The study’s 25 female subjects, aged 20 to 50 and white, African-American and Hispanic, were photographed barefaced and in three looks that researchers called natural, professional and glamorous. They were not allowed to look in a mirror, lest their feelings about the way they looked affect observers’ impressions....So the old colloquialism "I'm putting on my warpaint" — when applying lipstick — is quite apt.
“I’m a little surprised that the relationship held for even the glamour look,” said Richard Russell, an assistant professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa....
“There are times when you want to give a powerful ‘I’m in charge here’ kind of impression, and women shouldn’t be afraid to do that,” by, say, using a deeper lip color that could look shiny, increasing luminosity, said Sarah Vickery, another author of the study and a Procter & Gamble scientist. “Other times you want to give off a more balanced, more collaborative appeal.”
They (the NYT) got a female lawprof to opine:
“I don’t wear makeup, nor do I wish to spend 20 minutes applying it,” said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University who wrote “The Beauty Bias” (Oxford University Press, 2010), which details how appearance unjustly affects some workers. “The quality of my teaching shouldn’t depend on the color of my lipstick or whether I’ve got mascara on.”Don't men have more cause to complain? They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch.
She is no “beauty basher,” she said. “I’m against our preoccupation, and how judgments about attractiveness spill over into judgments about competence and job performance. We like individuals in the job market to be judged on the basis of competence, not cosmetics.”Can you be against the structure of human psychology? The participants in the study weren't "preoccupied" by anything. They were simply revealing something about how the mind instinctively works.
Presumably, Rhode would say that if there's a natural and subconscious response, it's our responsibility to understand it, drag it into our consciousness — consciousness raising — and fight it off. That's what we'd say if a study, for example, proved that the darkness or lightness of skin color influenced our judgment of a person's likability, competence, and trustworthiness.
But race is an immutable characteristic, and makeup (like clothing or hairstyles) can be varied at will. It's empowering that a woman can make decisions about the level of makeup, and it allows women with different degrees of natural beauty to use their minds — through judgment — and skills — with a steady hand — to compete in the social and the commercial sphere. It's similar to the way a person with less inborn intelligence can read a lot and study hard and thereby get ahead.
What's bad about that?