The Ugly Truth About Being Beautiful: Let's Fight The #BeautyBias
Are Beauty Standards Affecting Your Career?
During her life, the average woman will spend $15,000 on makeup. She'll spend two weeks a year (that's about 55 minutes a day) working on her appearance. The website attn: reports that "an attractive person will earn $230,000 more than an unattractive person. An individual with average looks will earn $140,000 more than an unattractive person."
(I'll give you one guess as to who is gauging women's attractiveness.)
Enter-- the Makeup Tax. Attractive people are most likely to succeed and be highly paid. While men just have to put on a nice suit, women are expected to devote their time and money ($15,000 worth, apparently-- and to be honest, this seems low) on hair, makeup, clothing, diets, exercise, cosmetic procedures, etc. in order to get ahead and appear capable.
In an article for The New York Times, Stanford Law Professor Deborah Rhode says of the correlation between makeup and professional success: "the quality of my teaching shouldn't depend on the color of my lipstick or whether I've got mascara on."
It's pretty simple: beauty standards define what kinds of jobs and relationships women have access to. How can we battle the #BeautyBias?
The Dove Campaign seeks to do just that by asking regular women: how are you judged every day based on your looks, especially in the workplace? Let's start the discussion.
There is an appearance bias.
According to the Dove website:
• Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful (up from 2% in 2004)
• Only 11% of girls globally are comfortable describing themselves as ‘beautiful'
• 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful
• 80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful, but do not see their own beauty
• More than half of women globally (54%) agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic
How do we let our women know that they are beautiful, or, more importantly, it's not societal standards that define their beauty?
There is a height bias.
When it comes to height, it's associated with power and capability, but not with "femininity"--though what the hell does that word mean anyway. Why might height help you in the work place? Perhaps because, as one woman states in the video, "anything close to a male stereotype can help a woman get a career."
There is a weight bias.
If you're a woman and are approximately 13lbs overweight, you're most likely to be paid $9,000 less than your coworkers.
There is a hair bias.
According to Business Insider, "Blonde women earn $870 more on average than brunettes and redheads."
I asked these Body Positive Instagrammers about the #BeautyBias and about how they're helping to spread the word on loving yourself online.
Megan, or @BodyPosiPanda is a "Body Positive Feminist Warrior" hailing from the UK. With 341K Instagram followers, she helps spread the message that there's no wrong way to have a body. She agreed that, "women and girls learn from a young age that no matter what they become in life, they have to be one thing: beautiful. All other goals or accomplishments come secondary to how well we fit into today's cultural standards of beauty." While physical standards for beauty in the career world used to exist in just say, modeling, she notes that now it seems to have seeped in to every aspect of the professional world for women.
Whether it be greying hair or imperfect makeup, we're judged by our appearance before we even walk through the door.
So how does she fight it? With a kick ass Instagram that promotes body positivity and eating disorder recovery. She uses her social media as a place to "give representation to the body types that we don't see in the mainstream media! I take pictures embracing the parts of myself I've been taught to see as flaws all my life - my belly rolls, my cellulite, and my bare face." Hell yes.
She has some great advice for women on tackling the beauty bias: "Reclaim our bodies and refuse to apologise for our existence any longer. Take up space. Be unapologetic. Set your own beauty rules and be your own body goals. Refuse to buy into anymore messages that tell you that your body isn't good enough. Get angry that our society values our bodies more than who we are as people. Get angry than the biggest industries in the world make billions from teaching us to hate ourselves. Get angry that the average age girls start dieting now is 8. Get angry and use that anger to rise up and refuse to play by the rules any longer. We all deserve so much better. "
We couldn't agree more.
@AlexisGirlNovak is a yoga instructor and body positivity advocate from Los Angeles. I asked her how attractiveness affects a woman in her personal and professional life, and she so astutely noted, "Society has driven us to think that our body is not on our side, regardless of the height, shape, and overall aesthetic of our features. We read in magazines "how (insert celebrity) got her body back" as if her body wasn't hers because she gained weight. We are told that our body or skin is something we have to "earn"-- we already earned it, we are here."
And it all starts young she explains-- from when we're told we have to wear a dress on picture day in 3rd grade to now, spending 3 hours figuring out what to wear for that Holiday work party, worried you look fat.
Ladies, your body is yours already-- it's beautiful. Let's strive for health, not beauty, and let's do it for ourselves and for what makes us feel good. That's Alexis' mission. She believes that to break the beautybias, sometimes we need to step outside ourselves. If unconditionally loving yourself proves tricky, treat your body like it belongs to someone you love. And when it comes to diet and exercise: "Move because you love your body, not because you hate it."