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Harrods Pressure Woman to Wear Makeup

Woman Quits Over Pressure From Employers to Put on Makeup

Although we all agree that dressing to impress can be beneficial in a work environment, being pressured by your employer to put on makeup might be taking it a little too far. Melanie Stark, 24, who worked in the HMV department in British retailer Harrods, was so stressed out by her managers asking her to comply with the department store's strict dress code that she ended up leaving her job.

The code states that women have to wear "full makeup at all time: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all time and maintained discreetly (please take into account the store display lighting which has a 'washing out' effect)."

It's understandable that every business has different types of dress code, and the rules will probably be stricter if your job is to meet with customers every day. However, Melanie had already been working for Harrods for five years, before they decided to implement the makeup rule. Further, they seemed to be pretty aggressive about it. She was sent home twice and she was even forced to work in the stockroom once because of her refusal to comply. Her then superiors suggested a makeup workshop for her to see what she looked like with makeup, which to Melanie implied that her face would be an improvement with eyeliner and lipstick.


The former sales assistant said that she was appalled and that she doesn't understand "how they think it is OK to say that." In a letter she wrote to Harrods, Melanie said, "To be told that one's face is inadequate is extremely degrading."

I can see how embarrassing it must feel to be pressured by your managers to put on makeup if you prefer not to wear any. Should Melanie have complied with the dress code or are her employers in the wrong?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
dancnfvr dancnfvr 5 years
I agree with American Eagle. requiring make-up as part of a dress code is offensive unless EVERYONE is told at the time of hiring of that requirement. I am allergic to every lipstick and other products I have tried except for Almay eye shadow, mascara and eye liner. But it still makes my eyes itch so I end up with raccoon eyes and black fingers. Yes this harassment created a hostile work environment and I sincerely hopes she finds a damn good lawyer and sues their ass so she never has to work again. I personally wish I could sue every department store that sets their fragrance department next to the store opening with ignorant people spraying the air and you if you make the mistake of walking past. It is maddening to start into a store with friends, have to knock their hands away from you screaming DON'T SPRAY ME UNLESS YOU WANT TO PAY FOR MY HOSPITAL BILL!!!! Just in time to start wheezing and having to run and sometimes crawl back out of the store into cleaner air.
Emily-Co Emily-Co 5 years
@American Eagle It's totally not weird at all! It's really great to hear the male insight. Welcome!
American-Eagle American-Eagle 5 years
Maybe it's weird that I'm posting here and I'm a guy (I hope that's allowed) -- but I think that a "dress code" requiring make-up is offensive. It's too bad she was pushed out after five years by what came to be, in my mind, a hostile work environment. No one should need to wear make-up in a setting like that (or just about any setting, if you ask me).
The rule seemed not to be in place at time of employment. BUT did the employers think that people could be allergic to makeup? Lotions? This is a medical reason.
Kasers Kasers 5 years
You guys need to be sure to read carefully she worked there for 5 years BEFORE the rule was set in place.
awesomepants awesomepants 5 years
Waah? Why would someone have to wear that much makeup? I would understand it if the employer told the worker to even out her skin but blush and lipstick? Puh-lease. I hate it when employee's look like clowns. It's why I hate shopping at makeup stores. Geez, those MAC girls scare the crap out of me.
amber512 amber512 5 years
Yeah, why wait so long to say anything if it's such a huge deal?
alliekat alliekat 5 years
I think that an employee must follow a dress code that is laid out for all. She's known about it since she was hired. That being said, waiting five years to say anything to her or just making it a big deal now wasn't so great.
runswimmerrun runswimmerrun 5 years
Ha, I'm an engineer. I rarely wear makeup to work. I recall a Dilbert cartoon that said an engineer that looks too good, he/she can't be trusted, lol. I think it goes with the job description. Harrods may be too aggressive, but it makes more sense for a woman on the Harrod's sales floor to be wearing makeup that, for example, a woman working in Harrod's stock room. It makes me curious to know what the Harrod's dress code is for men. Metrosexuals use just as many (or more) products than women. The same logic would require men to wear, moisturizer, concealer, bronzer, to keep their eyebrows trimmed, lip balm, etc.
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