, Volume 14, Issue 1-2, pp 51-58

Resume evaluations and cosmetics use: When more is not better

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Physical appearance is an integral component of self-presentation in all social situations, including that of applying for a job. This project investigated the relationship between employment evaluations of women and one aspect of their appearance under the individual's control—the use of varying degrees of cosmetics. Cosmetics use was found to be positively correlated with perceived attractiveness, femininity, and sexiness. Based on resume evaluations, however, cosmetics use had a negative effect on the expected performance of female applicants for a gender-typed (secretary) position, but no effect on the expected performance of female applicants for a nongender-typed (accountant) position. Makeup thus appears to strengthen sex role stereotypes associated with traditionally feminine jobs.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Merle Norman Cosmetics and John B. Wheat, photographer, for their assistance in preparing the stimulus pictures. Partial support for writing this paper was provided by a Spurgeon Bell Fellowship to the second author. A previous version of this paper was presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, August 1983.