This morning, I came across some palm-to-forehead headlines: "Women value beauty over Nobel Prize, poll indicates," "Network's Beauty Survey Has Some Not So Pretty Results," "Brains or beauty? Women still conflicted" and "You Want To Understand Women? Good Luck." I steeled myself for the grim results of the survey that had spawned such self-righteous head-shaking. The Oxygen Media poll of 2,000 women age 18 to 34 found that, brace yourselves, 75 percent of women would rather win the Nobel Peace Prize than "America's Next Top Model." Meaning: The vast majority of women value brains over beauty, altruism over narcissism.
The "not so pretty results," the "conflict" over the inner and outer self and the evidence that women as a monolithic group choose beauty over brains are nowhere to be found. Yes, a quarter of the female population would rather walk in the high-heeled footsteps of Adrianne Curry than follow Mother Teresa's humanitarian lead, but they are the minority. Similarly, 25 percent said they wouldn't "shave their heads to save the life of a stranger," nearly 25 percent of women said "they'd rather be thin than smart," 26 percent "would make their best friend fat for life, if it meant they could be thin" and 22 percent who "consider themselves attractive would rather lose the ability to read than lose their figure." It would appear from the results that roughly a quarter of the female population is consistently superficial; in other words, most women are not. Of course, that wasn't spelled out in Oxygen's press release or the ensuing media coverage -- because who, aside from you, dear reader, wants to read an article headlined, "Poll: Most women not that shallow!"
You would almost think there was an ulterior motive behind the survey to make women into vapid villains. Oh, wait, the network's press release about its scientific findings is accompanied by the following note: "Premiering March 31 at 11pm ET/PT, Oxygen's new series 'Pretty Wicked' puts looks aside as 10 women compete in a series of challenges designed to 'beautify' their insides to match their outside."