Women hit their beauty peak at age 31, survey says. Now wait until you read who got this survey started

When I read the news that a new study reveals that women hit their beauty and confidence peak at age 31, I immediately began mentally preparing my retort. Well, first I pulled up a photo of myself taken when I was 31 and compared it to the Facebook profile pic up right now. Then I started outlining my strongly worded end of the debate.

Then I noticed that this study, the one that got me riled up and is splashed across several sites and papers today, was commissioned by QVC.

Yes, THAT QVC. The network I'm pretty sure also hawks Marie Osmond's creepy dolls and special, spendy scrubby pads you can use to clean crayon off of walls. Why in the world, I wondered, are they suddenly the purveyor of scientific inquiry? And how will Bravo and Nick Jr. and MTV ever keep up?

Once I moved the ranty response to the research findings to the side of my brain, I realized what a strategic business move this is for the cable shopping network. After all, they sell beauty and anti-aging products. Their clientele has to be primarily women. And finally, every time this research is reported, they get the brand boost of having "commissioned by QVC" next to the findings. (And yes, I am quite aware I've contributed now three times to that marketing ploy.)

Congratulations, QVC! You've cornered the market on kitty Christmas sweaters and matte jersey palazzo pants and those weird Grandma gadgets that help you reach for things off the top shelf, and now it's time for you to take over media, laboratories, and women's body image. I'm just hoping I get pie charts and Excel spreadsheets of the study thrown in if I am one of the first 10,000 callers.

Annnd, breath. Back to the first issue. The big news that women's beauty is at its best at age 31.

This assessment is drawn from a survey of more than 2,000 men and women (by chance did I mention QVC sponsored this study?) who voted on what makes a woman beautiful. An overwhelming number of participants -- 70% -- said that confidence is a key trait of attractive women. The next most-cited factor was physical beauty, getting 67% of the vote (making it seem like respondents could choose more than one key factor in this already questionable survey). In third place was a sense of style, getting a nod from 47% of those surveyed.

Counter to startling revelation that every woman aged 32 and older out there is on the down slide to Unattractiveville, two-thirds of the women who took part in the survey agreed that "with age comes beauty." More than half of the women said that they felt more secure about themselves and felt more beautiful and confident as they aged. I'm going to just assume that half was well past their 31st birthday.

Who commented on the findings? No, not the lead researcher nor an expert on analyzing quantitative studies. Ding! You're right if you guessed the marketing director for QVC. So what did Sue Leeson have to say about who is looking hot and feeling good about their face and who needs to GET THIS GRILL BRUSH BECAUSE ONLY 17 ARE LEFT?

"This research shows what many have always suspected -- real beauty is about more than just good looks but a combination of confidence, style and personality too," Leeson told the Daily Mail.

Before you accuse me of being bitter because I'm several years past my apparent prime, you should know that I really just disagree. After paging through the profiles of the hundreds of people in my graduating class just weeks before our 20th high school reunion, my own personal research tells me that the women are looking a lot better overall than the men. I would even go so far as to say that the women look far better now, most of us at 38 years old, than we did at our last reunion ten years ago. Yes, I happen to be one of those women but if science is muddied by corporate investment, why should it be questioned by my own bias?

Before you take my own high school reunion experience as a beauty-ometer for all women in their 30s and before this survey sends you straight to the bathroom mirror to consider your crow's feet, dig up a few photos of your own. If you are over 31, what does the comparison of then and now tell you? And if you're not yet 31, how would you like to look when you turn that age?

Maybe it is a chance to take a bogus survey and use it in a healthy manner, to ask how we can be better to our bodies and gentler to ourselves and dismissive of all those internal and external messages that tell us we are anything but beautiful.

Maybe it's the opportunity to turn off the television, hide the credit card and go for a nice, long walk or or get a massage or run an extra ten minutes on the treadmill or pick out the perfect pint of strawberries at the farmers market or write a love letter to someone (it could even be you).

If none of that erases the message the QVC research that says women of one age and one personality are at their peak, consider a final fact: The survey kicked off the shopping channel's "Beauty Month." Coincidence? Oh, no. A big push for eye cream? You can count on it.

Let's make our own science, ladies! When were you looking your best? Raise your hand if it is right now? Tell us why if it was some other time.

[photo credit: Getty Image]