What you need to know before applying your makeup

What you need to know before applying your makeup

When you see a woman wearing makeup, are you threatened by her, or do you admire her? According to a new study, your gut reaction might be determined by your gender.

A recent study from the University of Stirling in Scotland revealed that men and women have very different reactions to women wearing makeup, with men more likely to view the made up woman as “prestigious,” and women more likely to consider the woman “dominant.”

As part of the study, the author, Dr. Viktoria Mileva, asked both men and women why they associated made up women with the words “prestigious” or “dominant.” She discovered the most common reasons women listed were jealousy and feeling threatened.

“A decision that may seem as personal as deciding whether or not to wear makeup can, at times, have far-reaching consequences,” says Dr. Elizabeth Rutha, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “These studies indicate that a woman wearing makeup may be perceived differently by either gender. Men may have a tendency to view the woman more positively— the term specifically used in the article is ‘prestigious’—while women may view the same woman and tend to feel competitive.”

Another study suggested that women who wear makeup are perceived as more competent, confident and attractive than those who do not. However, the study also revealed a gender difference in that other women perceived women wearing makeup as promiscuous and untrustworthy.

“At a job interview, knowing whether the hiring committee will consist of men or women might influence a female candidate’s decision about wearing makeup,” Dr. Mileva said in a news release. “Whether the interviewers will view her as attractive, dominant and/or prestigious can affect her and the interviewers’ actions and perhaps the outcome of the interview itself. Thus, understanding the potential implications of cosmetics use are important not only for the wearer, but also for the perceiver.”

Dr. Rutha agrees.

“When making choices about one’s personal appearance, particularly in situations in which one is likely to be judged by strangers, it’s important to think about the attributions that others make based on superficial variables such as makeup,” she says.

Fortunately, makeup has become more a symbol of choice rather than social acceptance for many women. Makeup, when used to boost self-esteem, is helpful and empowering for women, as it is a choice that they get to make for themselves, according to another study.

“Ultimately, it is a personal choice whether or not to wear makeup,” Dr. Rutha says, “but understanding its impact on others is a powerful tool to have.”

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  1. Seriously, we’re discussing makeup in 2016? Women are being judged harshly for wearing makeup; what is going on in Scotland? I would have thought these results would have come from a developing, patriarchal country. Hey Scotland, the 1920s are over.

  2. Agree with the other commenters. As a woman I’ve never looked at another woman with makeup on and thought “dominant”. I assume ALL women wear makeup in this country.

  3. If applied correctly, makeup gives whatever clothing or ensemble a more complete look
    a nice dress. shoes and a classy hairstyle with nice color lipstick and eye makeup makes for that complete look.

  4. When I choose to wear makeup (which is very rare) I don’t do it for anyone but myself! I don’t care how men or other women are viewing my makeup or lack thereof. I am certainly not going to wear makeup to a job interview in the hopes of impressing the committee with my mascara. Shame on Advocate for encouraging women to make choices about their personal appearance based on how others might perceive them.

  5. I wear makeup every day. It’s as “routine” to me as shaving is to men.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.