Do you feel as though it’s the pretty young-looking thing who always gets the promotion? You’re not alone. A new study by Allergan Medical Aesthetics says over a third of women feel conscious of looking older than their colleagues – and over half feel increasingly judged by their appearance. We talk to highly respected cosmetic physician, Dr Cath Porter and leading plastic surgeon Dr Steven Liew to get their thoughts.
“Studies have shown more attractive individuals are more successful in most areas of their lives, from career to perhaps even home life – this has been well documented in psychology literature,” says leading Sydney-based plastic surgeon Dr Steven Liew.
It may seem a harsh reality but it’s one that most of us feel acutely aware of. New research study, Face Value, conducted by Allergan Medical Aesthetics, has found that 51 per cent of women feel increasingly judged on how they present themselves in the workplace – and a further one third (34 per cent) feel how they look impacts their prospect of getting a promotion.
“I don’t think it’s harder for women to maintain credibility in the work place, as credibility is about ideas, intelligence, action, proven results and past performance,” says leading cosmetic physician Dr Cath Porter. “It’s just harder to actually get a seat at the table and to be noticed.”
When it comes to the workplace, it seems it is tougher for women to stay feeling relevant, with over two thirds (67 per cent) stating they feel under more pressure than men to look younger. And that pressure is not just skin deep. With more career women than ever before reporting stress from longer hours, tighter deadlines and greater expectations to check-in after-hours (when there is probably family and friends and home commitments to also attend to), it’s no wonder working women feel tired.
“I certainly recommend a better work/life balance where possible to look less tired, however we all know this is not necessarily realistic these days,” says Dr Liew.
The good news is, with today’s advanced skincare, professional skin treatments and cosmetic advances available, there are some very good ways for women to boost not only their looks but also their confidence in the workplace.
“One of the most common things we like to do is freshen up the skin by thoroughly cleaning the skin, using a chemical peel, followed by LED light, which will give the appearance of glowing skin,” says Dr Liew.
Dr Porter advises educating women about why they are feeling less attractive – and what they can do about it.
“I would recommend, first and foremost, a full face consultation and some education around the ageing process. Women should understand what they are seeing in the mirror, and why,” she says. “In terms of treatment, I would start with skin, such as IPL or laser to correct pigmentation, capillaries, facial redness. Unblemished, glowing skin always looks youthful,” Dr Porter adds. “Living in Australia, doing some form of IPL/laser every winter is a great maintenance regime to keep brown spots at bay and to keep maintaining dermal collagen production. Next, I would recommend looking at the facial shape, as heart shaped or oval faces are generally deemed more attractive. As we age, we tend to square off in the lower face and lose volume in the mid-face, thereby altering that youthful shape.”
And the pressure is not just with older age groups; seven out of ten women aged 25-34 feel more pressure than ever to look younger, which reflects in the number of young women seeking procedures.
“For my career orientated clients, I would suggest starting with the skin, potentially using a range of cosmeceutical products at home to not only prevent ageing, but stimulate the skin so that it looks better for their age,” says Dr Liew. “For younger patients who are starting early [with injectables], we may schedule appointments for fillers every 1 to 1.5 years.”
In the 35-49 year old category, half (51 per cent) feel they are increasingly judged on how they present themselves.
“For those a little older, we would consider using a small amount of product placed in various parts of the face, ranging from cheek folds to under eyes, and perhaps the corner of the lip,” says Dr Liew. “This will give them a full face, natural and conservative make over. Following this, they would require regular maintenance work every 1-2 years. I would recommend scheduling some laser therapy for patients who require more attention to the skin.”
There is though a definite fear of being “found-out” amongst women who have had non-surgical cosmetic treatments with 71 per cent saying they would expect judgement from having an injectable treatment. When Professional Beauty asks Dr Porter whether she thinks people are really so judgmental, she says, sadly, they are.
“Unfortunately it seems those who don’t engage in cosmetic treatments are quick to judge those who do,” says Dr Porter. “This is often coming from a place of ignorance. What these women don’t realise, is that the majority of women who have non-surgical cosmetic treatment actually look so natural, you wouldn’t guess they had anything done. The really overdone, disproportionate looks are definitely the minority but the most visible, so therefore the ones who get the most airtime.”
The good news is that 17 per cent of women don’t want to change themselves dramatically, stating that they just want to look a better version of themselves.
“I believe that most women want to look a better version of themselves. Unfortunately we have been inundated in the quest to look younger, but women do ultimately just want to look the best version of themselves, and that has always been the philosophy at my clinic,” says Dr Liew. “More importantly, we want to perform procedures that make the patient look great, without being obvious that they’ve had anything done. We are certainly moving away from try pumped up lips, mimicking what people are seeing in celebrity magazine; this is the essence of a good cosmetic procedure.”
So does good skin and better looks have an effect on the confidence (and happiness) levels of our clients?
“Looking good for one’s age certainly puts a spring in the step,”says Dr POrter. “It creates an energy that is positive and infectious. Confidence and happiness definitely come from within and from a place of acceptance and self-knowledge.”
Dr Liew agrees: “There is no question that injectable treatments improve confidence and improve emotional well-being, which ultimately leads to being more productive in professional and family life,” says Dr Liew. “Well-executed, non-surgical treatment leads to preserving and enhancing natural beauty. We aim to ensure the patient looks and feels the best they can, at all stages of their lives.”