Is makeup really important in the work place?


I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret, but you have to promise not to make fun of me. I read Cosmopolitan pretty regularly. There, I said it.

Despite its obsession with clothes, makeup and sex, there are occasionally really good articles in its issues — except the one I came across.

“Can makeup make you better at work?” The headline enticed me, almost like it knew I was going to be angry at it.

“It sounds wrong, but it may be right: A good lipstick can help you get ahead.” This was the subtitle and that alone was enough to irritate me.

The article cites a study done in 2011 where men and women were shown headshots of females. According to the study, those who were shown headshots of females wearing makeup judged them as more competent and likeable.

As annoying as that is, it doesn’t surprise me much. I feel like women – especially women in leadership positions – are expected to look perfect. To a lot of people, that requires that they wear makeup.

This infuriates me for many reasons. Why do I, as a woman, have to wear makeup to look professional when the man sitting in the office over doesn’t have to? Also, why does me not wearing makeup scream “unprofessional” to others?

The author pointed out that people judge you on appearances, especially first appearances, and I agree. But that doesn’t mean that women need to wear makeup to look presentable and professional.

If I walk into work wearing business-casual clothing, freshly showered, with combed hair and brushed teeth, I’m presentable, right? Wrong, according to this article.

What I see here is an underlying theme of societal standards constructed by the patriarchy and enforced, apparently, by women as well as men.

The only reason people think women look less professional without makeup is because we’ve been conditioned to think that. Men have never felt pressure to wear makeup.

In a world where we’re brought up watching movies with beautifully made-up women and seeing advertisements with photoshopped celebrities, of course we’re going to see makeup as the norm and fresh faces as “not caring about your appearance.”

Some women may want to wear makeup and that’s completely fine with me. The whole point is to have the choice to wear it or not. I don’t think that I should be judged or treated differently for “choosing wrongly.” That defeats the whole purpose of a choice.

As for me, I think I’ll take a page out of Alicia Keys’ playbook and keep rolling with the #nomakeup movement that she has taken by storm.

It took me forever and a day to become comfortable enough with myself and my appearance to go out without makeup on. Now that I’m at peace with myself, I’ll be damned if I let society change me.

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