Made Up


I work for a large PR company, and we put on a lot of events for clients. I don’t wear a lot of makeup to work, but I do wear foundation and mascara. At one event my boss (female) asked me why I wasn’t wearing any makeup. I said I was, just that I didn’t like wearing loads as it didn’t suit me. “It’s what the clients want”, she said. “Next time, if you don’t wear a lot more, I think we might have some problems with our working relationship”. #MFIF

Miss. C, London


25 Responses to “Made Up”

  1. Lauren Says:

    I simply hate how women appropriate misogynistic views and become part of the problem rather than the solution.

  2. Innogen Says:

    I worked for 10 months in a well known Oxford Street store as a section manager and I was told by three female colleagues that unless I at least wore some powder and mascara I had very little hope of a promotion. I was also advised to wear high heels. I am a bolshy type though and totally ignored their “friendly” advice.

  3. Lorna Gregory Says:

    Are you unionised? Log the comment somehow (does anyone know how you are supposed to do this with out making an official complaint). Don’t wear any more make-up than you want to. If there are any more comments or she acts on her threats, make a formal complaint, and if that doesn’t work take the company to an employment tribunal. These kind of attitudes can’t be tolerated.

  4. H Says:

    Vomitvomitvomitvomitvomit your boss is mad! I only wear mascara occasionally and would probably think of wearing foundation as quite a bit of makeup, I guess that means I wouldn’t have even made it past the interview stage at your company.

  5. Dave Says:

    Stop whining. If you turned up with green hair and you were sent home because it was inappropriate then no-one would have any sympathy. I think it is perfectly legitimate for a company (especially one dealing in PR) to put forth a particular image, and asking you to fit in with that is hardly a scandal.

    • shftwrk Says:

      No one would have any sympathy because it is an absurd example. The problem is that this is a particular case in a huge cultural practice of putting women in the role of a seductive, demure service provider, pandering to the dominant (masculine) expectations of femininity. Sure it’s not scandalous, but that’s because it’s so very insidious, not because it is acceptable.

    • CH Says:

      Excuse me, but why are you here? The main point of this website is to present our stories of sexism “on a non-judgmental platform.” While I completely disagree with Stephen, at least he presents his ideas in a reasonable way and has posted a positive comment or two. What are you doing here if not complaining about what we have to say and problems we face?

      The problem is makeup is not necessary to look professional. When you expect women to dress professionally, you expect clean clothing that is appropriate for the situation and hygiene. Makeup is neither of those. Its intention is to make women look more attractive; therefore I would argue that Miss C.’s boss is saying she needs to look more attractive if she wants to keep her job. This implies that she is more of a prop than an equal member of the team, because if her “unattractive” appearance is enough to fire her, the actual work she is doing would be unimportant. I would certainly be insulted by this.

      • wolverine Says:

        Very good point.

        If she was asked to wear a nearly pressed shirt and pants, and she turned up in ragged combat pants, fine, but she behaved totally appropriately and was treated as if she were just an ornament. That’s not acceptable in modern society.

    • Jake Says:

      Dave, you’re retarded.

    • Matt G. Says:

      Stop pontificating. Stop making false analogies. Also, stop being a jerk.

    • cyrviana Says:

      I completely agree. Public Relations is all about appearance, and if a company makes more money when their employees put an extra five minutes into their appearance, then they should require it. you wouldn’t be upset if they asked you to wear a tie. It’s the same thing. Women who put more time into their appearance tend to look more professional, just like how a man is expected to keep his hair neat and short-ish.

  6. sam Says:

    @Dave — so, I’m sure if someone required YOU to wear makeup in order to keep your job, you’d totally do it. Without complaint.

    • The Heff Says:

      Well, I imagine he has to shave each day.

      • EK Says:

        Would it be acceptable for a male boss to require a male employee to maintain a clean-shaven appearance because it’s “what the clients want”, and tell him that they may “have some problems with their working relationship” if he did not remove his neatly-trimmed and presentable beard?

      • ehartsay Says:

        I am a woman who has to shave my face on a daily basis.

        Why should I have to do more than any man?

        Or maybe I should just let my beard grow to full length – full and long and then show up with a full face of makeup and a long beard. Would that be acceptale?

  7. Stephen Says:

    I have a job in market research where we meet a lot of clients face-to-face, Presidents of blue chip companies. I am expected to maintain a certain level of appearance at all times when f2f client interaction is likely, and I do. Wihtout complaint.

    And if our clients were some sort of goth megacorp and they wanted me to wear eyeliner and black lipstick while on the job, I would do it. Without complaint.

    If she wants to rock the back office, go in cargo shorts and flip flops, a stained t-shirt and a baseball cap. But when it comes to f2f client interactions, you’ve got to be on-brand for your company. If that means a wool suit in July with a tie, that’s what I do. It’s the right thing to do.

    • Matt G. Says:

      No, it’s not “the right thing to do”; it’s only the spineless thing to do.

      The right thing to do is to stand up to people who wish to enforce superficial, useless standards.

      Also, it’s easy for you to agree to a hypothetical scenario that’s so far-fetched as to be completely beyond the realm of possibility.

  8. teleen Says:

    I hate to say this, but her firm, her rules. She has a right to dictate how her employees present themselves and you have a right to quit if you don’t care for how she dictates.

    She’s running a business and is going by what the clients want to see. If you worked in a call center, I’d say that she was out of line. You work with in PR and it’s a job that’s pretty much totally about appearance and image. Her firm has an image that it wants to present, which at this moment you aren’t living up to. Perhaps you should look for a firm where the employees wear less makeup or better still, start one yourself.

  9. EmilyBites Says:

    Why are all these trolls coming to this site? We must be getting under their skin!

    I hate that double standard. A woman can wear a smart suit and shiny shoes to work but unless she puts (expensive) goop all over her face she’s not smart or professional enough.

  10. Lorna Gregory Says:

    teleen: Just because it’s a business does not mean gender discrimination laws don’t apply and this is a clear case of gender discrimination.

  11. Jaya Says:

    Oh please – here come the mansplainers! Women do not have to wear make-up anymore than men have to wear make-up. You can look clean and presentable without make-up! It’s not like she turned up to work with her hair unbrushed dressed in a bathrobe! FFS!!

  12. Craig Says:

    Comments on the patriarchal nature of expecting women to wear makeup aside, the op states that she wears foundation and mascara to work. I’ve always found that women who are subtle with their makeup are much more attractive than someone who looks like they apply eye-shadow and foundation with a blunderbuss.

  13. yumpopink Says:

    for the record, yeah, guys being forced to shave their well-kept facial hair for their job are also being unfairly asked to change a totally natural aspect of themselves. Just because some people choose to remove their facial hair doesn’t mean that those who don’t are less professional. It’s like asking someone to remove their eyebrows because “customers prefer it.” It’s up to everyday people and companies to change unjust popular conceptions, and PR companies are no different.

  14. Zas Says:

    Oh, boy, I LOVE the idea perpetuated by men that *only* men have facial hair.

    That’s why, what?, 90% of all women tweeze their eyebrows and wax their upper lip. I’d like to see what happens in an interview when a woman goes in without removing the upper lip hair or tweezing. Probably the same thing that happens to a guy with a straggly beard.

    Oh and in terms of removing hair as demand by ‘normal’ society, let’s see shall we?

    Men shave: face.

    Women wax/depilate/shave: Legs, underarms, arms, genital region.

    And so help you Dog, woman, if you have hairy legs and wear shorts or wear a sleeveless shirt and have hairy pits. The amount of harassment you will receive is staggering.

    Oh and on top of all of *that*, you’d better fucking wear make-up that will age your skin so the beauty industry can sell you more shit to cover up that foundation-aged skin. Opps, turns out mascara contains mercury. Oh and a study found that wearing nail polish is as bad for you while pregnant as smoking ’cause it contains so many toxins.

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