To Make Up or Not to Make Up… THAT is the Question…

I’m not sure if any of you have heard of this over across the pond back home, but there’s a news item that’s come out this week that’s causing a bit of controversy and uproar.

Melanie Stark, an employee at the world renowned Harrods department store here in London was driven to resign from her job at the store after five years because Harrods was adamant that she wear make up to work. You can read the news item here.

Now, before I go into my opinion of the whole hoopla, have a read of this op-ed piece from the Daily Mail written by Liz Jones who, to be honest, is hit or miss with me on a good day.

Right… pick your jaw up off the floor. Yes, Ms Jones did just say that “Women who feel no compunction to improve what nature bestowed upon them are, in my experience, arrogant, lazy or deluded, and frequently all three.” Jones goes on to say “This is especially true in the service industry, where a bare face is no more acceptable than a dentist with halitosis. It tells me that a woman doesn’t really care what others think of her. “

Right. Before I start frothing off let me just say I do actually agree with one point Jones makes—that Stark did sign her employment contract fully aware of the dress code required. Whether Harrods decided to enforce that policy from day one or five years on is down to them, but regardless it is their dress code, for better or for worse. If you don’t agree with something that important to your day to day life (and choosing not to wear make up is actually a very important decision for a professional) then odds are the job isn’t right for you.


Why should someone care about what people think about them? I grew up being taught that I was an individual and that no matter what, as long as I was true to myself and to the people I loved then that’s all that mattered. Why should I care what (in most cases a complete stranger) someone thinks of me? In a perfect world, no one would give a toss what anyone else looked like and impressions left would be based on personality, intelligence and the like. It’s not a perfect world and I get that. I know I’m judged on what I look like from the moment I walk out the front door to the moment I walk back through it. That’s one thing I’ve never gotten used to about London—everyone, male and female, is eyeing you up and calculating your worth based on what your hair, makeup and outfit looks like. (One of the things I love the most about going home is not feeling pressured to wear makeup from the time I get up to the time I go to bed!)

I also think Jones is wrong when she goes on to gush “Look at Christine Lagarde, the new head of the International Monetary Fund, in her Hermes and Chanel. I see a woman who has organised her life impeccably, not someone who is either frivolous or permanently frazzled.” Fine, fair enough; maybe Lagarde is impeccable and is professional and a great role model. But what about Iris Robinson, the wife of the Northern Ireland PM who had an affair with a teenage boy? She’s always well groomed and tastefully coiffed and dressed.

And do I need to mention ex-Senator Wiener, who was quite physically fit and was dressed with care?

No. I don’t think we need to go there. To Ms Jones I say, “See? Pretty people can do some pretty ugly things.” And the comment above about people not wearing make up being arrogant? Please. Some of the most arrogant people I’ve ever come across are made up so heavily you can’t tell what they actually look like with the stuff off and are dressed to the nines and they walk around and treat people as if their poo smells of roses. I’ve met a lot of people like that… beautiful but with no hint of kindness or respect for anyone else.

To be fair, I completely agree about making a positive impression on clients. Personally, I wouldn’t come to work on a weekday when any number of people could come in without at least some foundation on. That’s my choice, not my organization’s. But on a Saturday? When my main purpose of being at work is purely to do cleaning and babysitting regular customers who come and go without actually seeing me? I don’t think so. I think I’ll continue to go make up free. And that doesn’t make me disrespectful… if I’m working a six day week and one of those days is a Saturday or Sunday, you’d better believe I’m not slapping on foundation, eyeliner, mascara, blusher and lipstick especially as the customers I encounter on those days are make up-less as well.

I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, regardless of what some over-middle-aged “journalist” for the Daily Mail says. And if that makes me disrespectful, lazy and arrogant, so be it.



And not to be nasty, but blimey… Jones could do with less makeup herself; she’s a dead-ringer for Snooki at 50 minus the poof.


6 thoughts on “To Make Up or Not to Make Up… THAT is the Question…

  1. This article made me mad on so many levels. Firstly, yeah, you need to expect repurcussions when you breach a point from your contract but why such sweeping generalisations? I understand that you need to represent the image of the company you’re working for but she seems to be confusing a lack of make up with being scruffy and dishevilled. I only wear make-up into work/uni if I’m meeting my boyfriend for lunch. If I’m happy to just use soap and water (with clean, ironed clothes and brushed, neat hair) I will happily stare down anybody who looks at me like I shouldn’t be comfortable in my own skin. This does happen way too much in London.

    1. I know… I was really mad at the Daily Mail piece. That was all coming from an over-middle-aged woman who wears so much makeup it looks tattooed on.

      I don’t wear makeup on an off day? *gasp* For shame! I must be lazy and arrogant!

  2. Also wanted to add that my favourite bit was “They think the world owes them a living, and that their ‘rights’ as an individual are all that matters.They have such enlarged egos, so much ‘sense of self’, that they cannot subjugate themselves to any one else any more. Not even the boss.” I’m so freaking GLAD this is the case. Yay for people who don’t become drones unless they have to and another yay for workplaces that let people feel comfortable and happy with less complete subjugation expected. OK, I will stop reading that and picking holes in it since I’m hijacking your entry. Oh wait, after I point out that this is so culturally biased as well. Sure some people see a well put together, confident, smart woman if she’s fully made up and serving them with a smile in a shop or bank. I can guarantee that there’s a significant number who will only see them as decorative workers and, if something were to go wrong, would want to speak to ‘whoever’s REALLY in charge’. This is coming from someone who works in a hospital in Tooting, even the idea of a female doctor trainee boggles the minds of some cultures, I get called a nurse. I really doubt that lipgloss would get me taken more seriously or seen as more professional. Graa! Hope you’re satisfied Steph, your rant has triggered my own 😛

    1. Hahaha… rant on, sister! I think more people should be ranting!!!

      I mean, who would I trust more–a doctor with or without makeup on? Honestly? I don’t care if a doctor is wearing makeup; I only care that they fix whatever’s wrong with me!! And am I right in thinking that hospitals discourage doctors/surgeons from wearing makeup as it has something to do with hygiene or bacteria or something? I may just be imagining that.

      Liz Jones is a prawn.

  3. I think it was disrespectful and rude for Liz Jones to remark that women who do not wear make-up are arrogant, lazy or deluded. I am NOT lazy, arrogant or deluded.

    I am a beautiful AFRICAN WOMAN WITH DIMPLES to boot and I do not NEED to wear make-up. I NEVER have and I NEVER will. My face, my RIGHT!

    I ONLY wear sunscreen[ shear butter] and vaseline on my lips.
    Liz, try facing the world barefaced. It might do you some good and release tension. OR, DO


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