Wednesday, 25 March 2009

And our survey says

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Stop the Presses! 25% of women say they would rather win America's Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. But the good news: 75% of women would shave their head if it would save the life of a stranger.

Sarah and I have a small obsession with idiotic surveys, but this one may be the most moronic of all. Let's picture the process at Oxygen Media, who carried out the survey, with the aim, apparently, of finding out whether women value inner beauty more than outer beauty.

Meeting room, day. Coffee, bagels, many executives with titles such as 'VP in charge of R&D'.

Exec 1. In these days of instant information and the internets, women are bombarded as never before with images of impossible beauty. How are we to find out what they really think about their looks?

Everyone Thinks.

Exec 2. I have a cunning plan.

Exec 1. Let's hear it. Push the envelope. Think blue sky. Run anything up the flagpole and see if I salute.

Exec 2. Let's ask them (pauses for dramatic effect) - would they rather win America's Top Model or The Nobel Peace Prize.

Ripple of excitement runs around the room.

Exec 1. I'm feeling it! Would you rather be Tyra Banks or Nelson Mandela?

Exec 2. Isn't Nelson Mandela a little last season?

Exec 1. His shirts are.


Exec 3. I know, I know. I've got it. Then you ask them - in order to save somebody's life, would you shave off all your hair.

Stunned silence.

Then, Exec 1 and Exec 2, in unison: Yeah, baby!

Exec 4. WTF?

Everyone ignores her. She will be quietly downsized later in the week.

Personally, I think the one in four women who do not want the Nobel Peace Prize are extremely sensible. Once you have won it, there is nowhere else to go. The very pinnacle of achievement has been reached; it's all downhill from here. Also, people will be far too intimidated by you to dare strike up a conversation, so you will have no one to talk to. Everyone will start sending you begging letters and television crews from South Korea will pitch up on your doorstep when you are having a catastrophic hair day. (When Doris Lessing was told by a reporter that she had won the Nobel Prize for Literature she said grumpily, 'Oh God,' and stumped off into her house in an absolute fury; she says she has not been able to write a word since.)

As for the hair thing: well, hair vs human life, no-brainer. But the one in four who refused the deal may have been bright enough to understand that there is no way in hell that hair removal saves anything. Even if you look like Demi Moore in GI Jane. The one in four must have been channeling Martin Amis, who would observe that the entire question is a massive category error.


  1. Lovely! I can just see that happening!

    btw, your book arrived today. Kudos first of all for making the book such a lovely shape and so pretty! I have been trying to resist reading it at work all day!

  2. Mystery - you are an absolute angel. Not only have you bought the book, but I see you have put it on your blog. Incredible kindness.

    So glad you like the design. I cannot claim credit (I just said, at every meeting: Please don't make it pink.) Sarah is the one with the tremendous visual sense, and she and our lovely editor got in cahoots, and came up with the idea for the illustrations, and then found the brilliant illustrator. The publisher made a real effort with the design, which I can tell you is not always the case.

    Do let me know what you think once you have a chance to read.

  3. I would rather win the Nobel Peace Prize bald than win America's Next Top Model, but I guess I'm in the minority.


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