I have been reading a lot of interesting articles lately that support the proposition that the more powerful and visible women become in the work force, the more demanding their make-up and fashion routine becomes. Sort of a, "in exchange for viewing you as competent, you must be extra beautiful, too," situation. There are many, many sex discrimination cases on the books in which women were fired for being too old or ugly, or because they were not feminine enough. Very often, the employer's decision to fire the woman was upheld, with the suggestion that beauty was an actual job requirement for women in the work place. On the other hand, many sexual harassment cases were dismissed because the woman was dressed too femininely, and thus was "asking for it." Today, those cases are thankfully more rare, but the pressure to be beautiful and feminine (but not too feminine and sexy) in the work place rages on, fueled incessantly by the cosmetic and fashion industry.
Other interesting articles have chronicled the rise of the make-up industry. Before 1920, make-up was referred to as "paint" and was associated only with the theater and prostitution. Respectable women did not paint their faces. But then, as women entered the workforce, the cosmetics industry was created and the term "paint" was changed to "make-up" (making up for what, one has to wonder). The pressure to never go out without make-up intensified on the newly liberated woman. A professional woman suddenly had to be "put-together" in ways men did not have to be.
So I am trying a mini-social experiment on myself. I am not wearing make-up this week. Not a stitch. I want to find out whether I wear make-up because I want to, or if I wear it because there are social pressures on me to wear it and so I only think I want to in order to conform with expectations of what being a woman means.
I'll let you know if I come across any interesting revelations as I face the world without my cheeks artificially flushed.