Women are not letting the continuing economic problems stop them trying to look their best. Research suggests that spending on clothing, cosmetics and plastic surgery continues to be considered a worthwhile expense even when economic conditions are severe.
In the eighties, when times were good, mini-skirts and conspicuous spending were all the rage. In the nineties hemlines dropped as fast as the stock markets as fashion reflected the dreary economy. Indeed some interesting research has been undertaken which demonstrates that skirt lengths and glamor levels have often been seen as indicators of the economic situation.
Interestingly, today’s women are bucking these trends and, in the face of tough conditions, are spending their sometimes scarce resources on dressing to impress. This trend is also being seen by plastic surgeons with procedures continuing to grow in popularity, even in the face of rising unemployment and economic instability. The reasons for this are thought-provoking.
New research suggests that women are focused on making themselves more attractive to the dwindling pool of men with good jobs. The competition for a partner with good prospects is fierce. This may make depressing reading for those who would like to see more equality between the sexes but, cultural norms and celebrity culture being what they are, it is not perhaps that surprising.
The research team at Texas Christian University have called this trend the ‘lipstick effect’
‘We may not consciously think we’re buying them to make ourselves more desirable to men. But our lizard brains go after these things even when we think we’re too smart to be lured in by manipulative advertising claims like, ‘these jeans will help get you a man.’ Says Sarah Hill, co-author of the study Tough times, short skirts: When the economy is bad women spend more on their looks.
Another interesting element to the research is that men are not following their female partners in this regard. While men are increasingly interested in looking younger, and are undergoing growing numbers of cosmetic surgeries, it is for different reasons. Men are not seeking well-paid partners but instead are improving their appearance in order to remain competitive in the shrinking jobs market.