Why do women wear make up?

A Skincare company, St Ives, has recently conducted a survey to find out peoples views on make up. Of the male respondents, 20% said they would like their wives and girlfriends to wear less make up, with a further 10% who would prefer them to wear no make up at all. (what it has got to do with men, I’m not really sure….)

What I found interesting was that 25% of women polled admitted using “heavy make up” to create a shield to mask their lack of confidence. It got me wondering what else people use to cover up issues over confidence. I have a beard which I grew when I was at university. The reason for growing it at the time was that shaving made my skin red, blotchy and very irritable, but I also noticed an increase in confidence as well. You wouldn’t think having a beard or wearing make up would make a difference, but it clearly does to some people.

I have worked with a senior manager at a Bluechip company who has to present each year to the 500 people who work in their department. They are very good on their feet, but each year they buy a new suit, specifically for the presentation, as the new clothes make them feel more confident and energised. I don’t think this is an isolated example either, as the clothese we wear put us in different moods.

A company I used to work for went through a phase where people didn’t need to wear a suit to work, “smart casual” became the order of the day. Within 6 months, all the men had shed the polo shirt and chinos and were back in their suit and tie, as pyschologically they felt this was more approriate attire for business.

The dress code and the way we look also has an effect on the people we deal with. I worked with a company where the Directors used to go out and see customers in company branded polo shirts and work trousers on the basis that it suited the nature of the industry they were engaged in. They experimented with wearing a suit and tie to go and see clients and found they received a completely different response, with the company directors they were meeting treating them with far more respect and professionalism. I don’t think it was a coincidence that their sales went up at around the same time either!

Research appears to back up the anecdotal evidence that what we look like (be it make up, clothes etc ) has an impact on how we are perceived in a business environemt. For example in a survey  64 per cent of directors said that women who wore make-up look more professional and 18 per cent of directors said that women who do not wear make-up “look like they can’t be bothered to make an effort”.  In a survey of female business leaders, 22% of of CEO’s, senior managers and business owners said they had withheld a promotion or raise because of the way the individual had dressed at work.

Perhaps the way we look is not just about giving ourselves confidence but also about inspiring confidence in others.

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