A new article from The Atlantic is making the rounds on the internet. It is focusing on the fact that Fox News female anchors wear pounds and pounds of makeup, more so than the women on most news programs. But this is not just because it makes them look prettier under those harsh lights. According to Roger Ailes, Chairman of the network, there is a theory behind this strategy that may explain why it is the number one cable news network. At Fox, makeup is believed to have the power to make people like you better and therefore make you better at your job.
Now these women are appearing on television and not just going to the office but while the female anchors on other networks try to look as natural as possible (Rachel Maddow, everyone at CSPAN), Fox knows that people like to look at attractive people, even those of the same sex. Fox is known for hiring ladies of the young, blond and cute variety (who also know how to talk the talk. Hello Megyn Kelly) so a lot of makeup and a blow out literally make them jump off the screen. “There is a YouTube montage devoted to leg shots of Fox anchors, who are often outfitted in body-hugging dresses of vibrant red and turquoise, their eyes enhanced by not only liner and shadow but also false lashes. A Fox regular once commented to me that she gets more calls from network management about her hair, clothes, and makeup than about what she says. “I just think of it as a uniform,” she said of her getup.”
And the makeup, hot dress look isn’t just for the staff. Anyone literally appearing on a Fox News program gets the same makeover. Atlantic writer Liza Mundy: “There you are, a renowned expert on nuclear proliferation/immigration policy/the Middle East, obliged to regard yourself in the mirror and ask: Will I really go on national television looking like a cross between Captain Jack Sparrow and a waitress from Hooters?” Aile’s reasoning behind this does actually make sense, kind of. It dates back to that historic televised debate between then presidential candidates Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. This is perhaps one of the most important events in the history of makeup and television as well. From The Atlantic:
“When Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy, in 1960, many said that his fate had been sealed by bad makeup during a televised debate. Before an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show seven years later, Nixon groused about having to stoop so low as to go on television; Ailes, the executive producer for the show, persuaded him to embrace the medium, and the makeup. Nixon hired him to work on his next presidential campaign, and won.”
Ailes believes that anything on television, even news, is a form of entertainment. “He works like a Broadway producer,” said Gabriel Sherman, a journalist working on a book Ailes. He actually was at one point a Broadway producer). That, Sherman says, is why Fox sets look like stage sets: “The colors are brighter, the camera angles faster. Everything pops on the screen more, everything is eye candy.”
But the network also does this because they know their audience. Conservative women are actually less concerned about taking the Helen Gurley Brown route in your career aka using your feminine wiles to get ahead (hello Sarah Palin.) And though featuring pretty women does appeal to a male audience, women are known to like watching other attractive women as well. I mean, how else do you explain the appeal of America’s Next Top Model? “I have to say: I don’t really enjoy the news they broadcast, but I am entranced by Megyn Kelly’s holographic lip gloss,” Meli Pennington, the makeup artist, says. “I see it sparkling in high definition, and it’s really cool. Even though it’s strange, I’m entranced.”
Now for television, this formula clearly works but a normal office is a different story. Megyn Kelly may get some looks if she worked in accounting for Fox with her holographic lip gloss. A recent study has concluded that makeup has the power to make you seem more competent, likeable, and trustworthy, and attractive, too – just as long as you’re not wearing too much of it. The faces with “glamorous” makeup – a heavier, higher-contrast look – suffered in one way: Participants found them less trustworthy (though more competent). This fits in with an earlier study that found that spending too much time on personal grooming can actually lead to a drop in earnings for women. Researchers on the earlier study said this could be because “researchers say it “may have to do with the negative stereotypes associated with an ‘overly groomed’ woman in the workplace.” The study, by Jayoti Das and Stephen De Loachof North Carolina’s Elon University, found that if a white woman doubles the time she spends primping to 90 minutes from 45 minutes, her income falls by an average of 3.4%.