22 February, 2011

Lingerie shop to staff: wear make-up or else.

I still remember the moment when I realised that Virgin's female air crew didn't all co-incidentally choose to wear bright red lipstick and high heels. I was crushed. As if that weren't shocking enough, in 2009 the Bank of England (whom you would expect to have a little more class) issued an edict demanding female employees wear make-up and stilettos. Sadly, this is just another in a long line of such stories.

It has been brought to my attention that at least one branch of a popular lingerie chain, which shall remain nameless to protect the identities of whistle-blowing staff, has instructed its female staff that they must wear "at least" light make-up every day or face disciplinary action.

One staff member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that she had been criticised for looking "tired" when she arrived at work one day without make-up on, was advised to rectify the "problem" the next day. The same employee also pointed out that the majority of junior staff - who had been given the same advice - are very young women, with many still in their teens. Is it responsible, my informant wondered, to tell young women and girls that their natural appearance is not acceptable, and that they must alter their looks with make-up before they are fit to be seen in public? I'd say that's a no-brainer.

At the moment I do not know if this is a chain-wide policy or merely one shop manager getting a little to big for their boots, either way, it's a sad indictment of our superficial misogynistic society, which only reinforces the idea that a woman's worth is linked intrinsically to har physical appearance. Nameless underwear shop: FAIL.


  1. It's most depressing.

    I was talking with a couple of colleagues the other day, one of whom had been part of the interviewing team for some new graduates coming in. She said that one of the women interviewed came across really well and was great for the job, but the interviewers weren't sure what to do because she had a dreadlock in her hair.

    I spend ages arguing futiley (not a word?) that this shouldn't matter but was so vehemently shot down that I gave up.

    Should one chop out one's dreadlock for an interview in the same way that one should dress formally?

  2. Point of fact: the Bank of England issued no such edict. They sponsored a "what to wear in the office" seminar run by some external stylists. Possibly problematic (although they said it was requested by female staff for lack of a 'grey suits' cultural norm that the men had to fall back on) but nothing like you are stating.

  3. It's really stupid. I can understand saying 'dress smartly/professional' when you are interacting directly with the public and trying to look professional, as in don't wear jeans/tracksuits/trainers.

    But to say about makeup is ridiculous, especially to the very young. There is so much hype nowadays anyway with big named people and shows which are about promoting natural beauty, being happy with your body and without wearing makeup.

    I know the last time i was in La senza my friend and i were-I'm sorry to say- taking the piss out of the girls there who looked like they were about to go clubbing, with false lashes, pilled on makeup and glitter everywhere. Sorry but it looked trashy (as often over makeuping does) and put us off buying anything. If they were forced to wear that then i feel so sorry for them, I know I'd be humilated and quit.

    As a note, i know i wouldn't last long at that place. Having bad Blepharitus i can only wear a light foundation, no mascara regularly and no eyeliner at all.

  4. Tweedisgood - wasn't the impression I was under from some of the press about the incident, sorry. However, this article says female staff were issued a memo by the firm which is full of demands, such as "always wear a heel".



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