‘Sexist studies on make-up and heels make me cringe’


Claire Cohen -February 3, 2015

Hold the front page: a new study has found that women are ‘more attractive’ without make-up.

Yes, that is the sound of a million mascara wands clattering to the floor in shock.

Researchers at Bangor University have spent actual time and money producing a paper that says so.

Academics photographed 44 female undergraduates, with and without make-up, and showed the images to 62 students – both male and female – who were asked to rate their attractiveness out of seven.

(A nice message to give young people about how they should judge their female peers, don’t you think?)

And the results of all this hard work?

This bombshell from University of York psychologist Robert Kramer, who took part in the research:

“If you put make-up on an unattractive woman it won’t make her more attractive than a pretty woman without make-up.

“Your natural features and identity determine attractiveness and there is not much you can do about it”.

Phew. Thanks for clearing that up.

Hardly a week goes by when women aren’t told what will make them look better/worse. And far from the ‘advice’ coming from crackpot sources, it’s being fed to us from the world’s leading academic institutions.

How on earth is it possible, in this day and age, that universities can still be allocating resources to such outdated, sexist – and, frankly, statement of the bleeding obvious – studies?

Another hardy perennial is the burning question over whether high heels are sexier than flat shoes.

Indeed, one such study was published just a few weeks ago.

Nicholas Guéguen, of the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France, dedicated time to exploring the radical notion that the height of a woman’s heel influences male behaviour.

He sent a 19-year-old woman, in different heel heights – she alternated between flats and stilettoes – on to the streets of Brittany, where she asked 90 men to complete a survey.

The shock findings: men were more likely to respond when she had heels on. Eighty-two per cent agreed to do the survey when she wore stilettoes, compared with 42 per cent when she was in flats.

Guéguen also had the woman ‘accidentally’ drop a glove on the ground (what is this, a Jane Austen novel?)

He recorded that 93 per cent of men chased after her when she wore heels to return the glove, compared to 62 per cent when she wore flats.

“As a man I can see that I prefer to see my wife when she wears high heels and many men in France have the same evaluation,” he said by way of explanation.

I asked Guéguen to unpack his motivation for the study. Didn’t he think that, just maybe, it was a teensy-weensy bit outdated?

“High heels – old fashioned?” he replied, astounded.

“Today near all the women in France wear shoes with high heels.

“This study was first suggested by an undergraduate female student who reported that more men smiled when she wore high heels. Since this paper we have conducted further studies. In one of them the photography of the same woman’s body profile wearing high heels or not was evaluated by men. Results showed that high heels were associated with greater sexiness, overall physical attractiveness, breast attractiveness, beauty, attractiveness to other men, and willingness for a date”.

Ah well, that’s ok then. It was suggested by a woman. An undergraduate, aged between 18 and 21, no less. In that case, it’s perfectly fine to ask men to rate a woman’s sexiness from photographs.

It couldn’t possibly be that by conducting such banal research, academic institutions are normalising it? That young female (and male) students think these are just the sort of topics they should be exploring, in order to impress their tutors?

And there was me just about to suggest the whole system was eating itself, after coming across this University of Auckland study that found women are ok with sexism as long as it benefits them.

Well, I don’t know about you, but all this new knowledge has improved my life immeasurably. From tomorrow a new regime: no make-up, stiletto heels, smile sweetly at benevolent sexism.

I can’t wait to discover what lesson these universities will teach me next.

The Telegraph


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