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Dress Codes That Require Makeup

Is Requiring Makeup at Work Sexist?

At 24 years old, Brit Melanie Stark embraces her youthful complexion by forgoing makeup. Unfortunately for her, the British department store she worked at has a two-page ladies' dress code that requires makeup far beyond a little mascara and lip gloss. Due to her refusal to ditch her natural look, Melanie was sent home twice from work, offered a makeup tutorial, and eventually, she claims, forced to quit.

The Harrods employee handbook says female workers must wear "full make-up at all times: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all times and maintained discreetly." Since service employees like Melanie come face to face with the public, Harrods might defend its face regulations as furthering a glamorous image. And it isn't the only retail store to have a controversial dress code including makeup regulations. Across the pond, American Apparel has dictates on makeup, but it takes the opposite stance, requiring a natural look. At American Apparel there must be no expressive eye shadow, blush, or lip gloss, no eye liner, and no heavy makeup in general.

In addition to requiring full makeup, Harrods's female dress code also mandates earrings (one in each ear) and bans visible tattoos. How does this compare to the rules for Harrods's male employees? Men cannot have sideburns longer than midear nor wider than one inch. Piercings and visible tattoos are banned, and deodorant is explicitly required for the gentlemen. Comparing the men's rules to the extensive makeup rules for women, do you think Harrods's dress code unfairly regulates the appearance of its female employees vs. the men?

Image Source: Thinkstock
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