Sunday, August 09, 2015

You simply cannot "makeup" such social standards

A few years ago, back when I used to practically nag my mother to make walking in order to get soaked by the sun-rays a part of her daily routine, I suggested that she could do it before the day heated up--the time after her morning coffee and before the kitchen work began.  She said she could not walk then.  Why?  Because she thought she would not look presentable enough.  My father jumped into the conversation, which is when my mother, very much unlike her calm and quiet nature, quickly cut him short with, "but you are a man. People don't comment about men like how they do about women."  Yep, my father could step out with his veshti and even a frayed undershirt, but there is that expectation that a woman even my mother's age has to keep up her appearances within that traditional settings.

I was reminded of that conversation when I read this at The Atlantic:
On July 20, Hillary Clinton conducted a Q&A session on Facebook, and Facebook staffer Libby Brittain posed an unusual Q to her:
“Every morning, as my boyfriend zips out the door and I spend 30+ minutes getting ready, I wonder about how the ‘hair-and-makeup tax’ affects other women—especially ones I admire in high-pressure, public-facing jobs,” Brittain wrote. “I know these questions can seem fluffy, but as a young professional woman, I’d genuinely love to hear about how you manage getting ready each morning (especially during your time traveling as Secretary of State and now on the campaign trail) while staying focused on the ‘real’ work ahead of you that day.”
“Amen, sister,” Clinton responded, because she’s relatable. “You’re preaching to the choir. It’s a daily challenge. I do the best I can—and as you may have noticed, some days are better than others!”
The issue is for real, in the old country and here in the US alike.  For young and older women.  Especially here in the US, where starting from their junior-high school years, girls begin to spend time grooming themselves, while boys barely spend a couple of minutes getting themselves ready.  I would think that shaving the hair on their legs and armpits alone takes up quite a bit of time.  In my classes, male students rarely ever look like they are at work, while most female students come to class well groomed.  (And, btw, most female students outperform the males, which then makes me wonder what the males are doing with their time!)
Makeup works by enhancing facial contrast—the color difference between your lips and nose, for example. Facial contrast is closely associated with femininity, and femininity with female beauty, in Western cultures. In a study I reported on last year, both male and female participants thought “regular” women looked best when they applied a moderate amount of makeup. Another study found that subtle makeup made women seem more competent, likable, and attractive.
Years of research has shown that attractive people earn more. Thus, the makeup tax: Good-looking men and good-looking women both get ahead, but men aren't expected to wear makeup in order to look good.
As much as I am thankful that I am a man, even if not a good looking one, I recognize that there is something seriously wrong here.  

Of course, this is not the first time that I have blogged about this issue.  Blogging often seems to be a Yogi Berra-like "it's déjà vu all over again."  I read a political story and is all too familiar.  Or a cultural issue that makes me think, "hey, didn't I already write about this?"  And then when politics intersects with culture, it is like instant recall of something I had blogged about before.  Ok, enough about me, eh! ;)

Consider this excerpt from a post dated October 21, 2012:
Hillary Clinton was routinely made fun of for her pantsuits, but it is totally ok for Barack Obama to wear nothing but grey and blue suits.
I recall Hillary Clinton remarking--during the primaries--that Obama could allocate time for a workout because he didn't have to set aside time to get ready: no hair-dressing, no makeup, means that he has that much more time at his disposal compared to Clinton.
When Clinton went without her face all made-up, the photos and the jokes went viral, which says a lot about the atrociously different treatment we give men and women:
Of course, if this was a male politician, few — if any — would focus on whether he had primped before his public appearance this deep into an overseas trip. It would only become a headline if Joe Biden suddenly started wearing eyeliner and lipstick.
But we aren’t accustomed to seeing female politicians and politicos without camera-ready makeup and, God forbid, showing wrinkles. 
That was in October 2012.  And now it is August 2015.  The more things change, the more they look the same!

The real world offers even worse:
He may have agreed to take her for better and for worse, but for one Algerian groom, seeing his new wife without make-up was a step too far.
The husband was so shocked after seeing his bride's face the morning after their wedding that he failed to even recognise her.
He even accused her of being a thief that had broken into his house.
After realising it was in fact the woman he had married only yesterday, he decided to take her to court - accusing her inflicting 'psychological suffering' by 'cheating' him with her make-up.
The groom is now seeking $20,000 (£13,000) damages.
I am all the more convinced now that The Onion was on to something with this product! ;)

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