of people looking at photos might make the same determinations about a woman’s competence rather than judge them by their actual work. I’m sorry, but tell me exactly how this study is different than Mark Zuckerberg’s “Hot or Not?” program (aka the proto Facebook)? Or the “Who looks better in this dress?” staple spread in those magazines in the supermarket checkout line? Why not show people a bunch of photos of a woman photoshopped to be different body sizes and ask your respondents, “Which would you tap?”
Then there’s the notion that we need a Proctor & Gamble-sponsored study about the importance of makeup. “Surprisingly few studies have investigated [makeup’s] effects on perceivers,” this one tells us. “The few that have demonstrate that cosmetics can increase attractiveness in Caucasian women in their 20s and 30s.” Gawd.
I only lament the lack of a connection to bullshit sexist evolutionary psychology, but I do understand that it’s hard to imagine why cavewomen would have needed to “appear competent.” I imagine the researchers tried, however, considering their bizarre and nonsensical references to the history of makeup.
Can the Occupy Wall Street people please start sending Proctor & Gamble the message that we do not need their funded studies telling us that we should be insecure unless we’re wearing some fucking Cover Girl?