War Paint Reconsidered

It seems that whenever I take a firm stance on something, I come across other articles and blogs that sway me and make me question my position.  For example, since writing War Paint, I’ve come across a number of articles supporting the  notion of women going makeupless.   I support those women who feel empowered by it, and I wish I could be one of them, but I fear the risk is too great (for the reasons I cited previously).  However, I think it’s important to look into the makeupless trend anyway and ponder it a bit.  I came across this article entitled, “Why I Won’t Wear Makeup Again…Ever,” which can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/why-i-wont-wear-makeup-ag_b_5591235.html.  I find it interesting that the author wore makeup while working her way “up the ladder” and only when she got to the top (as CEO) did she stop wearing makeup.  Would she have had the same result if she decided to stop wearing makeup while she was working her way up the ladder?  Based on other studies, I fear the answer to that question may quite possibly have been no, but I also fear that we may never know.  Wearing makeup seems to be so indoctrinated in in the minds of young girls that I don’t know if there will be a true revolution of all working women going barefaced into the workforce.  However, there certainly have been some recent attempts.  There’s the rise of the barefaced selfie and celebrities posting photos of their “natural” faces, whether with minimal makeup or none at all – of course, most people would probably deem such celebrities “successful,” akin to having already climbed to the top of the corporate ladder.  And sure, plenty of working women do go to work without makeup, but how many women CEOs and partners at law firms and public figures are going makeupless on the regular?  This is my struggle – I find it so silly yet so critical.

I’ve already given up wearing heels regularly (as in every day – yes, I did that for a couple of years even through a knee injury). And at only five feet, sometimes I wonder whether I’m also risking my career development  by embracing my natural height.  I dare you to google “do taller people make more money” and you’ll see… the vertically challenged are screwed financially relative to their taller counterparts.  At the same time, I’m not going to kill myself to conform my entire being into what is socially more desirable and more promotable, but I do give in from time to time (i.e. a couple times a week).   I keep two pairs of heels stashed under my desk at all times.    And I have to disclose, I’m not one of those 5 inch heel wearers… because if the heels are too big, well, then it’s simply “too sexy” for work and people start to think you’re just a sex object with no other potential.  It’s a fine line and a time-consuming line to walk sometimes.  Maybe I’m over-analyzing my work appearance, but from what various studies seem to suggest about appearance, and from experience, image seems to be incredibly important in the workforce.

Would I dare experiment wearing flats and no makeup at the same time to my job for an extended period of time?  I don’t know.  It’s tempting.   My colleagues and my supervisors are very happy with my work.  Would they really care what I look like?  In my former job at a law firm, I once went to work wearing just mascara and concealer.  My boss told me I looked sick and tired.  (Thanks).  I didn’t really think I looked that bad, but I never did that again!  So, I commend the women who are posting their barefaced selfies and wearing little to zero makeup when they are out and about.  Maybe as I get older and wiser I will care less, or maybe when I make my way up the ladder, I too will go makeupless.  But I wish I could be a better role model now, and though I claim to choose to wear makeup and heels as a tool to advance my career, I know I’m also giving in to what many would consider to be sexist and stereotypical social expectations.   I’m conforming in my own way, but I’m far from done figuring out how to reconcile what science tells me I should look like and who I really am.


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