“Age is a primary social dimension. We behave differently toward people as a function of how old we perceive them to be. Age perception relies on cues that are correlated with age, such as wrinkles. Here we report that aspects of facial contrast–the contrast between facial features and the surrounding skin–decreased with age in a large sample of adult Caucasian females. These same aspects of facial contrast were also significantly correlated with the perceived age of the faces. Individual faces were perceived as younger when these aspects of facial contrast were artificially increased, but older when these aspects of facial contrast were artificially decreased. These findings show that facial contrast plays a role in age perception, and that faces with greater facial contrast look younger. Because facial contrast is increased by typical cosmetics use, we infer that cosmetics function in part by making the face appear younger.”
This is the abstract of a research article titled “Aspects of Facial Contrast Decrease with Age and Are Cues for Age Perception,” and it should give a professional woman some good reasons to seriously consider wearing makeup at work and in profile pics. The way the study was conducted, people from the community sat before a computer and saw repeated photos duplicated side by side. The viewer chose the healthiest photo, or the most attractive, or the youngest, etc. But the only difference in photos was some slight changes in one.
Those changes were very subtle so the viewer was not necessarily aware of why one looked healthier, for instance. But the subtle changes did change perception.
Professional Image is All About Perception
Like it or not, people judge us by what we look like. Then they’ll judge us by how we act and sound. They have to make that judgement call because all they can see is the way we look and act and sound. So it makes sense that your professional image is based on outward appearances. OK, so I may be biased because I admit, I’m a makeup hound. I love all things hair, makeup, and accessories. I was loving life in the 80’s with the big hair, bright makeup, bracelets, and bows (even though I do look back at pictures and cringe sometimes). However, not all women want to fuss with makeup in the morning– and I get that.
Women working in the corporate world have many more options on dress and appearance than men do. You’d think that makes it easier, but it actually is more challenging because it’s so easy to choose the wrong option. It’s a good idea to study the workplace you are operating in carefully, dress for the position you hope to be promoted to, and look healthy & reasonably attractive in both real life and profile pics. Sad, but true. How you look professionally counts.
This study shows that you can increase a positive perception of your image with a little bit of makeup, so there’s proof that makeup is a good success strategy for professional women. And I’m not just saying that because I still have my Color Me Beautiful palette from 1985. Ahem.