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Dear Lola,

I am a young female college student who is preparing to enter the workforce. During my mock interviews, one of the common pieces of feedback is that I need to wear makeup. My attire is appropriate, my hair is never mentioned, even my answers to interview questions are given great marks. Yet each mock interviewer has said my lack of makeup can be viewed as unprofessional. I find it absolutely distasteful that I’m expected to slap on a face of paint in order to showcase myself as a competent worker. Even worse is that I’m entering a very male-dominated industry and all of the interviews have been conducted by men. Am I just going to be seen as eye-candy or can I go without makeup and be taken seriously?

Manager NOT Mistress

Advice for humans. They need all the help they can get.

Dear Manager NOT Mistress,

Just when I think I’ve read it all, I get a letter like this. I really wish you had mentioned how old these interviewers were, but I’m guessing they are at least 10 years out of college if they’re appointed with helping students hone their interview skills. To be honest, I’m really hoping they are in their mid-fifties or older because then I could write it off as a generational difference of opinion in how ‘professional’ women should present themselves.

That makes their suggestions disappointing, but not completely abhorrent.

Either way, I think you need to approach the school system that has arranged these mock interviews and have a discussion with them about the people you’ve been paired with for guidance. Women have more to offer the workplace than their looks and it sounds like you are presenting them with an equitable package to your male counterparts. Your attire is professional, your hair is tidy, and your face has skin on it.

If the interviewers want to see makeup so badly, they should apply it to themselves each morning.

In all reality I am sure many readers would disagree and say that to get a job you have to play the game. That’s for you to decide. Maybe, just maybe, not playing the game will lead you to a job where the boss doesn’t care about your blush choice and instead values your work ethic. Just make sure to show up with skin on your face.


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