When I began writing my memoir and exploring the connections between inner and outer beauty I often wondered: “am I alone in feeling and thinking as I do? ” My 44-question survey was designed to help me find out. I posted it online from June 30, 2010 to to January 4, 2011, along with a shorter survey for men. 470 women and 112 men responded anonymously. Many of my questions and answers are featured throughout the book.
For those interested in methodology, The Beauty Experiment Survey and the Men’s Survey were hosted by a secure third party site– SurveyGizmo. This service prevents tampering by outside parties, prevents tinkering by inside parties once data collection begins, and provides all graphical analysis. My survey was designed to gauge a cultural temperature, provoke thoughts, and generate discussion. It does not meet the stringent demographic or sample size requirements of anthropologic or sociologic assays and should therefore be considered a set of starting points, not a set of proofs.
Below are all the questions and results from the Women’s survey with the results from the Men’s survey worked in alongside to provide a male counterpoint. In the book decimals have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
(Note: All survey data is copyrighted property and may only be excerpted with adequate citation.)
1. Have you ever been bothered by how much or how often you criticize your appearance?
2. How would you rate yourself as a “beauty role model” for a young girl?
Pretty good 46.4%
In the middle 24.6%
Pretty bad 8.5%
3. Please select how important hair removal is to you on each body part.
|Very important||Important||Less important||Don’t remove|
|Full pubic area||6.6%||10.7%||21%||61.7%|
4. (Women)If you have sexual relations with men, do you think your desirability would be jeopardized by having more body hair than your partner?
Yes, quite a bit 37.3%
Yes, a little 20.3%
Not really 27.1%
No, not at all 6.8%
Skip question 6.2%
(Men) Is a woman’s sexual desirability jeopardized when she has more body hair than you do?
Yes, quite a bit 52.3%
Yes, a little 18.9%
Not really 15.3%
No, not at all 5.4%
5. How much would I have to pay you to shave your head tomorrow?
Under $500 6%
10,000 and above 31.8%
I wouldn’t do it for any amount 21.3%
6. Do you currently do anything to alter your appearance—no matter how small– that causes pain or you worry is physically harmful?
7. How often do you wear makeup now?
Never 6.8 %
Everyday 18.9 %
8. Please complete the following sentence. My Most essential cosmetic makes me look…
Healthier or conceals a problem 24.7%
More alert or intelligent 3.5%
Less tired 20.3%
More professional and competent 11.2%
More sexually attractive 4.2%
Younger 8 %
Prettier or more feminine 31.2%
9. Can you name more than one ingredient on your most essential cosmetic?
Yes 20.7 %
No 36.1 %
I can’t even name one 43.1%
10. Which cosmetic would you be happiest to throw in the trash and never have to wear again?
Lipstick or liner 12.1%
Mascara 10.3 %
Eyeshadow or liner 5.1%
11. During which of the following activities do you think about how you look to others?
public leisure 64.8%
private leisure 17.9%
none of the above 3.4%
public leisure time 55%
private leisure 18%
none of the above 10.8
12. Do you ever feel a mismatch between how you look and who you are?
I used to 5.1%
I used to 3.6%
13. In what state do you think your current or most recent relationship partner finds you sexiest? (Women’s survey)
Home/casual look 38%
Totally au natural 23.2%
Dressed for work 19.4%
Decked out 19.4%
In what state do you find your current
or most recent relationship partner
sexiest? (Men’s survey)
Home/casual look 39.8%
Dressed for work 22.5%
Decked out 19.8%
Totally au natural 18%
14. Imagine you are standing at a social function, chatting with a friend near the door. Please rank the following people according to how much they distract you from your conversation.
1. Handsome male stranger
2. Handsome familiar male
3. Beautiful female stranger
4. Beautiful familiar female
1. Beautiful familiar female
2. Beautiful female stranger
3. Handsome familiar male
4. Handsome male stranger
15 Did you feel beautiful as a teenager?
16. What, if anything, has ever caused your definition of “sexually attractive” to change, shift or expand?
My looks 19.5%
No change 7.5%
My looks 7.3%
No change 14.5%
17. Politicians, TV personalities, high–level executives and other prominent individuals–men and women alike–spend considerable money on their clothes. However, the women often invest additional time and money on makeup, elaborate hairstyles and jewelry, and often wear high heels. How comfortable do you feel about this difference in standards of grooming for men and women in the public sphere?
Very uncomfortable 33%
A little uncomfortable 25.7%
Mostly comfortable 11.1%
Very comfortable 9.8%
18. Do you feel that women’s sexuality is an integral part of their power in the workplace or political arena?
Not usually 16.6%
Not Usually 14.1%
19. Have you ever felt bested by another woman because she had a better “beauty package” than you–good looks, beautiful clothes, perfect home, alluring demeanor–even when you were not competing for a sexual partner?
20. Has beauty ever changed your life?
(These were text responses)
21. Which of the following do you rely on most often to bring more beauty into your life?Please choose a maximum of three.
Loved ones or humanity in general 71.6%
The natural physical world 65.2%
The arts 44.1%
Home and things I own 37.5%
The universal or divine 18.1%
Work and the problems I solve 17.9%
22. How would you rate your sensitivity to the sensory beauties: how things look, sound, feel, taste or smell?
Very high 26%
Very high 26.1%
23. It might be said that a woman’s face, figure and wardrobe are her most important art project. How do you feel about this statement?
I agree 3.6%
I agree somewhat 44.3%
I don’t agree 44.8%
24. Did you play dress up as a child?
25.How many items of clothing (including shoes, hats, and underwear) do you acquire in a year? “New” means new to you, so vintage, thrift, clothes-swap, self-made and hand-me-down items DO count.
over 200 .6%
26. Of all the clothes you own, which is your favorite garment and why?
(These were text responses)
27. How old are you?
Under 19 4.7%
28. Which of the following are pressing concerns of yours right now?
General physical or mental health 71.9%
Job or School 59.5%
Maintenance of household 39.9%
Caretaking of dependents 35.2%
Community participation 22.8%
Women’s health issues 17.7%
Other illness or condition 9.2%
Job or School 59.5%
General physical or mental health 57.7%
Caretaking of dependents 36%
Maintenance of household 30.6%
Community participation 18.9%
Men’s health issues 10.8%
Other illness or condition 8.1%
29.Which of the following periods in your life caused the greatest or most difficult shift in your identity, including how you thought about your appearance?
Transition into adulthood 27.7%
Becoming a parent 20%
A personal or spiritual crisis 12.6%
I haven’t felt a shift like this 10.7%
Entering the workforce 7.7%
Getting married 3.8%
Having a parent die 3%
Leaving the workforce 1.3%
30. Do you think you spend more money on your appearance (buying clothes, shoes or makeup, getting salon or cosmetic treatments) when you feel anxious, sad or frustrated in other realms of your life?
31. Do you think you do more beauty “work” (exercising, dieting, plucking your chin, hemming all your pants, shopping for something hard to find online, organizing your closets) when you feel anxious, sad, or frustrated in other realms of your life?
32. How often do you feel suckered or pushed into buying something you later don’t like or need?
33. Which activities do you do most often with other women friends? Mark up to three.
Share meals or drinks 82.7%
Catch up on the phone, email or text 73.8%
Go out 33%
Go shopping or get pampered 25.6%
Play sport or other physical activity 18.8%
Club or organization membership 14.3%
Creative projects 10.2%
Domestic work or childcare 9.6%
34. Have you ever felt that your real life doesn’t match up with your own internal picture of success?
I used to feel this way but got over it 6.6%
35. Do you believe in “happily ever after”?
36. Have you ever been in a monogomous, unmarried relationship where you sometimes felt you were waiting around for your partner to “be ready”, “figure him/herself out” or “clean up his/her act” so you could start a life together?
37. How do you feel about princess, Barbie, Bratz and other girly-girl products? (Other examples might be kiddie spa parties, make-your-own makeup kits and princess makeovers for preschoolers at Disneyworld.)
I don’t like these products 35.6%
I have my reservations 39%
It’s probably harmless 17.1%
Other opinion 4.3%
I love this stuff 4.1%
Please rate your financial independence.
Completely dependent 8.5%
Mostly dependent 14.9%
Half and half 18.9%
Mostly independent 29.1%
Completely independent 28.5%
Completely dependent 1.8%
Mostly dependent 7.2%
Half and half 10.8%
Mostly independent 31.5%
Completely independent 48.6%
38.What is your household’s income range? Dependents, please use the income of whoever pays your bills, whether or not you live with them.
Under 50,000 24.3%
$500,000 and above 1.9%
I’d prefer not to answer 8.5%
Under 50,000 19.8%
$500,000 and above 2.7%
I’d prefer not to answer 5.4%
9. How often do you feel guilty about something you’ve bought, either because it’s frivolous, too expensive, not quite in line with your values (or your partner’s values) or not worth what you paid?
40. Overall, which best characterizes how you feel?
I don’t feel materially wealthy, but I do feel rich in other ways. 53%
I feel materially wealthy and rich in other ways, too. 37.9%
I feel materially wealthy but not rich in other ways. 4.5%
I don’t feel materially wealthy, nor do I feel rich in other ways 4.7%
41. Do you, personally, give money regularly to a cause, institution, political group or other organization that promotes your values and beliefs?
42. Of the following issues, which do you feel you have some personal experience with—experience that might cause you to reach out and help others facing similar challenges?
Getting educated or providing schools 58.7%
Women’s health 54%
Academic, intellectual, political, religious freedoms 38.7%
Discrimination, any kind 29.4%
Domestic or sexual violence 18.7%
Workplace fairness and safety 16.8%
Ensuring safe and adequate food and water 12.1%
Finding housing 11.3%
Investing capital in a business, farm, or service 7 %