Office Makeup Beauty Standards (or; My Experimental Week of No Makeup)

by Myranda — May 21, 2019
Makeup brushes, eyeshadow pallette, lipsticks, and other cosmetics

It’s a no makeup workplace experiment! Myranda stops wearing makeup for a week. Do her coworkers notice or should she quit wearing makeup forever?

A few weeks ago, I came across a Telegraph article discussing how bosses admitted to discriminating against women who do not wear makeup in the workplace. The choice whether or not to wear makeup is negatively impacting the hiring of women and their advancement opportunities. As someone who paints her face on a regular basis, this still still appalls me. I can appreciate that I do need to present myself professionally for a job, but I should not be held to an extra step to be considered properly attired. Like the men in the workplace, I should be in appropriate, clean clothes and have run a brush through my hair, but no more.

This lead me to conducting an experiment of my own making. What if, for one work week, I didn’t wear any makeup? What would people say? How would I feel, throughout the week, as conditioned as I am to makeup being a part of my public appearance?

BEFORE: with my usual full makeup look

Myranda's face with makeup
This is how I usually feel pretty – full makeup with a red lip, features defined by a skilled hand.

I prepared myself, internally, before girding my loins and forgoing my usual routine. It felt strange to simply moisturize my face in the morning. Leaving the house without my makeup felt akin to leaving for war without my full armour. My stomach was a pit of dread. I wanted to turn back and go put a little foundation, blush, and mascara on. Just a light little layer of colour. So I wouldn’t look like a potato, which is what I feel my face resembles unpainted. Round and undefined.

EXPECTATION: Ms. Potato Head

A potato with eyes and a mouth drawn on. My self portrait, Ms. Potato Head.

I was certain I’d be asked if I was doing okay. “You look tired,” I was so certain I’d hear. Especially since I’d actually been sick the day before.

No one said a single thing. No one even noticed. I finally caved and asked at the end of the week.

How much of my agony is just internalized standards of beauty? The voice of capitalism and sexism telling me I needed to spend money on certain products to look a certain way? Some part, certainly. It’s so engrained, it’s hard even to tell how much. I do have to disclaim, I have been blessed with fairly good skin. However, had I been more prone to breakouts, I might have been harder to get out the door and even try.

REALITY: No makeup selfie. A Temporary Experiment

Myranda's face without makeup
No makeup selfie. Not as horrifying as I thought it would be.

So does this mean that I’ll be throwing out my makeup, going barefaced from now on? I don’t think so. I like the way I look with makeup and I like playing with colour and highlighting features that make me feel good. What I can do is wear it more consciously from now on. And, on the days I want five to ten extra minutes to sleep in, maybe I can be a bit more comfortable just dabbing on some face cream and running out the door…

Have you ever stopped wearing makeup? What were your reasons? Did you notice any difference at work? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

You Might Also Like