How do women really feel about their own beauty quotient? A fascinating study commissioned by New Woman magazine uncovered some compelling answers.
Guess what? Despite being subjected to insistent media images of impossible perfection, "real" women have surprisingly high levels of sell-confidence about their own attractiveness. According to a national survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners for New Woman magazine, women on the average rated their appearance on a typical day a "7" on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being "extremely attractive"). They also feel they have a good deal of control over how they look. Part of that control is relying on beauty products and services that not only make them look good, but also pamper them in the process.
The results of "Beauty Revealed" were presented at an ABA Breakfast during the Beauty and Barber Supply Institutes annual convention held August 10-13. "Women look in the mirror, and they like what they see," says Dr. Carin Rubenslein, a contributing editor at Afett; Woman magazine and presenter of the survey results. "Eighty percent of them are confident about their appearance, and a positive attitude is what makes them so confident," During a short video, women were interviewed about what makes a woman attractive, how they would describe their own looks, and whether they would prefer to be wealthy, beautiful, or brilliant (it was a toss-up between wealthy and brilliant — beautiful took a distant third in the survey).
The survey also studied how women's beauty habits change according to their age and station in life. For example, the average number of beauty products used regularly increases as women get older. So does die urge to pamper themselves. "Older women, especially those with high incomes and a college education, are more likely to spend time taking bubble baths, reading beauty magazines, and getting their nails done," says Dr. Rubenstein.
Regional differences also play a part in how women beautify themselves. While the average amount of time women spend grooming themselves is 66 minutes a day, women on the East Coast spend only 59 minutes on their beauty regimen. In the South, however, the average time spent is 72 minutes each day. Women on the West Coast use significantly more skin care products than women in other parts of the country.
Beauty Is Power
While most women agree that wealth and brilliance have more value than beauty, they' still believe that beauty has remarkable power. For example, nearly 80 % of the women in the survey feel that there are definite advantages in life for beautiful women; 6% of respondents believe that beautiful women earn more money and are more likely to be hired for a job. "It's actually true," Dr. Rubenstein admits. But women's perception of what is beautiful is no longer based on purely physical features. Instead, they use their own criteria based on factors such as self-confidence, mental and physical well-being, personality, and individual taste ---positive attributes that set them apart from the rest of the world. Then, they look for products and services that will make them feel their best. The results are remarkable: 43% say they have "ugly days" only once a month or less. Older women have even fewer ugly days than younger women, which according to Dr. Rubenstein is the result of a sense of inner beauty that has deepened over the years. And beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder: Twice as many women would want to be described as "unique" over merely "pretty."
As a result, women look for ways to make their exterior appearance reflect what is on the inside. They tend to emphasize their strong points, to "heighten the features they find most expressive of their inner qualities," according to the study.
The Beauty Equation
Cosmetics are still an important element in a woman s beauty regimen; 73% of women still use them daily. Body moisturizer is the number one product used by respondents in three out of the four age groups (see chart), and is the second highest in the fourth age group. Fragrance and hairstyling products are important to nearly all respondents, as are eyeliner, lipstick, and mascara.
Dr. Rubenstein asserts that women will continue to frequent salons not only for the positive re- suits they get with their hair, skin, and nails, but also for the feeling of luxury and pampering then- experience. "The demand for pampering increases with self-confidence she says, "It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Q: How often do you have “ugly days”?
Everyone has their bad hair (or bad nail) days; but the survey showed they occurred infrequently. Nearly 70% of the respondents have just a couple of “ugly days” a month.
Q: How much control do you have over the way you look?
For the majority of women, control over their appearance comes from knowing what looks good and is good, for them. It might be a new shade of polish or an extra hour’s sleep.