You probably know Stephanie for her educational, STEM realness, and #FancyScientist posts. So here I am to present this week’s #PolishedProfessionals – Stephanie from Fancy Scientist!
I am a wildlife biologist with 15 years of experience in mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. I work with citizen scientists and camera traps to study mammals all over the world.
For you, does beauty play a role in being a scientist? If yes, how?
Beauty plays a role for me in being a scientist because it is part of who I am. I don’t view it as beauty persay, but rather as an expression of myself. I have personally always loved fashion and makeup, and I personally feel better when I get to express myself by wearing things I love. Quite simply, fashion and makeup bring me joy and happiness. It’s an opportunity for me to have fun, be creative, and playful. As a young girl, some of my favorite things to do included dressing up in my mom’s old clothes and creating different looks, creating different makeup styles, and drawing my own fashion designs. I personally elevate this side of me through outreach because I think it’s important for people, especially young girls, to see a diversity of scientists. There’s a stigma that you can’t like things like makeup, fashion, or pop culture, and be smart, like science, or the outdoors. I want to show girls these are not mutually exclusive. You can wear high heels and do fieldwork.
Do you have any experience with being treated differently in your professional life for beauty habits or routines that you participate in?
It’s hard to say. I always thought people were thinking bad things about me, but they never said it to my face. I did have one incident though. A professor I worked with made a comment about a shirt that I ordered online while in the field. They said “oh, so that’s what you were doing,” as in I went to Gabon and spent all of my time online shopping!
The overarching message I received in graduate school is that all of your free time should be devoted to your thesis. It didn’t really matter what you were doing, just that if you were not spending time on your thesis, it was a waste of time. Fashion and makeup are two easy hobbies/lifestyle choices that are easy to see and attack. People assume it takes a lot of time when in reality it doesn’t have to. My daily makeup takes me about 5 minutes in the morning and my clothes don’t take any longer than any other clothes. In fact, in graduate school, I tried to dress down some days and wear yoga pants, but I just ended up taking longer to get ready because I couldn’t find the right shirts to wear with them.
I do still think though that a lot of people think I am stupid before I speak. Again, in graduate school, this held me back a lot. I didn’t ask questions in class or seminar and even started dressing down to be taken more seriously. Now I kind of like it and dress up even more. I like to surprise them. In fact, I know one of my references told an employer that I didn’t look like I would be good at field work, but I am. I liked that.
If you could formulate one product what would it be?
My hair is really fine and little so anything that could make it thick and long like J. Lo!
Desert island beauty product edition! What 3 products would you need to survive?
I’m assuming this is a tropical island? If so, then lots of mineral, reef-safe sunscreen. I’m really white and burn easily. My other two would be moisturizer and lipstick or some other lip product. I was never a big fan of lipstick until I found Beautycounter. Theirs is like a luxurious chapstick. All of my products would be from Beautycounter and I actually became a consultant because of their strong environmental mission.
Much of your work involves being outdoors; do you have any advice for those who work in a similar industry on how to adapt their beauty habits for the outdoors?
When we go camping or to remote locations, we often buy things like biodegradable soaps and shampoos because of their impact on the environment. So rather than buying something special for fieldwork, I think we should always be using products with minimal impact on the earth (which is why I use Beautycounter).
My field routine is the same as my regular routine, except I usually don’t wear makeup just because for the most part no one sees me. It’s also easier and faster to not wear makeup in the field. Sometimes I do wear mascara to the field because I like it, but I rarely wear anything else because you get all sweaty and gross and it just runs off. I really don’t like looking like a dork. I hate most field clothes sold by REI, etc, so I wear old clothes a lot of times or try to buy the most normal-looking field clothes. I also never use bug spray. I think that stuff is disgusting and worse for you then getting a bite. Just check yourself for ticks.
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