From the Pyramids to the Present: The Relationship Between the Enhancement of Facial Features by Cosmetics and a Woman’s Increased “Halo Effect” and Perceived Reproductive Status

Vibha Shekhar

Abstract


Female makeup in the ancient Egyptian time period versus cosmetic use in Modern America was studied to determine whether cosmetics alter a women’s perceived reproductive status in order to help the reader understand whether society seems to equate a woman’s facial beauty with her fertility. To answer this question, journal articles that explored the types of cosmetics used by the ancient Egyptians, the cosmetics used by modern-day Americans, the relationship between the use of cosmetics in ancient Egypt and in modern-day America, the correlation between beauty and the beautiful individual’s “halo-effect” in society, and how individuals tend to perceive women as more fertile (and valuable) due to their physical attractiveness were examined. A study was conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in which photographs of five Caucasian women wearing no makeup, modern-day makeup (applied in accordance to researchers Nancy Etcoff, Lauren Haley, David House, Angela McKeegan, Richard Russell, Ian Stephen, Shannon Stock, and Sarah Vickery), and ancient Egyptian style makeup (applied in accordance to individuals’ cosmetics portrayed by ancient Egyptian works of art), were shown to 11 VCU students (6 female, 5 male). The results were quite similar to those found by the aforementioned researchers, who found that attractive individuals are perceived as more socially competent and likeable, and receive better societal opportunities. Men, since the Neolithic time period, have sought to expand their bloodline, and tend to prefer beautiful women as the birth-givers, as men perceive beautiful women as more valuable and fertile than average-looking women12; therefore, because cosmetics increase a woman’s perceived beauty, cosmetics can therefore increase a woman’s perceived fertility as well. Women who wear cosmetics tend to reap the societal benefits of feminine beauty (collectively known as the “Halo Effect”), which is relevant because it demonstrates the idea that women no longer have to be naturally beautiful in order to receive societal benefits.


Keywords


Cosmetics, Halo-Effect, Perceived Fertility

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