The Power of the Rouge Pot was the recent subject of a spirited New York Times debate. A decade ago the question of whether makeup and by extension, beauty enhances or degrades a womans self-esteem would have generated passionate pleas on both sides of the argument. Perhaps its an indication that women are more secure in their own skins today, but the debate focused less on perceived unfairness than on empowerment.
Feel good about yourself
Among debaters, who ranged from makeup artists to feminist authors, there seemed to be a consensus that women who choose to enhance their beauty are no longer breaking with the sisterhood but are acting to empower themselves. (Of course, with the caveat that enhancement is a personal choice.) In other words, if it makes you feel good about yourself; do it and more power to you!
The beauty advantage
The idea that beautiful people achieve greater success in life isnt just grounded in schoolyard jealousies. A 2011 Procter & Gamble study that asked people to evaluate the competency of women wearing various amounts of makeup was cited by several debaters. The study found that women who wore more makeup were judged to be more competent, as long as makeup was tastefully applied. In fact, enhancing attractiveness also increased perceived likability and trustworthiness. The studys lead author, Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard University and one of the NYT debaters, believes the pursuit of beauty is biological as well as cultural.
Despite beautys advantages, debaters agreed that inner fire not outward appearance is what counts. But makeup artist and author Scott Barnes pointed out that improving your appearance can stoke your inner fire. If you look your best, you feel your best. You will find that doors open for you, and that people want to be around you.
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