There are a lot of reasons that women wear makeup. As the popularity of makeup tutorials on YouTube shows, some view it as a veritable art form, a way of experimenting with colors and shades on the blank canvas of their faces. Others put on makeup in order to highlight their more attractive features, in order to look better in photos or feel more pleased with themselves when looking in a mirror. And for others, like myself, putting on makeup is just part of a daily routine, the significance of which has been almost lost entirely.
Either way, there’s certainly no reason to assume that a woman puts on makeup solely for the purposes of enhancing her chances for casual sex, but, apparently, that happens to be precisely the assumption we make.
In a new study published in Personality and Individual Differences, researchers showed 162 men and women photographs of 69 young adult women with various levels of makeup, and found that those who wore more makeup were perceived as more attractive and more sociosexual—the psychological term used to describe people who enjoy having sex with multiple partners.
When the 69 women themselves were then interviewed about their sexual habits, the researchers found—no surprise here—that there was roughly zero connection between their makeup habits and their sex lives.
“Thus our study shows that people use makeup as a cue for perceiving sociosexuality, but that it is an invalid cue,” the paper reads.
Now, I’m stating the obvious here, but apparently it bears repeating that women do not get dressed in the morning solely for the benefit of securing a man, and that nothing about a woman’s appearance entitles you to make assumptions about her desire for sex.
If a woman wears a sexy dress for a night out with the girls, that does not necessarily mean she’s trying to get laid. If she gets a nice haircut, it does not necessarily mean she’s trying to get laid. If she wears a lot of makeup, it does not necessarily mean she’s trying to get laid.
Personally, I would put the phrase, “You look so much better without makeup on,” on my list of The 17 Worst Things a Man Can Say to a Woman. It sounds like a compliment, but it’s really a way of saying, “I like it when you do something that makes me feel like you’re not trying to get sex from me.”
Inevitably, it makes the woman feel like whenever she does put makeup on, a man will assume it’s for his benefit, as opposed to something that she’s doing for herself. It also feeds into a dangerous mythology that makes women feel like when they do put on makeup, they are somehow being anti-feminist. That, of course, is utterly ridiculous.
If you need another reminder that not every decision in a woman’s life revolves around getting the sexual attention of a man, read up on why Why Every Dress Should Come Equipped with Pockets.
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