Your Looks Matter
The apothegm “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has its merits. However, we seldom practice it.
Looks matter in recruiting, politics, when choosing romantic partners, and many other aspects of our daily lives.
It is not necessarily a bad thing to look good. In fact, it is a necessity. From an early age, we are taught by our parents, guardians, and any heart-warming adult; about the importance of good appearance.
That said, at what point does looking good hurt rather than help your chances?
Dominance versus Prestige
Knowing this point is important for women, as makeup is often a parameter by which women are judged.
No doubt, individual perceptions of makeup would fit in a wide spectrum. However, it is possible to split these perceptions along gender lines.
In a recent study, women judged other women who wore makeup to be more dominant, while men judged women with makeup as more prestigious.
Before we ask the why, let’s understand what both perceptions are all about.
One thing that dominance and prestige have in common is that a person can use them to achieve higher status in society.
The difference is in the methodology.
Dominant people rely on force and intimidation to get their foot in the door and show they have what it takes to handle the higher status.
Prestigious people rely on the skills and merits they possess to sell themselves as apt leaders to others.
Routes to Success
Today, in different walks of life, women use either routes—dominance and prestige—to become successful.
UFC champion Ronda Rousey takes the dominance route as she blasts at her opponents and, in some cases, other celebrities with her smack talk.
Hilary Clinton, presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, takes the prestige route, signified by a calm and knowledgeable approach. This is in stark contrast to the dominant route of political foe Donald Trump, presidential nominee of the Republican Party.
Ronday and Hilary are highly influential. However, they got to their respective pedestal of influence different strategies.
Make-up and the Routes to Success
Both sexes—male and female—can use either routes to success. There is no hard and fast rule about who can or cannot use either route.
Nonetheless, for many ordinary women, the use of makeup can push you closer to status. After all, appearance matters.
The stats agree. People often perceive women who wear cosmetics as having a higher professional status.
However, the question is: What route does makeup take to propel you to a higher status? Dominance or Prestige?
The Shocking Find
The Research Methodology
To answer this question, researchers digitally applied the same amount of subtle makeup to real images of women’s faces.
The amount of makeup used was based on the average amount of cosmetics worn by a sample of women.
The researcher then showed these faces, both with and without the digital makeup to men and women. The researchers asked the men and women to rate the faces for “attractiveness, dominance, and prestige.”
The Research Results
- Both men and women rated the faces with small amount of makeup as more attractive than faces without the makeup
- Men rated the faces with makeup as prestigious
- Shockingly, women rated the faces with makeup as dominant
The researchers could explain the reason behind the first two results. The third result, however, was completely unexpected.
It was not immediately apparent to the researchers why women with makeup looked more dominant to other women.
The unverified hypothesis at this point was that women with makeup are more threatening to other women because:
- They might attract another woman’s partner, or
- Make other women feel less attractive
Sure enough, existing literature seemed to give credence to both assertions. One research showed that women tend to be more jealous of physically attractive women. Another showed that the attractiveness of potential mates was of more value to men than to women.
What Vibe Are You Giving
The researchers sought for a more concrete explanation, by carrying out another sub-study.
The researchers pooled a new set of female participants to rate the women’s faces with and without makeup. The participants were asked to answer the following questions:
- “How jealous would you feel if this woman were to interact with your partner?”
- “Which [between both faces of one woman] do you think men would find more attractive?”
- “Which [between both faces of one woman] do you think would be more promiscuous?”
The result as predicted by the hypothesis was that the participants (all of which were female) viewed women with makeup as more likely to make them jealous, more attractive to men, and more promiscuous.
Therefore, if makeup on one woman could make another woman jealous, then it could explain why women find other women with makeup to be more dominant.
This inference is important because of the possible implications it could have.
Make-up could have positive or negative implications depending on the person the woman with the makeup interacts with.
Studies portend that faces that are more likely to be “elected” into high-ranking positions, are faces judged higher in competence.
However, on the flip side, while the men on a job interview panel may consider a woman in a makeup in a positive light, some women may be feeling something entirely opposite—a negative vibe of sorts.
Do take note of these possible implications the next time you apply your beauty products..