Over at BoingBoing.net there was a recent post gleefully reporting “Study finds women try to look better on Mondays”! Interested, I popped over for a look and from what was indicated there you would have thought that this information came from a solitary study done on just women, right: “A new study has found that women spend four times longer to get ready for work on Mondays than on Fridays.”
Well, since BoingBoing obviously wasn’t interested in the nitty-gritty details bit I actually followed the linked Reuters article to see if I could find out where this great “haha! Women take so long to get ready…but even more on Mondays! So get your kicks looking at the hottie co-workers on Monday guys ’cause damn they are totally not into looking their best by week’s end y’all” blurb originated.
Well from the Reuters article angle you’d almost again think this was all based on a women-only study. While the article’s title is less gendered “Do your colleagues look better on Mondays?”; the lead-in line again focuses solely first and foremost on the “Wow! Women take so much time getting ready!!” aspect; only adding (seemingly begrudgingly) that lo and behold, this study was actually done on 1,000 women AND men:
“British women take four times as long to get ready for work on Mondays than on Fridays, while men also put less effort into their appearance as the week goes on, according to research by retail chain Debenhams.”
I can almost hear the school-yard-esque squealing of the folks writing this up. “Hey! Hey guys! Look at this study’s findings! *bwah!* Freakin’ women take FOUR TIMES as long to get ready for work on Mondays as on Fridays! Hah! *insert some kind of “and yet this particular woman could take twice that and still not look good enough to look at” inanity that passes for wit* We need to write an article about it!” And here is where I imagine a small voice piping up “um, guys it also says that men experience the same curve of reducing time spent on personal appearance over the course of a week.” “But that doesn’t have the same editorial kick as “Women spend FOUR TIMES as long getting ready on Monday!” Whooo we’re gonna hit this one outta the park, am I right guys??”
Anyways, crazy imagined scenario aside, I mostly want to point out just how easy it seems to be for the emphasizing to be on that crazy amount of time women take primping themselves. 4 times as long on Mondays! What I found even more interesting, is that even the average female time of 19 minutes of Friday morning preparation is a mere 9 fewer minutes than the average man will spend on his Monday retinue. Is this a distinct reflection of the vast disparity between standards of cleanliness for men versus women? An indicator of just how long it takes to do all that maintenance society expects of “female-kind”?
If you take away the time given to make-up (a full 18 minutes for women on Mondays), and the time spent deciding which garment to actually wear, assuming that a man has the “simple” decision of which color of polo or button-down shirt to wear with his jeans or khakis, (again, 16 full minutes on Mondays for us ladies) ; that still leaves 14 extra minutes of washing and showering. Are we women taking longer showers because we’re shaving all that heaven-forbid-it-exist hair from our bodies? Does having (in general) longer hair factor into this time?
These articles, which are so gleefully focused on pointing out that women look better on Mondays, reinforce not only the idea that women are held to higher beauty standards than men (which result in longer prep-times to achieve); but that women are to be giggled at for all of that effort anyways. In a “can’t win for losing” sort of way, this emphasis on pointing out how incredibly long women take to get ready and therefore “be a better looking co-worker” fits nicely into an equally disturbing tendency to mock that very same trait via “Man-alive! Do women ever take long to get ready to go anywhere?!” meme.
Perhaps this is the point at which we need to be reminded that, man or woman or any identity along the gender spectrum, we are each under NO OBLIGATION to be “pretty” for anyone, on any day. I personally think that this little department store study of morning preparation ritual times throughout the week made the news because people are at the same time happy with (Yay! Girls are getting pretty for the male-gaze!) and disgusted by (GODS, what a waste of time and resources! Why can’t those damn women just jump in the shower and go like the rest of us (ie: men)??) the huge amount of time women spend “getting ready” (aka: trying to achieve the brass-ring of Passing Female Beauty Standards via physical appearance maintenance time).
So anyways, just something to think about. When people point out how long women take to “get ready” are they pointing out how terribly unfair the standards of beauty are which make some feel compelled to work so long and hard to even near them (whether from actual desire or from fear of not complying)? Or are people just once again laughing at bland stereotypes about women just needing so long to primp themselves when men can “pass” as clean as long as they aren’t wearing something dirty and wrinkled or smelling of natural body odors? Well, I should state that “they” can “pass” as long as they are part of the white male spectrum; I’m sure this becomes a different hill to climb once you mix attitudes about race and size and shape into the bowl.
Something to think about.
Me? I try to look my “best” on Wednesdays like today since after my main job at a library warehouse I head off to the second job as a reference librarian at a public library. What day (if any!) do you spend the most time getting ready? Is it something you do for fun and enjoyment, or for drudgery, or even because you fear that not doing so might bring about some sort of negative social retribution?