Unless you happen to be Erin Brockovich, most of us are expected to dress a certain way at work. And whether that means wearing a suit every day or a midriff-bearing Hooters tee, we accept that most employers have dress codes. These policies usually pertain only to clothing and not makeup, because most of us inherently know that the gold glitter eyeshadow we so proudly wore last Saturday night probably won't receive as many compliments in the Wednesday staff meeting. But American Apparel apparently thinks neither fashion nor beauty should be left up to interpretation.
The company set off yet another firestorm yesterday (seriously, when is this company ever not steeped in controversy?) when emails allegedly outlining their employee grooming policies were leaked to media outlets including Gawker and New York Magazine. And if you believe these emails are real and intend to apply for a job at American Apparel, you better plan on an extreme makeover (or rather, makeunder). Among the many, many guidelines outlined in the emails, female staffers are advised not to wear the following:
- eyeliner of any kind
- clumpy mascara (and yes, it actually says "clumpy")
- mascara that doesn't complement your natural skin and hair color
- shimmery blush
- liquid foundation (concealer gets the ok so long as its super blended in—if there's even a hint of caking, they're coming after you)
- shiny lip gloss
And it doesn't stop there. The alleged email goes on to state that female employees may not overpluck their eyebrows, have bangs, dye their hair (I'm scared to think about how they check this, if you know what I mean) or "excessively" blow-dry their hair (I'm not kidding). It's all part of what the email cites as the company's "natural beauty" aesthetic. Hey, I'm all for embracing your natural beauty, but I can't remember the last time a lip gloss made a person appear unrecognizable.
Whether these emails are legit or not is up for debate, but American Apparel responded with a statement on their website declaring that the company "does not hire or retain applicants based on 'beauty,'" but that they do seek out people with a certain sense of style. However, the statement doesn't deny that these emails were sent out to employees—in fact, it doesn't address the emails directly at all.
Considering American Apparel's history of pushing the public's buttons, the whole thing could just be one big publicity stunt. But nonetheless, it raises an interesting debate: Do you think employers have the right to dictate strict makeup and hair guidelines? If we accept that we have to dress a certain way at work, should we accept that we also have to follow certain makeup rules? Tell us your thoughts on the matter.
PHOTO FROM GIORGIO ARMANI COSMETICS