GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY
GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY
Women at Work

No, Women Shouldn’t Have to Wear Makeup to Work

Partner Content

A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.

Julia Sonenshein, Skillcrush

When celebrities left and right started announcing they're off the makeup train in favor of more natural (read: less obvious but still made up) looks, I rolled my eyes. I simply couldn't muster any feelings about the performative unburdening of it all—cloaked as it was in superficial empowerment. (Celebrities: I know you are still wearing makeup. You aren't helping anyone).

My personal relationship to makeup can only be described as "whatever": I typically don't leave the house without some undereye concealer and a bit of mascara, even if I'm just going to get coffee or go for a walk, but a usual day is pretty limited to exactly that. Some would call that low maintenance, others would say that's ludicrous. Whatever.

But things change if I'm in a work environment. No matter how laid back the office—open floor plan, nap pods, coworkers who bring their puppies—I'm in full makeup. Not the fun, creative kind of makeup, but boring, workhorse makeup: concealer covering the shadows under my eyes, some powder toning down the redness of my nose, and cheek tint so I don't look quite so pasty. If anything, I'm going for that look all the celebrities are pretending is so noble: I just woke up this way, perfectly unblemished, vibrant, and inoffensive.

It's not the look I might try on the weekends when I put on some winged eyeliner or red lipstick. This makeup is to appear ostensibly "professional," or in reality, to pretend not to be a human person with flaws. This routine hasn't felt like a choice.

One day on the way to work, it was so humid and gross out that my makeup fully melted off of my face, and I wiped it off before I got to the office. Three people asked me if I was feeling ill or if I needed to go home. They looked uncomfortable when I deadpanned, "This is just what my face looks like."

At another job, a cut on my eyelid prevented me from wearing makeup for a few days and my boss told me to go home because I looked unprofessional. Never mind that a male colleague a few seats over had obvious undereye shadows and unkempt hair. The message was clear: In the office, men are fine as they are, imperfections and all. Women, on the other hand, must be improved.

I hadn't given this much thought—radical feminist as I am—because it was simply so deeply ingrained in my consciousness. But everything came into sharp focus when I started working at Skillcrush, where we're all remote and working from home offices on multiple continents. We have video meetings all the time—and when I joined the team, I would wake up, do my hair and makeup, and walk ten feet to my computer. Then I rolled my eyes at how ridiculous it all was to wipe off my makeup at the end of the day after not even leaving the house.

About two weeks in, I realized that I was squarely in the minority of employees putting on the ritz to sit in their own house—if not the only one. My coworkers looked happy and comfortable in their work environments, while I was squirming in my "professional" bra.

I couldn't figure out why everyone felt so comfortable being themselves, and I envied it until it finally dawned on me. Our CEO—everyone's boss—doesn't wear makeup most of the time when she meets with us from her home office, and culture starts at the top. It seems small, but it means that we don't have to, either. She offered us flexible jobs we could do from home and then demonstrated what it actually looks like to fit in your job around your life.

It's not enough to have an employee handbook full of platitudes about how cool your company is—if your boss doesn't take vacations, you won't, either. If your boss encourages risks but won't take them herself, you can't be expected do the same.

When culture starts at the top, it's a way for companies to walk the walk, and in our case, it instills gender parity when it comes to how we define "professionalism." And for a company that allows us to work from home on our schedule, it makes clear that we don't just have to trade the commute—we can also ditch gendered expectations about how we should present.

The idea of choosing whether or not to wear makeup to work might seem trivial, but I'd argue that the way women are expected to look at work is one of the many ways in which all women are held to a double standard in the workplace (not to mention the discriminatory, racist ways in which Black women are held to BS definitions of "professionalism" that don't include natural hair). It's not as simple as picking up the lipstick or not—it's about how women are perceived as professional or not based on something as silly as how they look.

Makeup is fun and anyone can and should wear it whenever they want. Even in my liberated new working world of undereye circles and air-dried hair, I sometimes dab on some lipstick for an afternoon pick-me-up. But exactly zero of my coworkers have ever asked if I'm tired, sick, or questioned my ability to do my job, especially while high-fiving a bro in a hoodie at the next desk. About damn time.

Want your own remote job where you're not expected to wear makeup every day? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Getting a Remote Job You Love for all the insider info on how to land your remote dream job.

What to Write in a Farewell Card to a Leaving Coworker: Quotes and Examples

For the boss you loved, the coworker you hated, and everyone in between

Two things are inevitable when someone leaves your team at work: there will be an abundance of sweet treats (I'm partial to those giant cookie cakes from the mall) and there will be a card passed around for everyone to scrawl the professional version of sweet nothings in. Depending on the "importance" of the person, you may get the bonus activities of farewell gifts and/or an all-team champagne toast.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
Peloton

A Night of Networking with Peloton’s Women Tech Leaders

If you are a New York based tech professional and you'd like to attend this event, please email your name and LinkedIn URL to events@powertofly.com.

Whether you are a software engineer, fitness enthusiast or both, you won't want to miss PowerToFly's evening of product demos and networking with the women tech leaders and allies at Peloton.

Founded in 2012, Peloton brought top talent together in its Silicon Alley headquarters to create a new concept in fitness. In their words, "We loved cycling but had a hard time finding a workout that consistently fit our schedules, and our at-home workouts never felt quite up to par. So, we set out to create a world-class indoor cycling studio experience on your time, and in the comfort of your own home."

This event is your chance to hear directly from the women tech leaders and allies who make their revolutionary products like the Peloton Bike, Peloton Tread and Peloton App possible. We'll be devoting a large portion of the event to taking your questions and I know the Peloton team wants to hear from you!

The unique evening will take place on Wednesday, February 12th from 6pm to 8:30pm at 125 W 25th Street.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS

Some Men Get a Pay Bump When They Enter Female-Dominated Jobs — How Can Women Benefit Too?

These Researchers Argue It Could Lead to Traditionally Female Jobs Becoming More Valued

Studies have found that as women take over male-dominated fields, the pay drops. So what happens when men start joining female-dominated fields?

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
Diversity & Inclusion

How Inclusion Can Help You Attract and Retain Top Talent

There's a lot more to building an inclusive company than just hiring more people from diverse backgrounds. So, how can you build an inclusive culture that will help you attract and retain a diverse group of employees?

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
Diversity & Inclusion

How This Sales Coach Found Success—And A Career Path—at the Intersection of Tech, Construction, & Sales

A few months ago, Lily Zintak found herself at a crossroads.

She'd been working as a Sales Development Representative in construction management software company Procore Technologies' Austin, Texas office for the better part of 18 months. She'd watched the office grow from less than 200 people to more than 400—and even cut the ribbon when they opened a new floor of offices. She'd made 50-plus sales calls a day, honed an approach to prospecting and connecting with clients that worked for her, and found success. It was at this point in her career, where she had to make a tough decision.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
Loading...
© Rebelmouse 2019