Wow. I published Do Looks Matter? last Thursday, and I guess I was just in tune with the zeitgeist of American… or at least ABC news and affiliates. The next day Good Morning America did a segment with Phoebe Baker Hyde, the author of The Beauty Experiment.
Ms. Hyde, seen here in a photo taken by Tamara Beckwith for the New York Post, went a year without using any beauty products. No hair goop. No face spackle. Nada. She said she undertook the experiment after noting that even when employing all the trappings of conventional beauty she still felt lacking, and feared she had come to confuse confidence with looking good. After a year product-free she now claims she feels more beautiful than ever and is on an “ongoing quest to outgrow the fantasy of feminine perfection and remake the mantle of womanhood in the only size that fits–her own.” I think she just had a genius idea for a book. Good for her.
Katie Couric did a more in depth interview with Ms. Hyde on her show, Katie. Ms. Couric and everyone in the audience went make-up free. Ms. Hyde appeared bare faced as well, in solidarity to the natural beauty theme of the day, but she readily admitted that she would be wearing make-up at her future public speaking appearances. Hmmm, right? The experience was clearly an uncomfortable one for Ms. Couric, and I doubt it will be repeated. And it is interesting to note that when Charlotte Heldman, a professor at Occidental College who specializes in gender studies, later joined the discussion on stage, she did so in full make-up (albeit with a light touch,) and with beautifully blown out, highly processed platinum locks. All three women know that looks matter, and effort is rewarded. Ms. Heldman stated, “Studies indicate that we do tend to see attractive people, conventionally attractive people, we see them as happier, we see them as warmer, in fact, a few studies have shown that they even get lower prison sentences or don’t get convicted at all.”
Ms. Couric decided to put the theory to the test. She had Maureen Torraco go out on the streets of NYC “dolled-up,” that is, well-dressed, wearing make-up and looking like she had just walked out of Dry Bar. Maureen then stopped strangers on the street to ask if she could borrow their cell phone. Almost everyone responded positively to her request, without hesitation. Maureen then went out “dressed down,” in sweats and an over-sized parka. She wore no make-up and had her hair tucked up in a cap. Over and over again people refused her request. Those who did help did so reluctantly.
Fair? Remember, “fair” is a place pigs go to win ribbons.
And remember also that it was the same attractive girl in both scenarios. She was just working what she had in the first case, and her effort was rewarded time and again.
What does this have to do with fitness? Our bodies are judged as well. It’s all part of the package. I’m not claiming that it’s right, or a good thing, I’m just saying it is. I speak from personal experience. You are perceived as happier, more intelligent, and more industrious if you are fit. We should be conscious of how we present ourselves, and the effects that the look we’re rocking might have on our personal and professional lives.
This is me in my “dual clothes” after a workout. I usually run all my errands immediately after. My hair is uncombed, my face is bare, and I’m a hot mess, (literally and figuratively.) I don’t care. I’m just getting it done and I don’t mind being judged at Target. (I admit I’m still hoping Stacey and Clinton will pop out from around a corner one day to scold me for this look and to present me with a $5,000 check and a trip to NY. My dream!) But I try and pull it together when I think it matters, (like at Jiffy Lube.)
What do you guys think about The Beauty Experiment and the video above?