Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Make Yourself Attractive

I remember when I first realized that anyone can become reasonably attractive. I was a missionary in Wisconsin and there was a woman in the ward who was nowhere NEAR my "type" of woman, but who did such a good job presenting herself with her dress and grooming that I thought, "My goodness, she's made herself really pretty!"

"You sexist PIG!" No, I'm not saying she was grooming herself for male approval. After all, heterosexual women still groom themselves before spending time with other heterosexual women. "That's because they're all secretly comparing themselves on a scale of likelihood of male approval!" Jeez, are you always "on"? People look at sunsets because they are beautiful. People look at flowers because they are beautiful. People look at beautiful women because they are beautiful.

In economics we sometimes talk about the beauty premium. (In Greg Mankiw's textbook, it's an excuse to include a picture of Keira Knightly.) While some people complain about the beauty premium as evidence of rampant sexism, here's an interesting finding: it's all accounted for by grooming (for ladies, at least).

I suspect this finding will be completely ignored, like the findings that most versions of the "gender wage gap" don't hold up to scrutiny. It's easier to tell yourself your boss is sexist than it is to find out if you're an autumn or not. (I'm serious: I don't even know what it means to be an autumn.)

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