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.