If a society focuses way more on form and not so much in the substance, a new question arises: Can women be professionally successful without makeup? The question itself seems quite dumb on the surface, but the implications of this situation are rather significant for an important part of the population. On one side, some women claim that makeup makes you look more professional, more formal and represents a woman who takes good care of herself, thus representing a good dedicated worker too. They say it’s partly a matter of confidence too, about feeling good with your own appearance that doesn’t have anything to do with “looking better to get to higher places or obtaining certain benefits”. On the other hand, another group of women states that wearing makeup should not be an obligation at all in order to look professional and show that you are a good worker because you do that by actually doing your work and making the best of your skills. These women also say that it’s ok if you want to use makeup in order to look good and feel nice about yourself, but that it shouldn’t become an obsession having to wear makeup everywhere in order to be and to look like someone respectable. As both parties present serious argument, the debate sparks a lot of controversy about the way we understand our modern civilization: are looks becoming a necessity in a world that needs much deeper values to evolve?
Ideas to consider for later:
- Can the way someone looks actually indicate if someone is good the for the job?
- What does it say to you if a woman is not wearing any makeup in a job interview?
- Is society really obsessed with looks or does this just reveal one aspect of our personality?
- Even if today’s standards are based on measuring abilities, do you really believe looks don’t matter at all?
- Why is this such a controversial topic in the first place? Isn’t it actually a little superficial? Why or why not?
Useful vocab to use:
|Makeup||The favourable termination of a performance that brings favourable benefits.|
|Success||Superficial, lacking depth or seriousness.|
|Professional disadvantage||The act becoming excessively filled with information or input about the same topic after some time.|
|Saturation||To raise, intensify, magnify or improve something.|
|Empowering||The standing, practice or methods of a professional as distinguished from an amateur.|
|Perception||Something that gives you power, authority, an ability or an advantage.|
|Shallow||A cosmetic, as a cream or liquid, used as a base for facial makeup.|
|Professionalism||Cosmetics, especially for the face or some part of it.|
|Foundation||The faculty of understanding something through the senses and logical thinking.|
|To enhance||Something that puts one in an unfavourable position in a work setting or environment.|
Video for discussion and comprehension
The video below comes from a UK television programme called This Morning, the 2-hour long show usually airs during the weekend before midday. They appeal to people who are staying at home and include tips for cooking, makeup, fashion, and advice on products. It’s a magazine-like show. In the segment below, two women (with opposite views) are discussing with the Presenters where or not women should need to wear makeup if they want to be successful. The topic is interesting as it crosses the idea or feminity Vs feminism and that of how people are constantly judging women on their appearance. What’s your opinion?
Video comprehension questions:
- What does using make show in a professional, according to Rebecca?
- Is Shona wearing any makeup during the interview?
- According to Shona, are there occasions in which it is ok to wear makeup?
- Who said: “It would be great if it became fashionable NOT to wear makeup”?
- According to Charlotte, What does Makeup represent for women?
- How old are Shona’s daughters?
- Would Rebecca hire someone without makeup? Why?
- According to Shona, what would she focus in during a meeting with a woman who is not wearing any makeup?
- Which institutions made the studies discussed in the interview?
- Which artist announced publicly that she was not going to wear makeup anymore?
Potential debating topics for use in class:
- No one should wear any kind of makeup to work at all, that way everyone would be judged merely on their abilities and professional merits. No exceptions.
- Young girls shouldn’t be allowed to wear any makeup until they become 18, in order to avoid any kind of social pressures. After they turn 18, they will be allowed to wear anything they want.
- Makeup is indeed a powerful weapon especially for women who are “less beautiful”, so they can compete with those who are naturally beautiful in a professional setting.
- So what if some women use makeup to get benefits at work? The working environment is a constant competition, so the use of any means necessary should be accepted.
- Young girls should adapt to how the real world is from very early, so they should be told that they are expected to wear makeup to get to places in the working environment. It might not be the ideal, but it is how the world works: shouldn’t we be preparing them for that?
- This is a pointless debate: Women have been working for the last 50 years in order to have the same rights as men; of course they don’t have to wear any makeup in order to get the same benefits as men! It’s obvious!
- What if women just want to wear makeup at work in order to feel and look nice and people are just misinterpreting this as a means to escalate positions in the corporate ladder?
- If a woman is having a difficult time in her life, having to take care of a large family depending solely on her income and she believes that wearing makeup will allow her to reach higher places and get better benefits for her family, can you really judge her?
- This debate is just an outcry of ugly women: if they are actually that good and professional, why do they worry so much about the women who are wearing makeup?
- Is there no middle ground in this debate? Can you think of a reasonable position that could balance both sides as best as possible?
It’s up to you now
Working women have gone through a lot in order to have equal rights at the workplace, should this discussion split them? The controversy is up for grabs, but reaching a reasonable middle point of view that works for everyone is certainly the healthiest thing to do. If women want to wear makeup they should do it because they want it, not because they have to do it. Nevertheless, the fact that they wear makeup shouldn’t be automatically considered as a desire to get a boost in the professional field, but who can establish such a fine difference in a topic that is moved by so many subjective opinions and impressions?