Studies. What would we, or at least we journalists, do without them?
Without studies it would be difficult to venture into touchy subject matter. You can't just maintain things without a study to back it up. If I said, for instance, that many female motorists apply makeup while driving, I'd be accused of propagating a baseless stereotype: that women drivers are feckless fashion-slaves endangering us all as they slop on the face paint on their way to work. Even using the term "women drivers" could be deemed inappropriate (not to mention hack humour).
But then, last week, the Daily Mail in Britain reported the results of a study of 1,000 women commissioned by Debra Robson, a makeup specialist at Harley Street clinic in London. It opened the discussion. The survey found that 46 per cent of women admit to applying makeup while driving. They do this even though 43 per cent know it's dangerous. "Insurers estimate that as many as 450,000 accidents a year are caused by women drivers being distracted while applying cosmetics," the paper said.
Here is how the Daily Mail summed up the results:
- 43 per cent admitted putting on their face while driving cars on the daily commute;
- Most commonly applied at traffic lights or in a traffic jam;
- Confess they know it is dangerous, but still continue to do it anyway;
- Lip gloss is most popular cosmetic to apply while driving – 35 per cent do it;
- Average time spent applying make-up before work is 10 minutes;
- Just 5 per cent of women don’t wear any make-up to work.
No one who drives, bicycles, walks or simply has the power of sight will be surprised by these findings. Women cause accidents by applying makeup while they drive. Men cause accidents while driving by leering at women who are wearing makeup. It's the circle of life. We don't need a study to prove that for us. And, as for the observation, "confess they know it's dangerous but still continue to do it anyway," this can be applied to driving as a habit and to life in general.
A study always begs a question. In this case: Why do women put on makeup while driving? The answer is not, as you might guess, because they think their rear-view mirror was installed by Maybelline. They apply the vizard mask when motoring because they have no time. "It's because most professional women do everything in a rush," Robson told the Daily Mail, "particularly in the mornings when they are juggling a multitude of tasks."
Logically, there are three ways to stop women from applying makeup while they drive.
- Their husbands and boyfriends can do more around the house in the morning so that they have the time to apply their makeup at home.
- Men can stop requiring women to wear makeup and get over this sexist double standard and then women wouldn’t need to apply makeup while driving. Time formerly spent applying makeup could be spent cooking and cleaning.
- Women could get up a bit earlier.
Studies often reveal startling, unexpected findings. The fact that almost half the female population applies makeup while driving is no exception. Think about it. Women apply makeup while driving and yet male drivers cause most accidents. Does that mean women are better drivers? I mean, they're driving around with mascara sticks in their eyes, multi-tasking, and they're getting in fewer accidents than their makeup-free male counterparts.
Some will call for a ban on makeup motoring. Personally, I see a different development on the horizon.
Cosmetics companies are spending a lot of money and marketing effort trying to convince men to wear makeup or at least care how they appear. It's a tough task. Most men stop looking in mirrors after the age of 30 because, well, they look awful. When I look into a mirror, I experience a mute horror combined with an intense respect and gratitude for my wife. Still, if history teaches us anything, it's that when a big corporation wants something to happen, then it eventually does. Witness mobile phones. Nobody actually needs one, but now no one can live without one.
The most likely scenario is that a majority of men will eventually wear makeup.
Suddenly putting on your makeup while driving will no longer be seen as a silly feminine pastime but viewed as an important power move than must be accomplished by male drivers. There will be in-car Old Spice makeup applicators and gadgets to help men put on their makeup. Gillette will release automotive toners and dashboard lipsticks. Beer companies will sponsor NASCAR Makeup driving competitions to see who can best apply makeup while motoring. In the future, we'll hear announcers saying: "It's going to be a great race today – let's see if Kyle Busch Jr. can apply powder blush at 220 km/h without giving himself 'clown face.'"
Both sexes will be worse drivers, but we'll all look marvellous while doing it.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy