The Difference Between These Two Photos Highlights a Debate

August 24th 2016

An Indonesian blogger is gaining attention on social media for a revealing experiment involving people's perceptions of women wearing makeup.

Inspired by a Huffington Post experiment, a blogger who calls herself Francesca shared side-by-side portraits of herself on the website PhotoFeeler to see how others would rank her potential based on images of her with and without makeup on.

Though this was by no means a comprehensive study, and different countries have different beauty standards, the results were telling: People ranked her capabilities and personality traits higher in every way in the picture where she appears to be wearing makeup.

"The sad truth about the makeup tax on women!" she wrote. "I took the same exact picture, and only edited it to appear like I'm wearing light makeup with the @makeupplusapp (evening out skin tone, blush, 'natural' lip color, winged liner). As you can see, the picture with makeup is immediately ranked wayyy more favorably. Kinda sucky the 'makeup tax' does exist. The funny thing is, people ranked the make up pic as more authentic and confident, so to all those who insist women who wear makeup are fake and insecure....the stats don't lie."

Someone also described her as "tired" in the photo without makeup:

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"I would think going out without make up signals confidence, but nope," she wrote. "People think you're more confident with makeup. Kinda goes against what people like to say about makeup and insecurity. I thought the confidence measurement is important for work too, so now I know I definitely need to wear makeup before a big presentation."

Research has shown that wearing makeup helps women get ahead at work.

Earlier this year, a study published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility found that women who spend more time grooming themselves for work make more money than women who do not wear makeup or put much effort into their style at the office.

“For women, most of the attractiveness advantage comes from being well groomed,” researcher Jacyln Wong told The Washington Post in May. “For men, only about half of the effect of attractiveness is due to grooming.”

"I think that we more readily judge women, and so this presentation becomes so important to them," Wong added.

But makeup can come at a high cost for women in terms of time and money. The average woman will spend $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime, according to 2013 research from financial management website Mint.com, and other research from TODAY and AOL has show that women spend nearly an hour grooming themselves each day. That comes out to spending two weeks a year on appearance management. The research found that while women spend 6.4 hours a week grooming themselves, men spend 4.5 hours a week doing the same thing.

Not only are women expected to pay more in terms of time and money to meet society's beauty expectations, but they also often face what's know as a "pink tax" on women's products such as razor blades and shampoo — as compared to men's products.

Last year, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs studied close to 800 products with male and female marketing approaches and found that women's products were seven percent more expensive than men's products more than 40 percent of the time. Men's products were more expensive than women's products only 18 percent of the time.

"We must advocate for equality at every turn," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement at the time. "Gender discrimination is never acceptable, and when we know that women continue to make less than men every year, the findings of this study are insult to injury for female consumers."

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Do you think it's important to wear makeup to work?

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