do I have to wear concealer, should I edit the job posting when applying, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Do I have to wear concealer to the office?

I (they/them) am an early/mid-career professional who used to work in nonprofit. I recently switched into the luxury beauty industry, and I have a question about my appearance.

In my previous organizations, there were various degrees of casualness. I didn’t dress up much and didn’t wear much makeup. In my new company, I’ve had a number of peers comment on my skin. It is subtle, but it’s suggestions on hiding or covering eye bags or acne marks. I don’t like wearing makeup because it doesn’t feel good, is expensive and time-consuming, and makes me feel like I’m conforming to traditional beauty norms (for women) that I don’t want to conform to.

I don’t wear makeup now, but my colleagues, regardless of their department, are well dressed and appearance-oriented regardless of gender. Will it negatively impact my career if I don’t put on concealer every time I go into the office?

There are some industries that put a high value on having an especially polished and put-together appearance, which often includes covering blemishes or dark circles, and the luxury beauty industry is probably one of them. That doesn’t mean you have to comply if you don’t want to, but sometimes if you’re in those fields and out of step with that aspect of the culture, it can hold you back. That doesn’t mean it definitely will, but it’s a possibility. Sometimes, too, it can raise the bar for the rest of your performance (meaning that if you’re out of sync with the culture on makeup and grooming, you might need to be extra good at your job to neutralize the impact). Sometimes you can combat that by leaning into other aspects of your appearance, like ensuring that your clothes are particularly snazzy and well-fitting. Sometimes not.

It’s worth paying a lot of attention to the culture around this stuff or running it by a more experienced colleague if there’s someone whose judgment you trust — not because you necessarily need to comply (that’s up to you) but so you understand whether you’re bucking expectations and, if you are, what the ramifications of that might be … again not because you necessarily need to change what you’re doing, but so you can make informed choices for yourself.

2. Should I submit edits to the job posting when applying?

I am applying for an editorial position in a communications office at a large organization, and the job description emphasizes copyediting and proofreading as significant duties. The job description is also, frankly, in dire need of those very things itself. At some point in the application process (if all goes well), I’ll probably be asked for writing and copyediting samples. I have plenty of those ready for submission. But I have this itch to do a pass on the job description — a professional edit that would clean up some typos, tighten some clunky and repetitive sentences, and highlight an inconsistency to ask for clarification.

I’m 99% sure that this would be seen as snarky or insulting and that I should not do it. I don’t even know if someone in the communications office actually wrote it; it could have come from HR. But the devil on my shoulder keeps suggesting that it might make me stand out and offer a real-life example of how I would work with the material they produce. Maybe they’d think it was funny! What do you think?

Don’t do it. Some offices might appreciate the demonstration of your skills, but plenty would be annoyed by it, both because there’s inherent criticism in doing it and because part of being an effective editor is knowing when to edit and when not to. Standing out is good, but standing out by potentially annoying people is not! Instead, stand out by being a highly qualified candidate and giving a great interview.

3. Can I ask for more salary to make up for bad benefits?

I’ve come across a job that I’d really like and I managed to get an interview set up. Prior to the interview they sent over their benefits package (I really love this new trend, by the way).

But their benefits … well, they suck. Two weeks of vacation a year until you reach 15 years(!?). Their health insurance premiums are much more than my current insurance, and it’s also a high deductible plan so my healthcare costs will shoot through the roof.

My pay range is very close to the top, if not at the top, of what I can expect to receive for salary in my field. And I had already sent over my salary expectations before we set up the interview. How do I ask for even more salary than I’m already asking for, solely to cover their bad benefits? I would still consider the job but an annual $5,000 deductible is really going to eat into my take home pay.

The managers interviewing me aren’t deciding the benefits, it is with a Fortune 100 company with 100,000 employees. How could I politely say something like “I want the job but dang, your HR team seems to hate their employees. I would now need more money than I said originally.”

“I had a chance to look at your benefits info; thanks for sending it over. The vacation time and health insurance premiums are both significant steps down from where I am now. Are you open to increasing the salary? If there’s no flexibility on the vacation, I’d be looking for something in the $X range.”

You can say that at this stage if you want to (and if you know you wouldn’t consider the job if they won’t budge, it might save you both time if you talk about it now) or you can wait to get an offer and raise it then.

Read an update to this letter here

4. I wasn’t invited to an important work party

I work at a large, well-known organization. Every year, the organization in my city throws a big party that correlates with a weekend full of events in the city. It’s an industry party where clients and contractors and celebrities attend but also one that a good majority of the employees get invited to, other than the behind the scenes and younger employees.

I’ve worked here for several years and have moved my way up the ladder to a fairly prominent mid-tier position where I do a lot behind the scenes but also work with important people on big projects. Yet again, the invites to this party went out and I did not get one.

Am I wrong to feel like this is unjust? I’m weighing reaching out to the organizers or my supervisors but don’t want to come across as making a big deal out of just a work party. After the pandemic, I’d really appreciate the opportunity to socialize with my colleagues and our clients and contractors so i was really hoping I would be included this year — especially with my promotions over the last few years — but can’t help but feel looked over or rejected and wishing to say something to express that.

I can’t tell if it was unjust without knowing more about who gets included and why and how your job fits into that. But that’s not a particularly useful framing, and it sets you up to feel screwed over when there could be a more understandable explanation (including that it might have simply been an oversight). So when talking to your boss, instead of focusing on feeling hurt, why not instead just ask if it’s possible to be included next year? You could say, “I was hoping to be invited to the gala this year. How do we decide which roles go and which don’t, and is it possible for me to attend next time?”

5. Am I fighting a losing battle?

After being stuck at a very dysfunctional organization for a few years, I finally managed to find another job. The new job seemed like a great fit. The organization is better aligned with my educational background, and the job was a big bump up in title, pay, and benefits. I was being hired to fix some process issues they are having that I have experience fixing in the past. I had a few concerns about the organization. I’ve had bad luck working for small organizations, and this one has only 13 employees like the last place I was at. It also seemed like the amount of work being expected was excessive given the expected hours, and there was high turnover in the role. But I addressed both questions during the interview process. They seemed like they really understood their turnover issue and were taking steps to address it and said they were open to hiring more staff for the department I would be taking over.

I’ve been in the position for about two months, and I’ve come to the realization that they have 100% misjudged where their issues are. They are trying to function with a matrix organizational structure … but they don’t seem to understand what that means. They’ve interpreted that as, “There’s no top down. Everyone has a coach, and takes direction from multiple project managers. But there are no supervisors, and all decisions are collaborative.” In theory I report to the executive director … but she’s cancelled at least four bilateral meetings with me in the last two months. I’ve been informed by other staff that the ED’s favorite catch phrase is “we’re building the plane as we fly it.” I have been laughed at for suggesting some very basic project management processes to get our projects delivered on time. The ED is unwilling to enforce the use of any processes I suggest. She was unwilling to enforce attendance at diversity and reconciliation training being run by another new staff member, even though reconciliation is central to our organization’s work. And they tried having time sheets last year to make their project accounting better, but were unable to get any of the staff to fill them out! So there’s no official record of what hours were worked on which projects. There is almost no organized project planning, and there are no consequences for work being late, and yet everyone I’ve talked to at the org says they’re working 50-60 hrs weeks. (It’s not an industry where that would be normal or expected.)

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between ramping my job search back up and trying to get out, or knuckling down and really making a concerted effort to address the issues. Am I fighting a losing battle, or is there something I can actually do to help this organization?

Losing battle. They’re a mess and they don’t want to change. Get out!

{ 553 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    LW #1 isn’t asking for tips on makeup or skin care so please refrain from offering more of those! If they want those, there are lots of places they can find them, but I don’t believe they’re looking for them here. Thank you.

    Updated to add: The LW added more details in a comment here.

  2. LMB*

    I’m genuinely curious how a person who doesn’t like make up (like me) ends up in the beauty industry, what they do there, etc!

    1. MK*

      The OP speaks of an office, so I am guessing her role isn’t related with the product or services. The beauty industry needs accountants as much as any other.

      1. Fran Fine*

        True, but it’s still an interesting choice since both the beauty and fashion industries are widely known to be inherently image focused so if that’s not your bag, what’s the draw? You can be an accountant someplace else that doesn’t care about this stuff.

        1. louvella*

          I mean, I used to work in the truck stop interview and I didn’t have any interest in trucks. I don’t even have a driver’s license.

          1. Fran Fine*

            I get that – my point is, these are two industries that have reputations for being not so great to work in at the best of times because of the hyper focus on looks. Like the OP who originally posted saying they’re genuinely interested in learning about what OP does in luxury beauty and what originally drew them to it as someone not remotely interested in appearances, so am I. That is all.

            1. TransmascJourno*

              Could be a simple case of moving from a nonprofit environment to a corporate environment.

            2. Allonge*

              Sometimes people don’t consider the industry culture as much as the specific job and they are surprised by things like this.

              Or they may not have a lot of choices locally or have some other limitation that this job works with.

              Or it could be that there is a specific answer to your question!

            3. JSPA*

              One can be very interested in appearances / presentation and still find makeup unpleasant.

              Adding, that if it’s been part of one’s gendered upbringing, makeup can accumulate a lot of extra baggage.

              Adding, that the mere act of using makeup can shift other people’s gender perception of you in a direction. If one enjoys mixing up contrasting gender presentations, that could be welcome! But if one is somewhere in the middle, or entirely outside the binary, or striving for ambiguity (but not comfortable with mixing-and-matching strong masc and strong femme signifiers) then makeup can make everything trickier. (Especially as what would otherwise be a strong masculine signifier can instead read ultra-feminine, if you add lipstick.)

              Adding that, people who are having “thoughts” or anxieties about someone’s gender presentation have been known to use, “you’d look so much better with makeup!” to mean, “I would never misgender you in so many words, but I’d nevertheless feel less stressed if you could please use makeup to better conform to my sense of how the gender spectrum works.”

              Adding that, just as women can be mightly judge-y about other women’s makeup choices, and just as people who are racially in the minority have been known to invoke “holding the race up vs letting the race down”…non-binary, agender, gender queer, bigender, omnigender (etc) folks are not 100% immune to “you’re not doing it right / making us look bad” thinking.

              Adding that, I’d love it if makeup firms never, ever based their strategy and market share on making people feel bad about their natural faces, bodies, and senses of style (and didn’t attract workers who’re OK with that sort of corporate negging). I’d also love a pet pocket-sized pegasus.

              1. Fran Fine*

                Adding that, I’d love it if makeup firms never, ever based their strategy and market share on making people feel bad about their natural faces, bodies, and senses of style (and didn’t attract workers who’re OK with that sort of corporate negging).

                I would love this as well and there are more brands out there that are moving in that direction, which is nice to see.

                1. The Peach*

                  There are brands/products that represent a major shift out there–simpler, less fussy, sometimes even aimed at men and NBs as well as women. While I fully support anyone wearing or not wearing makeup as they choose, if OP feels that she must conform to her new company’s culture in this way, I would encourage her to seek out some of the newer brands and products (Ogee, BOOM, Jones Road, etc) designed for a lower-maintenance look that nonetheless is polished and put-together. Drugstore brands have come along too! If the full foundation/concealer/mascara/eyeliner/blush/highlighter/lip pencil/lipstick thing is not your bag–and it’s not mine either–you might adopt, say, tinted moisturizer, a little powder, a subtle eyeshadow stick and tinted lip balm for a look that won’t take five minutes, can be sourced at any price point, and might pass muster at work without feeling like a thick fake mask.

              2. alienor*

                Adding, that if it’s been part of one’s gendered upbringing, makeup can accumulate a lot of extra baggage.

                That’s true, but if someone had ethical/political/personal objections to makeup, it seems like they would avoid the industry altogether, as opposed to something they just weren’t that interested in. For example, I’m a nearly lifelong vegetarian, and it wouldn’t make sense for me to take a job with a chicken processor, even if I worked in its corporate headquarters and never came into contact with any chickens. But I could work for a company that made circuit boards or house paint or gourmet pickled onions, even though I don’t really care about any of those things, because they aren’t emotionally charged for me.

                1. JSPA*

                  To clarify, I meant, “make up on one’s own face” / “feelings about being expected to wear makeup oneself.”

                  Plenty of people like [x] on other people (or are neutral to positive about [x] for others) without feeling right in [x] themselves (for any value of x).

                  The analogy might be someone who is vegetarian because of random health issue, who has no problem working for a meat packer.

                2. DataSci*

                  I don’t think that’s what JSPA is saying, at all.

                  I am cis female with a somewhat androgynous gender presentation – I literally cannot remember the last time I wore a skirt, other than one awful time I had to be a bridesmaid, and have never worn makeup. I do not want to wear makeup or skirts, it would trigger all my “this is what a girl should look like / do” upbringing, and the only way I could possibly do so would be to frame it as drag. But I don’t have some sort of moral or philosophical objection to makeup in general, for people of any gender! I would just never in a million years work somewhere in the beauty or fashion industry because I know that in those cases I would be expected to be more gender-conforming than I am comfortable with.

                3. Nanani*

                  Nah, you can work with and for a car company without having a license. Its not magically different with makeup.
                  Reminds of the people who take “no thanks I’m not drinking” as “WHY ARE YOU JUDGING ME” instead of the no thank you it actually is.

              3. Minimal Pear*

                Yeah, I love fashion and makeup! However, with my skin type, I have yet to find foundation that really works, or concelear that works on its own without foundation. I wear eye makeup, and lipstick when not in a pandemic, and I dress up, but no skin makeup for me.

              4. TransmascJourno*

                I love this comment. And I, too, would love a pocket-sized pegasus. (Or a pet tardigrade; I’m not picky.)

            4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              One of my friends ended up in IT at a big name, Met Gala type fashion designer despite having no interest in fashion, nearly complete indifference to clothes, and couldn’t name 3 designers for love or money. They took the job because the pay was fantastic, the job was interesting and innovative (it had something to do with doing virtual fittings, remote real-time alterations for bespoke clothes, and other stuff that went over my head), the benefits were awesome, and they could work anywhere the company had clients. They’ve been there for a couple of years now and really like it. Folks take jobs in industries they don’t like or fit in with for a whole host of reasons.

            5. Jasnah*

              this seems dangerously close to victim blaming. Whatever industry someone works in they shouldn’t have to deal with peers making unwanted comments about their body.
              If this is common in the industry the industry needs to change, not the employee.

          2. Regular Lurker*

            Luxury beauty isn’t really comparable to working at a truck stop. I get that a lot of people here evidently aren’t into it, but (much like high fashion, the art world or the entertainment business) luxe beauty is a pretty competitive, “dream job” sort of field for many people. It’s not generally a “oh well nothing else has come along so I guess I’ll take a job at this YSL place” situation – I assume OP is working in IT or accounts or something where interest in the products is less important, but it’s still pretty inevitable that you’ll be surrounded by people who do care about this stuff a lot and it will form a big part of the office culture and conversation. So yeah, it does strike me as a bit odd to go into that field, even in a support role, without anticipating a degree of image-consciousness.

            1. Turanga Leela*

              This was my reaction as well. Honestly, if by “luxury beauty” OP means a makeup company, there’s probably an unspoken expectation that OP wear not just makeup in general, but that company’s own products.

              1. Sasha*

                Yep – several years ago my husband’s media agency was consulting for A Famous Trainer Company, and they all had to go out and buy a pair of Company branded trainers to wear to client meetings – and they didn’t even work directly for Company!

                Direct employees who happened to prefer Adidas or whatever would definitely not have flown. The clients apparently wore branded stuff to all the meetings – not head to toe, but at least one item daily.

            2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

              But as was said, for accountants, IT people, etc. (and I’ve been both), its a job. The company might find someone with a passion for the industry, but they shouldn’t get hired if there are other candidates that are just far better developers/accountants/attorneys/supply chain specialist/manufacturing engineers etc. I don’t care if the full stack developer I hire knows one designer from another if they are a good full stack developer. I mean, ideally you find someone who is both passionate about your product as well as their role, but that doesn’t always happen.

              I’ve known a few people in the beauty industry – and none of them were characters from The Devil Wears Prada in terms of their drive to be in the industry….or perhaps all of them were Andy’s who continued to wear their knockoff blue sweater and not care that it was actually cerulean. What they wanted was a job.

            3. quill*

              It’s going to really depend on what position in the company, though. Luxe beauty is probably very competitive in design, sales, maybe even formulation, but IT? Accounting? Probably not that different from anywhere else aside from the coworker’s additional scrutiny of your face.

              1. Regular Lurker*

                “I assume OP is working in IT or accounts or something where interest in the products is less important, but it’s still pretty inevitable that you’ll be surrounded by people who do care about this stuff a lot and it will form a big part of the office culture and conversation.”

                1. quill*

                  TBH I’ve been a lab tech or lab adjacent at so many places that maybe I’m not a good judge of if office small talk is generally about the industry itself, but I would assume makeup as conversation would come up less than, say, people’s weekend plans, in some technical office within a makeup company.

                  I think the last time I had a casual conversation about a product I worked with that wasn’t related to job duties it was because a coworker and I decided that a glob of sample looked like a star trek alien.

          3. A*

            Sure, and I agree that this *shouldn’t*be an expectation – but in several subsect of the CPG industry, it is. Cosmetics and fashion are at the top of that list. It’s in part because a lot of people in those industries gravitate towards working with brands they actively enjoy as consumers, and in part because of the assumption that use of the products = supporting the brand + the only way to truly be familiar with them.

            My first CPG industry job was with a product type I couldn’t relate to and I ended up in a similar situation as OP. I ended up deciding to move to a different industry subsect in part because of that, but even more so because I realized that in order to feel personally fulfilled by my work I needed to e involved with products I genuinely enjoy. I now only work for brands of products I was an already an active consumer of, and it’s helped bring a new layer of satisfaction to my career. Not to say that is necessarily true for OP, it’s a personal choice, but I do agree with Alison that unfortunately this is something that could potentially hold them back. Might not be an issue for OP, but worth noting.

            Last time I job hunted, I literally just walked through my apartment looking at different brands I use and generated a list that way. Depending on the type of function they are in (I’m assuming it’s on the business ops side) there are also opportunities to cold apply – my current job I got by just sending in my resume to the HR dept unrelated to any job postings. They were willing to create a job for me not just because of my skillsets, but because they specifically want to attract/retain people that truly love the brand. Food for thought!

        2. Melody*

          I kinda felt that way at first, but if they’re an accountant and this place has good pay and benefits – why wouldn’t they want to work there whether they enjoy luxury beauty products or not?

          Or, for example, I’m a graphic designer. For years I worked for a magazine for a religious community I’m not a part of! It didn’t matter, I like designing and the pay was good.

          1. quill*

            Exactly. Businesses that don’t expect someone to be in it “for the mission” or because they’re devoted to the product in their personal life tend to have functioning relationships with their employees.

        3. missy*

          From the “everytime I go into the office” statement, I assume this is a remote job (or else it would be “do I have to wear concealer everyday”). So, someone switching from non-profit to corporate and looking for a mostly remote job, and maybe interviewing remotely, might not have realized how this is a part of the culture.

          And it may not have been part of the culture with the people they work with directly and only comes into play when they have to go into the office, when they are interacting with other departments. Like, it they work in IT with other IT people who don’t care about makeup. And then they end up having to go to the office to swap out someone’s laptop and that person is in product development, and immediately starts mentioning that the company has a great product for dark circles. Culture clash. Maybe even in the office these types of conversations are considered normal, and even helpful (because it is seen as less about “your face is bad” and more of “sharing information on a product or development”). Within IT it might be more normal to say something like “oh, there’s a program that will help you do X faster” whereas saying that to someone else might make them feel insulted (because they think you are judging their work).

          OR, maybe everyone in the office is being a jerk. It’s hard to know!

        4. Birb*

          I’ve designed and marketed jewelry and accessories for a large niche wholesaler despite not ever wearing jewelry and not AT ALL wearing the style of clothing / accessories we made and sold. This is absolutely not unusual, especially in any type of marketing or e-commerce position that isn’t public facing.

      2. Nanani*

        This. Every industry needs accountants and HR and copy editors and so on.

        LW1 is 100% correct to not want to wear makeup for the reasons stated, and it’s shitty that they are expected to do so even unofficially.

    2. Aphrodite*

      Ditto. Plus, I’d be interested in how your interviews went. Was everyone on the hiring committee dressed and made up to the hilt? Were there any verbal or nonverbal hints that were given to you at that time about clothes and make up? (Thank goodness higher education doesn’t care one whit about that stuff.)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I would imagine, given the timing, OP interviewed remotely. Most people don’t have a camera good enough to show minor blemishes, or even to make it obvious whether a person is wearing makeup or not.

        “Has a face; is wearing suitable clothing at least down to the waist.”

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I would really like to read a story about the one job candidate whose interviewers discovered, when the zoom cameras came on, that they *didn’t* have a face.

            1. quill*

              All the lonely people, why are they all on zoom?
              All the lonely people, where do they all belong?

    3. emmelemm*

      Yeah, I am a “no makeup, very little polish” person… so I would never consider applying to work at a beauty brand or anything similar, in any capacity.

      1. Snow Globe*

        +1 – first thing I thought of when reading the letter was The Devil Wears Prada.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Same. I hate makeup and it does unpardonable things to my skin. I’d never even apply to a beauty brand, even in a behind-the-scenes job.

      3. Trawna*

        I love fashion and design, get compliments on the street, and I stayed well away from the industry. A couple of early career exploratory meetings made it quite clear it would be the wrong choice for dreamy, kind-hearted moi.

      4. alienor*

        I wear makeup pretty regularly, and I still wouldn’t work at a beauty brand. There’s a gigantic difference between me putting on some lipstick and concealer before I go out for the day, and the Instagram influencer level of makeup a beauty brand would expect. I don’t want to commit to doing that on a daily basis for years, plus I’m middle-aged and no amount of makeup would make me fit in with all the 25-year-olds that probably work at these companies.

        1. Kay*

          I really don’t think a beauty brand would necessarily require instagram ready makeup for accountants though.

          I applied for a software dev position at Peleton. I naively thought everyone there would be super in shape and hip like the instructors. That couldn’t have been further from the truth lol. The devs were normal sloppy devs like me. :D

          So I wouldn’t hesitate to apply for a back office position at a beauty brand necessarily … I guess it depends …

          1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

            That is interesting behind the scenes intel! I would also have expected a certain level of presentation there.

          2. Gothic Bee*

            I worked at J.Crew for a while in a phones/email customer service position. There was an expectation you be familiar with their clothes, but loads of people who worked there weren’t into wearing their clothes and were normal levels of sloppy (me!!). And definitely none of the warehouse workers or IT people were dressing up daily. I think there were higher expectations surrounding appearance at the retail stores and for sure a lot of the higher ups in the customer service departments were more in line with their image, but it would be really limiting to expect that every big company only hire people who fit their image for EVERY position, including IT or accountants or whatever. It’s true that smaller companies probably do that kind of thing, but once you get to a certain size, I just don’t think it’s realistic.

        2. quill*

          Also I think influencers and Buzzfeed have deeply warped people’s expectations of what an “everyday” amount of makeup is. Pretty sure my mother, now in her 50’s, spent her entire professional life not knowing what foundation was outside of when I personally needed some for stage makeup. For a while when I was in high school, before there was really much social media, eyeshadow and lipstick at the same time was fancy unless you were at a dance competition, in a play, at prom, or something. People certainly weren’t contouring their faces every day!

          I like having a life outside of work, so… anything that takes more than 3 minutes is special occasion makeup and hair.

        3. cookie monster*

          I am a computer programmer who interviewed for a beauty brand and people were dressed nicely but not amazingly. I didn’t get the feeling that I would be expected to dress up like a fashion or make up model at all, but my coworkers would be dressed better than at like a tech firm.

      5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I can see someone being surprised that that is the standard for the IT department or the accountants, though.

      6. lilsheba*

        Same here, I hate makeup, it feels awful and it’s too much time and money. SO on that note NO you do not need to wear concealer or makeup. If you don’t like it don’t do it, and if others don’t like it it too bad. Too much emphasis is placed on women (or anyone female leaning or presenting) having a “face” only when they have makeup on and it needs to stop.

      7. Hillary*

        I interviewed with a fairly high end beauty brand for a middle management operations role – the standards appeared normal for a manufacturer. There’s a limit to how polished you can be in safety shoes and a high vis vest. It was a specialist job that was drawing from the same pool of people as every other similar role in our area. The pay, on the other hand, was 40% below market, and we didn’t even get to benefits. Product discounts can’t make up for that.

    4. Loulou*

      This didn’t seem strange to me, since all kinds of people work in the corporate offices of companies they don’t have a particular interest in. But I thought it was SO weird that many people have commented on OP’s skin?? Like, even one would be pretty weird! I can’t imagine commenting on a coworker’s complexion like that unless, idk, they were bleeding a bit and didn’t realize it.

      OP, how do these comments come up? Are people just approaching you and saying “you’ve got a big pimple, try some concealer?” Or is it in the context of discussing a specific product you sell? I realize there are cultural differences around commenting on people’s appearance, so perhaps this seems more normal to you than it does to me.

      1. Fran Fine*

        But I thought it was SO weird that many people have commented on OP’s skin?? Like, even one would be pretty weird! I can’t imagine commenting on a coworker’s complexion like that unless, idk, they were bleeding a bit and didn’t realize it.

        This. This is rude as hell regardless of what industry you’re in.

        1. The OTHER Other.*

          I agree, but it seems to fit with the luxury beauty industry. Maybe their specific job has nothing to do with the products or customers (accounting, or IT) but still, it seems likely such a company would attract people very into makeup and emphasis on appearance.

          1. TransmascJourno*

            But the OP was hired without this being an issue. This doesn’t seem like feedback from a higher-up on professional presentation. Instead, it seems like inappropriate commentary from coworkers with no bearing on anything related to their actual job.

            1. MusicWithRocksIn*

              This stuff can be self perpetuating though. When you start someone comes up to you and says you need more makeup – to someone young in the workforce that could make a big impact and they start to wear more makeup, and talk about makeup at work, and just assume that is how you talk to coworkers, thinking that telling them their makeup game is poor that day is like letting someone know their skirt is tucked into their underwear. You see and hear other people acting like this so you keep doing it. If a couple people are doing it it will just encourage other people to think that it’s normal. When everyone around you is drinking the cool aid it can be hard to tell what’s weird and you get sucked in.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            I dunno, in my experience most people don’t have the luxury of seeking out jobs that particularly align with their interests. I used to work for a car manufacturer. I don’t own a car, I don’t particularly like cars, I actually think there should be less cars in the world for multiple reasons. But that job was available when I was looking for one, I don’t find cars full-on morally objectionable, and a girl’s gotta eat. Most of my colleagues weren’t super into cars either (more than me, probably, but that’s true of most people).

            1. Liz T*

              But in my experience, in interviews they often want you to care about what the company does.

              1. Anonym*

                Eh, sometimes, but it’s far from universal. I’ve worked a few different jobs in finance, but not on the banking side, and it’s never come up. They wanted to know I was interested in the job, not the industry, including when I moved over from a wildly unrelated industry.

                Depends on so many factors: the role, the company, and especially the interviewers. I would also not be looking for a passion for finance if I were hiring right now, but instead a driving interest in communication and employee engagement.

              2. Emmy Noether*

                Often you can get away with talking about how the work is going to be interesting and sidestep the product. Caring about the work is different from caring about the end product of the company that one may not even work on directly.

              3. BethDH*

                There are also other ways of caring about what the company does. They might really care that the company doesn’t test on animals, or maybe they really like hair care, or the luxury market generally.

              4. Melody*

                I’ve found that as long as you’re passionate about what you’ll be doing for the company, you don’t have to care about the end product that much.

                I create ads for many industries. I’m in a marketing firm now, but when I did in-house work people would ask if I was passionate about finances or farming or what-have-you and I would say, “I’m passionate about great design” and that was always well received.

                And that’s still the right answer now that I work for a firm. I don’t care about boats or insurance or packaging systems – and I don’t have to in order to make a good ad. Neither does an accountant to balance the books or HR in order to write checks and enforce training standards.

              5. Covered in Bees*

                Also, I assumed that acne marks meant acne scars. In which case there are some treatments that *might* lessen their appearance, but that’s about it.

              6. quill*

                Really depends on what aspect of the job you’re interviewing for. If you’re in sales, product development? Yes, absolutely.

                If you’re in the basement crunching data or compliance testing widgets? Fixing their computers? Doing accounts? They care much less about your commitment to Widgetcorp brand widgets, and more about your commitment to your actual job duties. You can have a passion for food safe dishware while finding teapots with fairies painted on them ludicrously dull and kitschy and working at Tea Fairy incorporated.

            2. Threeve*

              I think there’s a difference between being uninterested in your company’s industry and being visibly uninterested.

              1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

                Well, that’s making an assumption on a couple levels. Not using something yourself doesn’t mean you’re not interested in it. I don’t wear makeup because I have very sensitive eyes and don’t like the way some of it feels. I can admire people who do beautiful makeup, though. There are a lot of reasons not to like makeup that make it sort of problematic to make it a standard, also, such as gender nonconformity or neurodivergence (which is why I generally can’t wear lipstick). Even my sensitive eyes are partly age-related.

                1. MK*

                  True. I am obsessed with youtuve channels about dressmaking and vintage/historical clothing, even though I can’t sew a loose button and my personal style is firmly boring. If I was looking for a job and there was a position for an in-house lawyer at, say, a company that makes reproduction retro clothes, I would love it, even though I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a 50s-style dress in public.

              2. JSPA*

                “I don’t wear makeup” and “I think makeup is uninteresting or pointless” are two very different statements.

                For decades, men didn’t wear makeup (or didn’t admit to it, if they did). During those same decades, I’m willing to bet that the top management at most makeup companies skewed male.

                OP could well have thought that as someone who identifies as they/them, they were opting out of the “wearing it myself” presumption…only to find that all genders there wore at least some concealer.

              3. DataSci*

                There’s also a difference between being uninterested in your company’s industry and the culture perpetuated by your company’s industry being actively hostile to you.

              4. Nanani*

                How so? And how can you even see that when it’s an industry like food or entertainment as opposed to fashion and beauty?

                You don’t know what kind of TV someone has in their living room so you can’t know that the person at the store has a different brand than what they’re selling. Why a double standard?

            3. Gothic Bee*

              This exactly. Especially if you live in an area where options are limited. I do not like the place I work for their ethics and they very much don’t align with my interests, but it’s a good work environment and I have good coworkers and I don’t hate coming to work every day, so for the time being I work here and hope to find something better in my field eventually.

        2. GythaOgden*

          I get dry skin and tbh I appreciate the occasional heads up. The time someone approached me with a product in hand it was because she thought it looked actually sore.

          This is not to say constant comments wouldn’t be downright rude (my mother drives me round the bend about it, particularly because she’s stuck in the 80s as regards what she thinks is professional, and she fatshames the life out of me), but I’m not always the most put together person and I do appreciate sincere tips.

          1. BethDH*

            Yeah, I feel like the tests are whether OP feels like it is directed at them individually vs something that people in general like sharing and talking about in their office.
            When I worked in something AV adjacent, it seemed like everyone but me loved movies and spent a lot of time and money on their home theater systems, even though we weren’t in consumer electronics. That is not personal in the same way as makeup and general body stuff can be, but I still felt like it was a shameful secret that my TV was a hand me down and I didn’t have any “real” speakers because we were supposed to Know and Value audio quality.
            I will add that OP doesn’t have to just listen to it even if it is appropriate/untargeted. They can say they prefer to talk about other things, or redirect to related areas that don’t bring up the same conformation-pressure issues (skin care as self-care and cancer prevention seems much less gendered than even things like acne treatment where women still feel more pressure to be effortlessly blemish free, for example).

          2. biobotb*

            Your example seems different, though. The person who pressed a product on you was apparently doing it because she thought you were physically uncomfortable, not so much because she thought you weren’t meeting certain appearance norms. It’s not like covering acne marks (or active acne) with concealer actually relieves pain or anything.

      2. matcha123*

        I assumed that talking about skin (and skin care related products) was probably part of the culture at their workplace.

        I don’t work in fashion or any industry that places weight on beauty because I definitely don’t conform to those standards. I get the urge to show I can thrive in such a place, but I don’t know. This seems like an industry where even people in the back are expected to conform to a certain appearance.
        I also felt the same way about makeup when I first test wore it. I rarely wear foundation, only eye and brows, even then it’s very light. However, I do wear sun screen and I find that both feel pretty similar. I will wear makeup with foundation for interviews or big events, however.

        OP should take time to think about the culture of this office so far. They may be inclusive in other areas, but it doesn’t sound like bare-faced is one of them.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I pictured it as people dropping hints (either helpfully or judgmentally) that LW is out of touch with the office norms around… skin, I guess. Like they’re trying to send the message “Company expects us to wear makeup every day/Boss hates pimples” or whatever but they’re being too “gentle” and indirect about it.

        1. Blue Glass*

          There’s nothing gentle or indirect about pointing out that someone has eye bags and acne. I can’t imagine saying this to a coworker.

          And that a number of her coworkers have done so tells me she’s not conforming to the industry standard. She doesn’t have to, of course, but I would be surprised if this didn’t affect her promotion opportunities.

          And just because higher-ups aren’t making these suggestions to her doesn’t mean that they’re not paying attention to what might be considered a big no-no in this industry.

          1. RagingADHD*

            If they were saying it indirectly, the LW’s description would be a translation or interpretation.

            It could have been something like, “Oh, are you okay? You look tired.”

            and then when LW says they’re fine, the other person says, “You know, I love the way (product) brightens up my undereye bags.”

            The indirectness is what makes it passive aggressive.

      4. Nelliebelle1197*

        If it is a high end skincare company where the entire image of the company is clear, perfect skin or a dermatologist’s office that specializes in acne, resurfacing or other procedures, I get it. Honestly, if I were bringing a kid in for teen acne cures at a doctor’s office, I would be concerned if the staff did not seem to follow the doctor’s methods. Or if I was a skincare buyer at Large Retail Box, I would wonder if I should stock the product if the employees in the meetings don’t meet a certain level of polish.

        It is an unconscious bias and I think it super easy to say it should not or would not matter and call our better angels forward, but it is just not how people work.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          Your last line sounds like, since people have unconscious bias, we shouldn’t try to push back against it, and I can’t agree with that. There are ways to lessen unconscious bias, and allowing people to be seen is one of them.

          1. BuildMeUp*

            I agree in general, but it is also up to the OP to decide whether they feel comfortable doing that at work, where they depend on their paycheck. It is a decision they have to make for themselves.

        2. rubble*

          I would never work for someone who was also my doctor! that’s too personal. I would rethink that particular expectation tbh.

        3. quill*

          Honestly if the acne needs medical intervention and a random nurse has normal, not problematic acne… as a teen I think I might be more comfortable with the message that “yeah, most people will occasionally get pimples, even as adults, we’re going to try and bring your acne down to a normal level that isn’t damaging your skin,” than with the unrealistic idea that this doctor’s cures will make sure you have perfect skin forever, and being frustrated when that’s inevitably untrue.

    5. Beth*

      Plenty of people end up in industries unrelated to their personal interests! It’s a little more surprising when it’s something like theater or fashion or art (where there are enough people passionate about that thing to make roles competitive), but if being personally interested in engaging with the field outside of work was a standard requirement, I bet there would be far fewer tax preparers or bank tellers in the world. OP probably has a skill set that was needed in this office, and took the role because the job was a good fit rather than because they’re really passionate about the industry.

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        I work in Medical insurance — I doubt there are more than a handful of folks here who specifically set out to find a c areer in this field because the subject fascinated them.

    6. June*

      Wondering this as well. I would assume that in any role I took that I would have to comply with their beauty standard norm.

      1. Allonge*

        That is fair as far as it goes but if I am expected to wear makeup, I would like to be told about it at the latest at the interview; preferably in the job ad. If I were, say, an IT person, I would not guess that I will be criticised for not having concealer on when I am fixing people’s computers. If I apply to a representative job, sure.

      2. Anonym*

        You never (well, unless it’s explicitly stated) *have* to; it’s a question of what the cost of non-conformity is in the particular environment, role and circumstance you’re in. Sounds like OP is hoping to suss out exactly what the price tag is, and whether it’s too expensive for them.

        I budget for my eccentricities in the work environment. Having started a new job recently, I assume my budget is small, but as people come to know and like me and my work, the budget will increase as I build social capital. So for now it’s funky shoes, but I’m building up to more significant pushback on management in the long run.

        1. Adultier+Adult*

          I am a teacher- there are no “rules” of “you must wear our school colors every Friday— but you can be confident that I have spent plenty of money on gold and black attire– it is a part of the culture :)

      3. Sylvan*

        I wouldn’t assume that in marketing, graphic design, accounting, customer service…

      4. Covered in Bees*

        It doesn’t seem like this is OPs first job in this field, so I could see the confusion. I also think that OP being non binary as part of the issue because I have noticed many people dividing others into the categories of cis male and then everyone else. Therefore, OP gets placed in the latter category and therefore expected to wear makeup. The upper levels of cosmetics companies have long been dominated by men who were not expected to be walking billboards for the company products.

        1. missy*

          I do wonder if this is changing. The last few times I’ve been to Ulta in my town (a college town with lots of 20-somethings) it is about 40% male shoppers and staff. I don’t know if the pandemic made people more self-conscious (seeing their own face on zoom) or if youtube beauty culture has just meant that more guys are getting into it!

    7. OutofOffice*

      In addition to all of the comments on “a job is a job and people need jobs” (which are legit!), luxury beauty can mean all sorts of things! Maybe the company is focused solely on hair care, or perfume, or body wash/lotion, or nails – those are all things LW could hypothetically be super passionate about while still not enjoying makeup, and not expecting there to be any focus on it at the office.

      1. Fran Fine*

        That’s a good point that the company may not even be in the makeup space, which would also explain why OP was taken aback by the comments on the skin.

    8. Clean Face At a Cosmetics Company*

      I spent more than 11 years at a personal care products company aka “cosmetics and makeup” and I well kinda hate makeup. Always have, I hate the feel of it on my skin and honestly I have no talent for application. Poorly applied makeup is worse than no makeup. Now this was a hippie dippy brand – but even most luxury brands have a “natural” or sustainable component. You can go align with the sustainable component. Although you may be out of the culture norm, own it. Try out and use the cosmetics if you like and don’t bother with the color cosmetics. Occasionally let the R&D folks n marketing folks play – if you want. I’ve watched many make up is not my thing people succeed. If you are marketing the product you need to try the product – that doesn’t mean wear makeup daily. Make sure you have a consistent personal brand, are consistently clean and put together. I tended to sporty professional and occasionally added in a great handbag. Keeping up with the work in a competitive industry requiring constant innovation and reinvention will be what matters. Just maybe pay attention and know when beauty editors, influencers, content creators, etc. are going to be in the office and step up you look as needed.

    9. Professional Merchandiser*

      Yeah, I used to work for a company where I did makeup resets. One of my coworkers didn’t wear makeup (which was fine, her choice.) However, when customers would ask us questions about our products, she would inform them in a very very snippy manner, “I don’t WEAR makeup!!” I always wondered why she was working with makeup if she couldn’t be bothered to learn something about it.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Talking to customers about *anything* in a snippy manner should be a career dissipation move.

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          I totally agree. I don’t know why she wasn’t fired. If she didn’t know all she had to do was refer them to another one of her teammates. Even the men on our team learned to answer questions or ask one of us to.

    10. iliketoknit*

      I feel like this question is more getting at my reaction to the letter, which was a little bit of, “why are you surprised that a luxury beauty company is filled with people who expect you to wear makeup?” (I realize that comes across as unkind and I don’t mean it that way, people’s reactions are what they are and they’re entitled to have them, and if your job doesn’t have anything to do with the product directly I suppose it could be surprising.)

    11. Nephron*

      I have a science and regulatory background and there are a number of jobs in cosmetic and beauty products. You have R & D with chemists and biologists, and they need to submit to FDA in the United States and other agencies elsewhere. They would also need to follow human subjects research laws, and possibly animal testing laws. All of those are very specialized, but don’t require graduate degrees in many cases.
      If you look at what L’Oreal has posted on LinkedIn you see regulatory and science jobs a lot.

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        I applied to a bunch of entry level IT jobs at L’Oreal when I was younger. Sadly I never made it to an interview, but in the last years they became an interesting place for newer grads.

      2. quill*

        Yeah, that’s a field I could apply in and personally? If I’m dealing with chemical safety data sheets for foundation formulations, the expectation that I should WEAR the foundation because I happen to have boobs would be pretty sexist. 100% those perceived as cis men at this company aren’t being told they need concealer.

        Also there could easily be jobs, even at a beauty company, where wearing makeup is actually a big no while on the job – I’ve been in plenty of labs where, for example, powder makeup was not to be worn because it’s a greater contamination risk for the experiments, or where you 100% could not wear long nails, painted nails, or fake nails because there was so much work with acetone.

    12. Spicy Tuna*

      I’m a vegetarian but I had an interview at Burger King corporate. I work in finance, so the role had nothing to do with their product specifically, and I really needed a job. It didn’t work out, but a job’s a job!

    13. Wisteria*

      The CEO of Zappo’s owned only a handful of shoes. Sometimes it’s not about being passionate about one aspect, like shoes or beauty, but about having passion for another aspect, like customer service (for Tony Hseih) or the specific function that you support.

    14. quill*

      I mean, probably many of the same things I’ve done in various pharmaceutical industries, despite not really being a chemist or knowing much about pharma: regulatory compliance, data crunching, drawing up testing plans… for all we know, LW1 is an accountant.

    15. LittleMarshmallow*

      The chemist in me would love to come up with new colors and skin care formulas for makeup even though I don’t wear it.

      I don’t work in cosmetics but it could be interesting!

    16. LarryFromOregon*

      Many dozens of comments about whether employees SHOULD be expected to demonstrate commitment to, and engagement with, the lifestyle aligned with the employer’s products and services.

      HOWEVER, the key distinction is what the workplace culture is. Some meat packing companies expect their IT and accounting teams to speak constantly about barbecues, steak houses, and smoking their own meat—others employ many vegetarians and vegans. Best to know which is which before you accept the job!

  3. MK*

    #4, have other employees on your level been invited? How about the people on your team? I would start thinking about that before talking to your boss; “I would like to go” isn’t really saying much. If you know the guest list, try to take an objective look at it and see if it would make sense for you to be there from the company’s point of view. And maybe tweak Alison’s wording a bit “The event sounds a great chance to make professional connections, I would like to attend at some point. Do you think that’s something that will happen? How is the guest list decided?”

    1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I like your version better because it puts more emphasis on the professional side of the things (namely networking) and less middle-school ‘but I want to go to the cool kids’ party, toooo!’ ;)
      Also, maybe the organisers have kept things even more restricted than in other years because we still actually are in a pandemic. Not that I have much hope for this but isn’t it nice to dream…

      1. Super Duper*

        Agreed! Check out the guest list, and go from there. I also thought LW’s framing in the letter was good:

        After the pandemic, I’d really appreciate the opportunity to socialize with my colleagues and our clients and contractors so I was really hoping I would be included this year.

        It focuses on the professional benefits of attendance, not feeling left out or just wanting to attend a cool party, (which is legitimate but not a convincing argument for your boss).

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      I also think this is a much more useful framing than “it’s unjust!”. Sure, it can be galling when people who are less accomplished and/or make arguably less critical contributions to the success of the company get the opportunity and the OP doesn’t. But the selection is almost certainly not made on the basis of who’s most deserving, but from whose participation the company expects most returns.

      I used to work in a technical role post-sales. The pre-sales engineers got to go to a lot more glamorous outings! And we post-sales professional services people felt technically superior and at least equally deserving. We were the ones who rescued customer relationships by solving thorny problems that the pre-sales guys (all guys, with fancy English educations…) had overlooked, or even created by selling custom projects with design flaws! But … pre-sales is about developing new business and upselling. So that’s why they got to go and we didn’t. (And TBH, I didn’t want their job anyway.)

    3. Dust Bunny*

      This. I can think of a lot of events to which my supervisors would be invited that my same-level colleagues and I would not. Whether or not I’d like to go is irrelevant–they’re usually networking-type get-togethers that aren’t relevant to my job.

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Your point is really important. If all the llama whisperers are invited and LW isn’t would be a much different conversation than if no llama groomers are invited at all or only people who reach Super Senior Special Groomer level.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Yes, and is this truly an “invitation only” event or is there a ticket price? My non-profit org did an annual big gala pre-pandemic and if an employee wasn’t actively working the event — ie. registration table, photographer, setting up tables … — they had to pay for their ticket. I’m sure there were a few VERY important people that maybe got a pass on paying, but mid-level would definitely be invited…to pay.

  4. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Ok, LW#1, you don’t need to wear concealer, but, doing some snazzy skin care could accomplish the same thing. There are under-eye “masks” that reduce puffiness, for example. I don’t have all the names,but, for instance, just last Saturday I used a hemp-infused sheet mask that removed a whole lotof red from my complexion and helped the texture a shocking amount considering how short a time it was on. Look into things like that first.

    I’m femme presenting and hate wearing makeup. But, skin care.

    /My 2 cents

    1. Fran Fine*

      You’re spot on. Early in my professional career (before I got into makeup), I never wore makeup because I didn’t know how to apply it myself and trying to find a shade match in a foundation or tinted moisturizer was a disaster. I also have sensitive, acne-prone skin, so I have to be careful what I put on my face.

      That said, when I made the effort to invest in my skin and trying to clear up my scarring, my face looked radiant and I always got compliments on how pretty I looked with absolutely nothing but SPF 30 and chapstick on. I also dressed very well (still do) and kept my hair neatly styled in a flattering, face-framing way, so that helped to balance out the makeup free look.

      If OP can afford it, investing in nice at-home acids (the lactic and mandelic acids from The Ordinary are two of my staples) and the occasional facial may help to get the comments to stop. A moisturizing sunscreen with hyaluronic acid can also help to give you a natural glow, OP, that has nothing to do with looking femme. Your acne and possible scars won’t fade overnight, but this is a good start and even with the scars, the brightening effect of these products will make people not really notice them.

      1. Beth*

        I’ve definitely found that finding a skincare routine that works for me is easier than finding a truly color matched concealer/foundation! The Ordinary is a blessing–their caffeine serum basically fixed what I thought were permanent dark circles in under a week.

        But I don’t think that necessarily addresses OP’s particular concerns. They talk about the entire pressure to conform to a specific beauty norm feeling gendered in an unwelcome way. And they’re not wrong! While men can and do engage in skincare and even makeup, the social pressure to use products to meet conventional beauty norms (and the assumption that you must need unsolicited help/advice if you’re failing to do so) mostly falls on people perceived as women. This goes double when the ‘issues’ we’re talking about–occasional eye bags, occasional acne marks–are common and minor things which probably wouldn’t even attract attention on a man.

        It might be that this specific job in this specific industry forces them to choose between giving into that pressure vs being seen as less-than-professionally-groomed. And like Alison says, they should make that choice in an informed way–practically speaking, it might be that it makes sense to give in. But even if they decide that they have to do some skincare and/or makeup, it would still be legit for them to feel upset about being held to these gendered beauty norms.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Frankly, I would deeply hate being told that my alternative to wearing makeup every day in order to be accepted at work was to use skincare products every night. Especially since the best thing I’ve ever been taught about skin care came from an expert who explained that most skin care products are either essentially makeup (concealer, etc) or else designed to offset the effects of other skin care products. She told me to use nothing but plain water on my skin, not even soap, and it’s kept my skin healthy for fifteen years… but “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean “looks like an airbrushed magazine photo,” and I wouldn’t expect it to.

          I don’t even have the gender issue to add to the effect; I just really hate performative beauty obligations. I don’t think I could ever tolerate a job where they were part of the expectation. (I also don’t think that expectation should be legally permitted, any more than requiring candidates of a preferred gender is permitted, unless the nature of the work truly requires it, such as acting or modeling. But I don’t expect to win that fight anytime soon.)

          1. Anonym*

            Yeah, I see skincare routines as equally or even more burdensome than makeup (that said, I haven’t worn concealer since HS and can do my “work face” in about two minutes). It’s still this assumption that how your face looks is Very Important, and you must spend your time and money to Fix It Because It’s WRONG, and that’s BS that oppresses people, especially female-presenting people and anyone not automatically fitting the narrow, stupid, bigoted beauty standards we’re forced to deal with in this society. “Your Face/Body Is Not Okay” is not okay.

            So while I appreciate that it’s valuable and rewarding for some people, it’s NOT a less oppressive option.

          2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            Also, that stuff is expensive. Anyone remember The Beauty Myth, and the whole thing about women needing to invest extra time and money that men don’t?

            1. Bronze Medalist*

              I dispute that makeup must be expensive and time-consuming. Sure, if you don’t want to wear makeup, then don’t, but don’t give money and time as an excuse. There are great inexpensive makeup lines out there and it really doesn’t take more than a few minutes with a light hand.

              1. quill*

                However, they still take more money and time than *not* buying or using it. The issue is not “find what I can do cheaply and quickly” it’s “why is my natural face not considered professional enough because of my gender?”

          3. quill*

            Same. Men spend their entire professional lives not doing anything to their face beyond maybe shaving, maybe lotion, maybe sunscreen. Much of “Skin care!” is just gendered beauty standards wearing a hat, not actually improving the health of your skin, preventing damage, or making your face more comfortable.

            Friends, if it’s not a prescription, a sunscreen or a moisturizer, it’s for skin beauty, not skin health. There is nothing unhealthy about dark circles or blemishes – the spot under your eyes by your nose shows circles for a variety of reasons that include the skin there just being thinner and the shape of your eye sockets. Your random zit is your body removing particles, dead cells, or bacteria from a pore via an inflammatory response.

        2. Fran Fine*

          But even if they decide that they have to do some skincare and/or makeup, it would still be legit for them to feel upset about being held to these gendered beauty norms.

          I agree and never said otherwise.

      2. DataSci*

        Would you give this same advice to a cis man in the same situation?

        If not, think about whether you may be perpetuating exactly the gender-based expectations the LW is upset by, just at a lower level – you still want them to eliminate any sort of imperfections in their skin. Do you expect cis guys to have a “natural glow”?

        1. Nanani*

          Well said

          It’s not ok that looking pretty is an expectation on some people based on gender. It’s not better if you make it about skin care instead of applying cosmetics.

        2. Wisteria*

          I would. I would also expect that a fair number of men who work in the luxury beauty industry use make up and skin care products–maybe not at the same rate as the women, but more than outside of the beauty industry. I don’t expect anyone to have a natural glow, but I bet that a large percentage of people in the industry where OP works have that expectation of everyone. We are trying to solve a problem for OP in OP’s industry, not for every person in every industry.

          1. quill*

            I’m almost certain that there are men within this company, and possibly even within OP’s department, who are not expected to do anything to their face to make it visibly different. Which is the expectation being placed on OP – visibly change your face to conform to beauty norms that are gendered.

            1. JustaTech*

              This was actually something I thought the OP could do – ask the men/male presenting people in their office about what is expected of *them* as far as makeup/skin care.
              Who knows, maybe every single person in the office wears concealer (since that is one makeup thing that tends to be less gendered, since everyone can get zits/eye circles).

              If everyone, or almost everyone wears concealer/primer, well, that’s valuable data. If it’s only women/femme presenting people, well, that’s different data.

              1. pancakes*

                That is a lot of effort, and more importantly, could easily come off as an odd thing to do, particularly from a new employee no one has gotten to know well yet. It also wouldn’t establish that non-binary employees like the letter writer will be subject to the same expectations male employees are.

    2. matcha123*

      I second this.
      I had darkening under my eyes and acne/acne scarring across my face. I don’t think I ever thought my skin was horrible, but I didn’t like the dark circles under my eyes.
      I used some drugstore face washes and regular moisturizing to slowly clear up my skin and also started eating more fruits and drinking more water. A huge factor that helped with the circles was getting rid of a major stressor in my life.
      Of course it all depends on how OP feels about those areas. I didn’t like them, especially the parts under eyes.

      1. Covered in Bees*

        There are also some ethnicities who just get darkness around the eyes, regardless of sleep, eating, etc. Same with puffing under the eye. Sometimes the only thing that will change change it is surgery.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      I do sympathize with what you are saying, but I strongly suspect LW1 is the type of person for whom what you’re describing is exactly the type of involved grooming that they lump in with an hour of makeup and elaborate hair. I’m sure LW1 looks just fine, but for people whose grooming involves a shower, anti-perspirant, a hair elastic, and not much else? Even this is wayyyyy over the top.

      Not that LW couldn’t get used to this if they so chose, but it’s hard to bring this up as NBD. To people who are accustomed to doing only the very very basics, a sheet mask is a wild concept (“you want me to do WHAT with this slimy thing?”). To people who have any kind of routine, a sheet mask is pretty basic (“oh, just throw it on while you get ready for bed!”). I think LW1 is the first type.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I’m the first type, but it’s not that I don’t know what to do with those things. I just dislike them intensely, and don’t see any reason why I should have to use them. I groom as necessary in order to be clean and neat and not smell, have my hair out of my face, and maintain healthy hygiene. Anything beyond that is using my time, energy and money to make me look like somebody who is not me wants me to look. I don’t see why I should do that.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yes – I’m in the first category and it’s not that I’m unaware that skin products and beauty regimes exist, it’s that I have zero interest in having a skin care regime beyond soap and, when needed, sunscreen. In my case it’s compounded by a tendency to skin allergies, which I deal with by putting as little on my skin as possible.
          I also work in a field where the dressing standards are very casual, and you’re more likely to attract attention for wearing full makeup than not.
          What the OP needs to know is whether they’re expected to wear makeup to the office, and if they choose not to, what the consequences are. Then they can decide what they want to do.

          1. pancakes*

            I understand what you mean, but I have a feeling many people in the luxury beauty industry have different ideas about what’s “needed” to take good care of one’s skin than you and Working Hypothesis do – a belief that someone with visibly flaking skin “needs” a moisturizer of some kind, for example. I also suspect many people in the luxury beauty industry would take issue with Working Hypothesis’s framing that someone who uses grooming products along those lines — not just soap, water, and antiperspirant but products meant to improve skin condition and texture — would look like somebody else’s vision rather than an improved version of themself.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        I don’t know… I am well described (until ~1 month ago) by your “shower [every few days], anti-perspirant, hair elastic”. I haven’t worn makeup in 20 years. Skincare was bar soap in the evening and the the cheapest generic fragance-free lotion in the morning. I’m also queer, describe myself as a lesbian, and have my own take on gender – not quite non-binary, but I often give my pronouns as she/her/they/them. I’m also in a scientist in an environment where many women actively avoid makeup, or at least don’t look visibly made up.

        But I’m also in a second career, working on climbing ahead in a competitive field in a non-permanent job. I looked in the mirror recently, and the 15-20 years that I’m older than many of my peers are becoming visible in my face in ways that I am mildly struggling with (as in, I am seeing the features of my grandmother staring back at me, yikes). Bags and bumps that I wasn’t sure whether I should show a dermatologist…

        Alison’s request not to dispense makeup tips is well taken, and I don’t want to do this. My thrust is more along the lines, the OP may have alternatives to “just continue ahead” and start to use concealer and other make-up items that just feel alien. For example, I didn’t know about those lactic acid exfoliants (cheap and very effective!), what an effective moisturizer contains, how to get scars to fade, or that people wear SPF every day even when they don’t live in a sunny part of the world. Or that concealer doesn’t actually work on its own on the kind of skin I had…) I still only use makeup verrrry occasionally (though I’ve started to play with it a little bit on my own) and will never touch foundation or mascara. But I sure like sheet masks now. I also discovered that a NB co-worker’s wife runs a beauty salon in town! Not that I want to go, but I had to recalibrate my assessment – I had thought the coworker just had naturally a nice skin. Ha.

        The key outcome for the OP might be to have a good assessment of the landscape of options (including expectations) and where they actually sit in it – and to feel confident that they are making use of exactly those they want to avail themselves of.

        1. londonedit*

          I think this is really well said. Things like sun protection are important for everyone, regardless of gender, and making sure you have some sort of SPF on your face isn’t ‘faffing about with skincare stuff’ or doing anything gendered. My 70+ dad wears sunscreen and he’s definitely not generally a ‘moisturiser’ sort of person – it’s not about using make-up or gendered products, it’s about protecting your skin. The OP should at least consider using an SPF face product, even if they don’t live in a sunny place.

              1. Ferret*

                So you also think we should all be adding a load of advice about checking for lumps? And maybe health advice for other random conditions? And we should add this into every post on the site? Because since you are convinced that your advice has nothing to do with the question OP posed or contravene Alison’s specific request not to give skincare or makeup advice then clearly it is relevant to every letter

                1. londonedit*

                  Well, today was the day I learned people on the internet Have Feelings about sunscreen. Duly noted.

                2. Happy*

                  It’s not Having Feelings about sunscreen, londonedit. It’s Having Feelings about people who insist that everyone should find the same things important that they do.

                3. Anon all day*

                  Londonedit, I think you generally have really great comments on this site, which is why what now seems to be deliberate obtuseness is extra frustrating.

              2. Liz T*

                Most people wear daily facial sunscreen to prevent signs of aging, not cancer–to look younger, not to grow older.

                If you were sincerely scolding someone here about their health practices, that would also be wrong and out of place, but regardless I’m calling BS. Most office workers are fine without daily SPF. You’re better off avoiding the sun than blocking it with lotion, and office workers are doing just that. Tell people to wear a wide-brimmed hat if you’re worried about cancer.

                1. quill*

                  Yes. Cancer comes on with excessive sun exposure, unless you have very fair skin and can burn walking from your car to the office on a sunny day, you are highly unlikely to get skin cancer from leaving the house without sunscreen sometimes. Obtain advice on whether you medically need daily sunscreen from someone whose medical advice is not rooted in beauty standards: so a gp or someone else who is not in the business of medical solutions to looking good mixed in with the with medical solutions to avoiding cancer and mitigating painful or damaging skin conditions. Dermatologists can make a lot of money off “well, it won’t harm anyone and a lot of patients want their skin to look better, which this could do” types of recommendations.

                2. Liz T*

                  Thank you quill.

                  If they sell it in the aisles at RiteAid AND for $100/oz at the department store, it’s a beauty product, not a medical product.

                3. pancakes*

                  That may be what most people say, I don’t know and am not sure I’d agree, but it’s not what dermatologists say. Fwiw, my experience is that people who generally keep up with news about this sort of thing are aware that skin cancer prevention is the primary benefit.

                  “Skin experts unanimously agree that even the most minimalist of skin care routines calls for broad-spectrum UV protection of at least SPF 30 every single day. It’s recommended for cosmetic concerns like preventing dark spots, melasma, and photoaging, but more importantly, for the prevention of skin cancer—the fourth most common cause of death for adults between the ages of 24 and 29 . . .” That’s from an article in Harper’s Bazaar last September titled “Men Would Rather Die than Wear Sunscreen. Why?” That messaging has been pretty consistent for a while now.

                4. quill*

                  @Pancakes I am pretty sure that those recommendations are made based on the assumption that people’s skin actually interacts with sunlight for more than a dozen minutes a day. Which may not be true in an office job, or in a northern winter. If you’re going to be outside, use the sunscreen. If you’re spending all day in your windowless cube and only see the sun walking in from and out of the parking lot, it’s less of a concern. And of course we all have to balance our exposure to the sun vs. concerns we personally have with the components within sunscreen, which are not always absolutely neutral to your overall health.

                  The other confounding factors are how many people will stay out to deliberately get a tan, the people who obtain skin cancer from using tanning beds, and the strain of men who react with hostility to literally anything that could remotely be associated with the beauty industry. So yeah, TLDR: most of us should be wearing sunscreen more often than we think, but you don’t need to be terrified to step outside without it occasionally, especially if the UV index is low or you’re not going to be out from under a roof for very long.

                5. pancakes*

                  I live in the northeast and am very familiar with winters. I really hope people are getting more than a few minutes outdoors each day even if they have office jobs. In my city I easily did just walking to and from the subway stop, not to mention running errands on my lunch break.

                  My boyfriend has had several precancerous moles removed by his dermatologist, and the idea that they are primarily beauty doctors doesn’t sit well with me. Some of them do focus on things like starting their own luxury beauty brands, but it doesn’t follow that it would be good for people’s health to forget that skin is the human body’s biggest organ, and that looking after it isn’t always or only a matter of vanity. Skin cancer isn’t going to cooperate with that framing.

            1. socks*

              Sure, but it’s still a tone-deaf suggestion in response to someone who’s writing in because they’re tired of people commenting on their skin. (Also you don’t actually know if the LW wears sunscreen or not.) There’s a time and a place for health advice, and this wasn’t either.

              1. pancakes*

                I am trying to be thoughtful about where people are coming from on this, but I think a place where people are saying that any and all skincare besides washing with soap is overly-involved, and/or doesn’t have a place in a conversation about unwanted skincare talk at work (in the context of the luxury beauty industry), is a place where it’s fair and hopefully constructive to point out that for many people, the framing around products like sunscreen, various emollients, etc., has shifted. Certainly it’s fair place to point out that sunscreen isn’t strictly a beauty product, or that people don’t need to spend “excessive” time outdoors to benefit from it. The Skin Cancer Foundation and the FDA advise people to wear it daily, period, even when it’s cloudy. If people can’t, they can’t, but if they’ve avoided the topic for so long they don’t know the current consensus, they should be aware of that.

                To be clear, it’s definitely constructive for people to also talk about dysmorphia, sensory issues, and other reasons why they need to wind conversations like these down quickly at work.

      3. ecnaseener*

        This sounds more than a little insulting of ~those people~ who probably look “just fine” but see anything more than antiperspirant as elaborate. I get your overall point that a mask instead of makeup isn’t a helpful suggestion, and I agree (especially since there’s no way LW’s coworkers haven’t suggested that) but it sort of reads like you thought the principle of the thing isn’t enough reason, so you needed to imply LW isn’t Gifted With Skincare Skillz.

      4. Nanani*


        The money, the time, the know-how are not free to those who never wanted to participate in that sort of thing.

        It is quite likely that LW1s colleagues who are like “JUST do this” as a tip really think dabbign on concealer is a free action, but it’s not to someone who wears zero skin products, doesn’t own any, doesn’t have a preferred one or know what colour and composition they need, etc etc etc.

        When people say they don’t wear makeup, it doesn’t mean “I wear less makeup than you” it means they don’t. wear. cosmetic products.

    4. Batgirl*

      I love a bit of skin care, but it’s still work! The question remains does OP have to do extra work on her grooming or is the expectation unreasonable?

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I will add some more but different unsolicited advice. It doesn’t change much about you vs your work culture, but if you have dark circles–I feel like people use some terms interchangeably when they talk about undereye bags, so maybe you don’t have dark circle issues, but I feel like that is what the concealer would be for right? Anyway, if you have dark circles it’s possible you run a bit low on iron.

      I have had terrible dark circles all my life that I inherited from my mother. (Side anecdote, I thought they got worse when I moved into my new house before I realized the lighting in my new bathroom is just better and they have always been even worse than I knew lol). I only connected the dots when I watched a murder mystery and they said something about knowing the victim had anemia because of the dark circles under their eyes lol. I don’t have anemia, but I do frequently get turned away from blood drives for not having enough iron to donate. So I started taking iron supplements (well gummies, from “Vitamin Friends” because I’m basically a child I guess) and they did make a difference. And now I can give blood more often!

      So, I offer that not because I think you should have to put in more effort on your appearance if you don’t want to. But it might be something your body wants from you anyway so I figured I’d put it out there.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        (Not everyone should take iron supplements of course! But if you are like me and already knew you ran a bit low on iron but hadn’t thought about what other affects that might have on you it might be worth researching)

    6. cubone*

      Quoting the excellent Jessica DeFino on this, but “skin care” is not the same thing as skincare PRODUCTS.

    7. hbc*

      Maybe this is unfair, but I’ve never seen anyone set the bar for “but, skin care” at the same level for men and women. Unless you’ve recommended under-eye masks to male-presenting people because you were concerned about their skin health, this kind of helpfulness is part of the problem.

      1. biobotb*

        Yeah, male-presenting people definitely get away with a lot more sun damage, fine lines/wrinkles, obvious pores, etc. than people who others read as “female.”

    8. quill*

      I’d caution LW 1 not to try any new products right before a workday. Your skin could easily absolutely hate a product and actually look worse.

      A lot of “clean” or “minimal” products contain chemicals that can be skin sensitizers, whether they’re active ingredients to “clear your pores” or added to make the thing tingle so consumers are more sold on the idea that something is happening. Just like many products that are advertised as “clean” or “no heavy dyes or perfumes” still contain dyes or perfumes that people’s skin can hate.

      For safety with any product, 1) swatch on NOT YOUR FACE and 2) read the ingredients.

      … end of chemistry and sensitive skin rant.

    9. e271828*

      This kind of skin care stuff is all horribly time-consuming and it does very little long term to improve skin health or appearance. Often the products are even irritating. What does work: spend the money on a good dermatologist instead, who will screen for rosacea, eczema, demodex, etc., and treat anything that warrants intervention. Healthy skin is beautiful skin. And OP has a dermatologist who will catch any problems. So.

      OP is already perfect just as they are. Really, perfect.

  5. Rocky*

    Letter number 5, I was at a place like this for the second half of 2021. They hired me specifically to build their capability in a particular skill, but once I was in the job and suggesting improvements, I kept being told ‘Oh no, that’s not the [organisation] way!” There was no recording of decisions, because every decision was mutable and they wanted to leave space for senior leaders to change their minds. All this to say that I felt like a cat on a hot tin roof the whole time I was there and couldn’t wait to move on! If their culture isn’t ready for the structure and planning you can bring, there’s really nothing you can do. Good luck finding a new role – I’m sure there’s a place out there where your process improvements will be welcomed!

    1. Cuddleshark*

      I worked at a VERY small nonprofit where the team banded together to make a case to the board for the firing of the longtime, very toxic ED. We got a new ED who actually had experience in nonprofit work! And then, to my surprise… the “old guard” employees, who despite having been harassed, abused, and micromanaged for years by the old ED, were resistant to change. They dug their heels in because “this is the way it’s always been done.” It was quite shocking to me as a lowly communications peon. It’s been seven years since I left that job. Sometimes I wonder where things stand with them now.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      OP5 seems to me yet another case of someone being hired as a ‘change agent’, then not having the organisational backing to make that happen. In my experience that situation isn’t redeemable.

      1. Antilles*

        Agreed. It’s most notable in this case because it’s the Executive Director who’s standing in your way.
        If senior staff buys in but lower levels don’t, you can sometimes (but not always) still find a way to make it work with a combination of cajoling, discipline, reorganizations, and potentially replacing people.
        But if the senior leadership isn’t really buying in, it’s not happening.

        1. EPLawyer*

          The ED has to want to change to make this work. ED does not want to change. All you will do LW is beat your head against a wall. You will feel much better when you stop.

          Back to job searching. Good news, you can leave this place off your resume.

          1. Super Duper*

            Yes. It sucks, but better to cut your losses than to sink more time and energy into trying to change an organization that doesn’t want to change. Take your talents elsewhere, LW!

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      That’s the exact situation I found myself in when I started a new job 6 months ago. I spent 3 months crying because I thought I was doing a terrible job, 2 months crying because I was trying so hard and it still wasn’t working, and for the last month trying desperately to get out.

      This is my first management level job so I didn’t have the experience to recognize the institutional challenges I was facing, so it took things getting to a crisis point before I was able to step back and see what’s really been going on. It also helped my confidence when I went to an industry confidence and realized I *do* know what I’m doing and what I’m advocating for *is* best practice, and if the organization is unwilling to change I need to leave and find something where I can actually do the job I’ve been hired to do (and not spend all day taking verbal abuse from my staff).

  6. Gender is for other people*

    For OP#1, I’m nonbinary in a very similar industry where a very similar level of grooming is expected of most people. This has been really uncomfortable for me and especially as I become more “out” in the workplace, as I’m often read as a woman and I feel I am expected to perform an even higher level of grooming compared to people who are read as men. My relationship to makeup has also changed during my time in this particular industry too, I went from loving it to indifference/feeling like it’s just another necessary tool to cosplay professionalism even though it doesn’t represent “me.” I’m not sure if that’s useful to you but that’s currently my approach.

    While I can’t offer help for how to deal with the double standard, it’s worth looking around you at the people in similar positions/similar places in the hierarchy and seeing if you’re the odd one out.

    1. KateM*

      “Cosplaying professionalism” is how I’m going to think of dressing myself in those uncomfortable clothes from now on, thanks!

      1. Making up names is hard*

        Love that phrase! I’ve always thought of it as something in between armor and a costume, but cosplaying professionalism is perfect. About to start a new job and I think the cosplaying professionalism will be minimal. I’ll just be putting on my work “uniform” to get into the work mindset, but because I want to, not to fit in.

  7. hellohello*

    LW1, if you decide not wearing make up will hurt your career (which, given your industry, may well be a larger concern than it would be elsewhere), you might be able to make a lot of headway with a tinted spf moisturizer rather than a full makeup regiment. Sunscreen is important for everyone to wear, regardless of gender, which might help you feel less like you’re being forced into a gender presentation you don’t like, and a little bit of tint can go a long way in evening out skin tone if your concern is just deterring comments.

    1. Fran Fine*

      I second tinted moisturizer. That’s my go-to when I don’t feel like doing a full face of makeup. There are even tinted oils on the market that are less obvious than the moisturizers (thinking of one from Lilah B. that I love) OP can try.

    2. Tbs*

      Agreed. Or often I just wear a color correcting lotion that mellows out any major issues. Both often have versions with spf, so if you wear sunscreen daily it’s really no additional work!

    3. dogmom*

      +1 on the tinted moisturizer/sunscreen! A few years back I (she/her) was between jobs and spent four months working as a receptionist in a combo hair salon/beauty retail store. Literally on Day 1 I was shown an orientation video saying very specifically that not only did I need to wear makeup every day but definitely eyeliner and mascara. Idk why that was so specifically called out? I’ve spent the past 11 years either working from home or in an industry where yoga pants and no makeup are fine for the office, so I’m super lazy and hate doing my hair and makeup, so I was always the least “done-up” of everyone who worked there — it was tinted sunscreen, the eye makeup and that was it. I think everyone else in the store got the job bc they loved makeup, and I got it bc I needed to pay my car insurance! Anyway that whole “routine” took about five minutes, and bc I didn’t wear any of that stuff on days I wasn’t working it lasted forever.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “I think everyone else in the store got the job bc they loved makeup, and I got it bc I needed to pay my car insurance! ”

        I think this right here nails OP’s situation. OP, I took a job at a luxury place. I never thought about my clothes. And there were no visual cues on the interview that indicated to me I would need to dress really splashy. I took the job and time went on. Finally one day the owner came to me and basically said I needed to dress splashy. I indicated money was tight. He said he’d loan me money. Alarms when off in my head. I put everything I needed on my credit card. I bought several outfits on sale but totaling $500 (today this would be like $1500.) Then I got a perm. I cleaned up okay. The owner came into work and saw how I was dressed, he ran home to get a suit so he matched me. Everyone laughed at the owner.

        I was out of that job before I got the credit card paid off. The owner was super toxic and infected everything and everyone.

        My punchline: I had to take a hard look at myself, who I am and what I stand for. I am not a person who can work in the luxury arena of any kind. I don’t like perms, make-up and flashy clothes. The problem went out beyond that because I was surrounded by people who did. I couldn’t relate to the very people I was serving. I was doing a lot of elder care at home and my husband was hose clamping juice cans to the muffler of my car so we could make ends meet. Their lives were very different. And here’s the worst part, I did not see what I was doing for work as being of value. The issue about my appearance turned out to have nothing to do with my appearance and everything to do with who I am and where my life was actually at in real time.

        Just like many here are leaning toward advising you that you will probably have to cave and do at least some small things differently, I have to say that the “something different” might be a different arena. My expensive lesson on this one is that the arena matters.

        I took another crappy job with no forethought involved in order to get that credit card paid off. This was a nightmare that went on for a while. With this in mind, my suggestion is to start looking around now for similar work in a different arena, don’t wait until you are stuck like I did.

        1. pancakes*

          Your comment reminds me of the Thoreau quote about being “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” He could always take a job at the family pencil factory if he really needed one, though! We don’t all have something like that to fall back on.

    4. allathian*

      Masks and makeup don’t mix for me, like at all, so I stopped wearing makeup altogether during the worst of the pandemic (easy as I was WFH anyway) and haven’t returned to it. A big reason is that I’d have to buy so much new stuff, because makeup goes stale. I swear by my tinted SPF moisturizer, though.

      1. quill*

        Intellectually I know that makeup can spoil. Practically, the “when this current mascara runs out” mascara has been sitting in a cool, dark place for two years, sealed. I think I might have eyeshadow from high school dances hanging around… For as seldom and as little as I use the makeup, there really haven’t been safety or effectiveness issues.

        Whether or not this is a good idea depends a lot on the formulation of the makeup and whether it’s been hanging out sealed or open, though. Stuff that has parts that can evaporate, like a liquid lipstick, “stales” a lot faster than a solid format of the same stuff. And is more hospitable to germs.

        Also, before I start adding thing formulation facts everywhere… same on the wearing makeup when working from home. I did not have a useable mascara, the only thing I reliably wear, when I started a new in-office job, because I didn’t wear it even on my in office days at the last job, because the only people in the building were me, the notary, and the fedex guy.

  8. it's all part of compensation*


    This is why when I give info on what salary would be acceptable, I always, always include a variation on “but it will depend on the details of benefits.”

    I have very high medical expenses, and they can vary tremendously depending on the details of my health insurance. By tens of thousands of dollars. I have “good” health insurance, with “good” out of network benefits, and my medical expenses for last year not covered by insurance were around 25k, and that’s around a third of my pretax salary, before I ended up unemployed in a way I’m not allowed to talk about.

    However, it’s also important to be vague about the details of why you are considering the financial value of benefits, because most people don’t do this, and so I have to be careful about not revealing that I’m quite disabled, more than I can, anyway, because I have enough problems with discrimination during the hiring process. But laying out the cost of premiums and deductibles is usually pretty safe.

    1. The OTHER Other.*

      It’s great that the company was very up front about the benefits, but stinks that they are terrible. Why is a Fortune 100 company only allowing 2 weeks of vacation until 15 years of tenure? It sounds as though the health insurance is terrible also. Successful companies should share success with their employees and not spend it all on CEO bonuses.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Because that’s what they offered 40 years ago when people stayed with a company throughout their entire careers. They see no reason to change just because some whippersnappers don’t have loyalty to their employers anymore and want to move on to places with that new fangled concept “work life balance”

      2. AdequateArchaeologist*

        I worked at a fitness company as an admin and when they took me from temp to perm their benefits and insurance plans were worse than what my archaeologist husband had from his small-ish regional company. That said my husband’s benefits are absurdly nice for archaeology, but you’d think a nation-wide well known health and fitness company would have decent *health* benefits.

      3. 2 Cents*

        I really want to know which company this is. It feels like a bank to me, just because my father was in banking and he always had terrible vacation allotments.

        1. LW#3*

          LW3 here, I spoke to the recruiter more today and the 2 weeks of vacation is with an extra week they’re shut down for the holidays. Still not great, but it is what it is. The company is a household name, one that everyone would probably recognize. If it were in academia (it’s not) it would be similar to accepting a job at Harvard/Yale/Howard. That is how they’re able to get away with subpar benefits, people work there long enough for their resumes to be healthy and then they quit for greener pastures. Since I’m doing the exact same thing I can’t judge any potential coworkers.
          It also pays extremely well for a MCOL city. Which I know because they called me back today and offered me a position at 15k more a year than my current salary.
          It’s not finance related but close!

      4. Gothic Bee*

        Yeah, that’s bad. Even the place with the worst benefits I’ve had for a full time job at least let you start earning more than 2 weeks vacation at 5 years. And that place had decent health insurance.

        1. LW#3*

          LW#3 here, and it’s they clarified it’s 2 weeks of vacation, 2 weeks of “sick time/PTO” which does not rollover, and the week of the holidays paid off. Still pretty abysmal, especially for 15 years!

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I would just go ahead and ask for more vacation time instead of more money – the first time I’ve ever negotiated was due to vacation time and it went really well. So many places will only offer you one or two weeks to start with, but I’m just at a place in my career and family life where one week is insulting. I get that companies want to use it to build loyalty, but we aren’t living in a world of pensions anymore and if all a company can offer me for staying 15 years is three weeks of vacation time – I would rather just look around for someplace open minded enough to offer me four starting out. To a certain point I would take more vacation over a higher salary, and in this kind of market companies should be working to offer what people actually want.

      1. Cascadia*

        I dunno – the idea of offering low vacation time to build loyality? I don’t understand how that works. I’m going to be way more loyal to a job that has awesome vacation time. In fact, I currently have a really awesome vacation time setup and it definitely makes me second-guess moving jobs anytime I consider it – I know there’s no way I’ll get this kind of vacation at any other organization. Before this job, every job I worked with shitty vacation time I left in a year or less. So, if there is some sort of ‘strategic play’ in that, I don’t think its likely to work!

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          It’s not about the current vacation amount, it’s dangling a carrot of more vacation that takes forever to reach. Tenure and loyalty aren’t the same thing, but tenure can be interpreted as loyalty on paper.

    3. RB*

      Don’t you have an annual out-of-pocket maximum on your policy? I thought most had that. Mine is around $2,500.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        My company has about 600 employees in the USA and we offer two PPOs for health insurance.

        The annual out of pocket maximums range from $1,500 for an individual to $12K for a family, depending on in-network or out-of-network.

    4. LW#3*

      LW # 3 here, and dang that is a good line! I should have included that. I included a range of my salary plus $10k thinking they’d never meet that.

  9. TransmascJourno*

    I’m seeing comments for OP #1 cropping up about skin regiments as a way of circumventing the issue presented in the letter about makeup. Speaking as a nonbinary person myself (and as a person who is transmasculine and whose feelings range from “meh” to “anxiety-inducing dysphoria” about cosmetics in general, including skin care), I think it’s very possible that addressing the letter by way of skin care tips or less time-consuming makeup routines is misguided. It might also trigger dysphoria for the OP, considering they’ve stated that in their experience, makeup “doesn’t feel good, is expensive and time-consuming, and makes me feel like I’m conforming to traditional beauty norms (for women) that I don’t want to conform to.” Focusing on other ways to help the OP—like finding LGBTQ and trans communities online composed of people within their industry to talk to—would be a lot more beneficial.

      1. Gender is for other people*

        An example of why the “improve your skincare” comments are unhelpful –

        CW discussion of gender, skin health & appearance, and I only bring this up for demonstrative purposes, please skip if you already understand this –

        My skin is extremely good (I confuse skin therapists). I don’t have dark under eye circles or blemishes or much scarring. There’s nothing wrong with my face, and my skincare routine is as good as it gets, and there’s white privilege stuff on my side there too.

        None of this is enough for me to fit in, with a bare face, with the professional norms at my workplace, regardless of my gender presentation on any particular day. When I opt out of makeup, I really stand out. It’s unfortunate, but it is the culture of my workplace.

        1. Loulou*

          Congratulations on your skin, but this doesn’t sound at all like the OP’s situation? They did not ask about wearing lipstick or whatever, they asked about wearing concealer! To correct the appearance of skin problems, specifically acne and dark eye circles, that their coworkers have commented on.

          1. TransmascJourno*

            Gender is for other people stated in a comment above that they are nonbinary, work in a very similar niche industry as OP #1, and have experienced very similar situations as to what the OP described. What they’re saying holds water.

            1. Loulou*

              I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree! I think someone with great skin who stands out for not wearing visible makeup is not in a very similar situation to someone whose skin imperfections are being scrutinized at work (though obviously both situations have to do with gendered beauty standards). We can only speculate on whether OP would still be receiving unwelcome comments if their skin looked like Gender is for other people’s. That said, I agree with you and them that all the skincare advice here is misplaced.

          2. Hrodvitnir*

            The point that if you pretty perfectly fit the ideals around “good skin” it still won’t fix the issue is extremely relevant.

            Beyond which, skin routines more than “wash face, maybe with a product” are incredibly gendered, so are also highly likely to be a dysphoria trigger.

            1. quill*

              Yep. I am assuming here that coworkers are assuming that OP is a woman, at least subconsciously, because of the context that they probably would not, even in the beauty industry, be OFTEN telling OP to change their appearance, even if it’s wrapped up in their beliefs about what healthy skin is, if OP was being read as male. And there’s also a problem with somewhat queer-friendly spaces focused on women’s products or issues assuming that nonbinary is diet woman, now with less sugar and maybe suspenders but definitely still putting in major appearance effort.

              If it wasn’t OP’s undereye bags or occasional redness, it would be dressing “flatteringly.” Their pores. The expectations by the coworkers that OP put more effort into their appearance at work than these same coworkers would expect of a cis man.

          3. DataSci*

            No, they didn’t ask about wearing concealer.

            They asked about being told/expected to wear concealer when doing so is uncomfortable/dysphoric for them.

            1. Loulou*

              They literally asked “Will it negatively impact my career if I don’t put on concealer every time I go into the office?” I read the letter and understood that they are unable to wear concealer because of dysphoria, which presumably is why people are suggesting things that might accomplish the same thing as concealer (the appearance of perfect skin) without actually being makeup. I don’t think that kind of advice is appropriate in response to the letter, but that’s obviously where it’s coming from and I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate that if OP did have perfect skin, they’d still have X problem. Presumably there’s a reason they specifically asked about concealer and not makeup in general.

        2. Fran Fine*

          I think the reason the comments came up originally is because, unlike you, OP doesn’t have the best skin as was pointed out to them in a very rude way by coworkers (hence the question about whether wearing concealer is a must). If OP doesn’t want to wear concealer and also wants to stop these rude comments, posters were offering alternatives that could help shut that down (though just telling whoever comments negatively on OP’s skin to knock it off is also an option).

          1. TransmascJourno*

            The OP didn’t ask for tips on makeup or skincare stuff, though—the question about having to use concealer, as I read it, was more a matter of “do I have to comply to gendered beauty standards to be able to do my job?”

            To be honest, I’m really surprised to see comments with cosmetic routines as a go-to here, especially without any word of how inappropriate it is for coworkers to comment on a person’s (professional) appearance. It’s a niche industry centered on beauty, yes, but that’s still not okay.

            1. Fran Fine*

              especially without any word of how inappropriate it is for coworkers to comment on a person’s (professional) appearance.

              There actually were comments about this higher up in the thread. I was one of them that said OP’s coworkers are way out of line to be commenting on their actual face regardless of the industry they’re in. Unless OP’s job is as a model, which I strongly suspect they are not, then OP’s facial appearance at work should be irrelevant.

            2. Sylvan*

              OP’s being called “her” and told how to meet female beauty standards as if that’s not dysphoric. I’m not really surprised but I am kinda sad.

              1. Eyes Kiwami*

                Yep I am right there with you. The usual issue of people kinda skimming the letter just to give their own personal anecdotes about a small part of it, compounds with the gender issues here. People think they’re being helpful by saying “just do this 1 skin thing!” not realizing that that is exactly the problem that OP is facing at work and wants to stop…

          2. rubble*

            how do you know OP doesn’t have the best skin? eye bags are often genetic/natural, and acne marks are sometimesscars. they could have a brilliant skincare regime and never get rid of them.

            tbh you are doing the same thing as their coworkers, assuming their face needs “fixing”

            1. cubone*

              AND needs fixing to be more involved with our whitewashed standard of beauty, eg. your face can’t be too dark, needs to be even, fresh and glowy as if you have a 12hr sleep every day and don’t have anxiety or stress or live in a polluted world.

              No one is obligated to perform healthy skin to meet a crappy beauty standard.

        3. Gender is for other people*

          For Loulou and Fran Fine –
          As mentioned above, I’m nonbinary and was trying to demonstrate why comments about makeup are really unhelpful. Please re-read.

          1. Loulou*

            I did read your comment, which was actually about why the comments about *skincare* were unhelpful, not makeup. When people disagree that you’ve made the point you wanted to make it’s not always because they didn’t read carefully enough :)

            1. Nanani*

              Look, I realize that for people who are into this stuff, skincare and makeup are very distinct buckets, but please try to understand that to those of use who don’t do that sort of thing, its’ all the same category.

              You are coming off like the kind of person who responds to turning down alcoholic beverages with “how about a cocktail” because surely that’s ok, cocktails aren’t the same as wine and beer.
              Some humans do not do any beauty care, nitpicking bout what’s skin care and what’s makeup is super Not Helpful.

              1. Loulou*

                It’s wild that you’re assuming I myself am into skincare or makeup, when I haven’t said anything of the sort! I also did not make any comments suggesting that OP adopt a skincare regime. Regardless, I didn’t find the comment I replied to helpful or relevant and explained why I thought the situations are different. Your response is really strange.

                1. Nanani*

                  Nobody said -you- were, oddly enough. Just that “but it’s SKINCARE and not MAKEUP” is a weird thing to say that could be explained by being into that hobby space.

                  Moderator note: I removed the last sentence of your reply here because it was too snarky for this space. Please take it down a notch in your replies to other commenters. Thank you. – Alison

                2. Loulou*

                  Nanani, I’m literally replying back and forth with someone whose original comment drew a distinction between makeup and skincare. Their first comment was “I don’t think the comments about skincare are helpful because” and then they later said they had been trying to demonstrate why the comments about MAKEUP are unhelpful. If you think drawing a distinction between makeup and skincare *in the context of trying to parse this comment* is the same as saying OP should do skincare since it’s not makeup, that’s really obtuse and not in good faith.

                3. TransmascJourno*

                  Loulou, I mean this kindly, but I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. The anecdote you’re referring to used their skin as an example, but the overall point is a lot bigger. From what I understand from @GenderIsForOtherPeople’s comment, they’re attempting to highlight how unsolicited comments nonbinary/gender nonconforming people receive about their appearance are simply microaggressions, and that even if OP#1 found the perfect solution for the problem they wrote in about, it’s very possible their coworkers would find another thing to latch onto.

                  For instance, a nonbinary person can dress professionally within the bounds of their office culture and prefer not to wear any makeup because it gives them dysphoria. But if a coworker who by and large might outwardly behave appropriately towards them (i.e., using correct pronouns, etc.) but internally take issue with their gender presentation identity, making comments related to their lack of makeup use serves as a coded way to express discomfort with that. It’s a way to other a gender-nonconforming person under the guise of plausible deniability. What @GenderIsForOtherPeople was attempting to illustrate is that part of the reason the comments that posited makeup/skincare as the only, be-all-end-all solutions (and while not addressing or willfully ignoring everything else the writer said or indicated in their letter) wouldn’t actually do any help at all. The reason? Because people who are discomfited with nonbinary/GNC presentations or identities will always find another way to make their discomfort known. Basically: internalized transphobia is a tricky thing to battle on all fronts.

                  (@Gender is for other people: please correct me if I got any of that wrong, of course!)

                4. Loulou*

                  Transmascjourno, I do appreciate that larger point and agree that the skincare comments are misguided and inappropriate for a million reasons, including the ones you mention. I still question how helpful it is to say “if OP didn’t have the problem they wrote in about, they’d still have the same problem as me!” Maybe they would, but we can’t know that without knowing way more about OP, their coworkers, the environment…anything outside the little we know from what OP told us is speculation at the end of the day.

                5. Gender is for other people*

                  @TransmascJourno thank you, you’re correct. I appreciate your comments in this thread.

                  It is 100% a microaggression to assume that a nonbinary/gender non-conforming person is in need of beauty advice. My anecdote was to highlight that even with physical appearance related privileges, in certain industries, the norms around grooming and the presumptuous nature of colleagues can bring to the fore both internal & external pressures about appearances for people who don’t neatly fit into [insert gender here].
                  Loulou you really need to sit down and think before continuing to respond to these, your comments are pretty out of line & don’t appear to be very kind in intention.

            2. biobotb*

              This seems like an obtuse way to split hairs, given that the OP stated that they’re nonbinary and don’t wish to conform to beauty standards for women, but coworkers appear to be applying those standards to them anyway. It doesn’t take a leap to understand that makeup tips would be unhelpful to someone in that situation.

        4. WS*

          +1, there’s nothing “wrong” with my face that needs fixing, it’s just a regular face, and I’m white, so no racist double standard there. But I’m AFAB non-binary and everyone female-presenting in my workplace wears make-up (only one of the male-presenting people, though) and often give me casual “tips” despite me saying I’ve never worn it and I’m not going to start now. It’s usually just mildly annoying but sometimes distressing when other gender-related shenanigans are going on.

    1. Fran Fine*

      This is an interesting perspective and this part

      Focusing on other ways to help the OP—like finding LGBTQ and trans communities online composed of people within their industry to talk to—would be a lot more beneficial.

      should be repeated. Having a community within your work industry is so important.

    2. LilyP*

      +1 — skin care regimens and tinted moisturizers are not at all gender neutral practices, and are honestly part and parcel of the same beauty expectations and make-up industry as concealer and foundation

      1. Bayta Darrell*

        I think there is a fundamental disconnect with how different people are viewing these products which is causing some of the disagreement here. You are seeing moisturizer as the same as makeup, but I don’t. I rarely wear makeup. It’s definitely not a daily thing for me. But you know what is nearly daily for me? A face moisturizer. It’s nothing fancy, just a cheap drugstore brand, but I need it for my dry face. On the rare occasion that I wear makeup, it’s because I want to change the appearance of my face. When I moisturize, I don’t care about what it looks like, I just don’t like the feeling of dry skin. I’m also very fair, so if I’m going outside for more than ten minutes, even if it’s cloudy, you bet I’m wearing sunscreen. I don’t do this because I like the appearance of greasy sunscreens or the ghostly glow of a mineral sunscreen, I do it because I don’t want painful blisters or skin cancer. While I can see how you’re lumping a tinted moisturizer in with makeup, for me it would be more in the lotion/sunscreen category. It feels different to recommend a tinted lotion or sunscreen, which is more about health of the skin with a appearance component added, as opposed to a foundation or concealer which are more about looks. And that brings me to the part about you stating that it’s not gender neutral. I think this, again, is something that varies by product (and also by culture). While it’s true that makeup for appearance is still very gendered here in the US, it’s not entirely so, and we are seeing more gender diversity from YouTube all the way to ads from major brands. However, the lotion/sunscreen category is far less gendered. No one has ever given my cis male husband any grief for putting on sunscreen. He also has eczema, so he is the one in our house who uses the most lotion. If you’ve heard of slugging, my husband has been doing that for years, and no one finds this odd. Because again, lotions and sunscreens are more about health (which is more gender neutral) and less about vanity (which in the US is typically viewed as a more “feminine” concern). So that’s why some people are seeing it as a possible solution, because it feels like a loophole. It’s something that takes all of 30 seconds and (if you get something with spf) will protect the face from cancer, but since it has a little bit of tint it will shut down the comments without rocking the boat. If the LW wants to rock the boat and point out the ridiculous nature of their coworkers’ comments, that’s great! But if they (or anyone reading this post) aren’t ready or able to stick themselves out there like that, this is an alternative.

        1. TransmascJourno*

          But this isn’t about any of that. If the OP wanted to research skincare routines in order to avoid wearing makeup, they would’ve most likely investigated that option and not written to AAM. The issue isn’t about concealer, really—it’s about the OP being able to do their job without having to adhere to generally gendered norms as a nonbinary person. And to go about their day to day being an OP-shaped-OP without inappropriate, unprofessional commentary from coworkers (which is also a big issue).

        2. Emmy Noether*

          Mh, you might have a point about the disconnect. I must say that for me, a cis, femme presenting woman (for context), all of that stuff does fall into the same mental category of “faffing around with my skin”. I do (some of) it, because my skin is terrible and I’m vain, but I don’t like it. Also, I despise the feeling of most products on my skin. Took me a long time to find moisturizer that I don’t hate. I’ve yet to find sunscreen that doesn’t make me want to wash it off immediately. Finding products I like to use is the worst. I totally understand not wanting to do any of it.

          1. Beth*

            For sunscreen, check out Japanese and Korean brands. They tend to be thinner and more watery in texture than American sunscreens, they dry down to basically no texture, and I’ve never gotten a burn through them (and I burn easily!)

          2. Working Hypothesis*

            I’m also cis female and I agree that the whole category feels like “messing around with skin crap” that I don’t want to do. I don’t have your reasons for choosing to do it anyway — nothing wrong with them, I just don’t share them — but I couldn’t tolerate a job which required that I use moisturizer any more than one which required that I use makeup. Hell, I couldn’t even tolerate a job which required me to use sunscreen. I’ll wear it under conditions of extreme grumpiness if I’m going out under the blistering sun for an outing… but I would never take an outdoor job, because I don’t want to have to put crap on my skin every day. Doesn’t matter what the crap is. I can’t even imagine being told by my *work colleagues* that I should be putting crap on my face to make it look prettier. I think I would probably say something regrettable the first time it was brought up, and quit on the spot the second time.

          3. Anonyone*

            Biore UV watery essence is my go to. It dries up in a few minutes and I can’t feel a thing.
            Plus I’m ginger so the high spf number is important to me.

            I’m meh on the whole gender thing, so I do some skin care and kind of lump it under basic maintenance, but the only cosmetic that i really wear happily is nail varnish.

          4. Liz T*

            She does not have a point. If she did, she wouldn’t have had to play a shell game with sunscreen and tinted moisturizer. No one was talking about sunscreen, so I have no clue where she’s getting, “my husband uses sunscreen, therefore a totally different product that he does NOT use isn’t gendered.”

            It’s like saying, “my husband uses shampoo, therefore no expectations around haircare or hairstyling are gendered, ever.”

        3. Liz T*

          This is so disingenuous, it’s infuriating. Tinted moisturizer and sunscreen are not the same thing; your husband does not use tinted moisturizer. I have not heard of slugging and I’m not looking it up cuz I don’t care about your silky skincare trends, but you’re pretending the issue is sunscreen or lotion just to dismiss the gender component, when at NO POINT has anyone suggested that trans masc or nonbinary people have an aversion to sunscreen or lotion.

          Please stay out of trans related discussions. You don’t participate in good faith. Over make-up advice!!

        4. FridayFriyay*

          Your perspective on this as a presumably cis person does not supersede the experiences of people who are non-binary who are pointing out that broader skincare conventions are often gendered in a way that can cause dysphoria.

          1. ferrina*

            I think Bayta’s point is that make-up vs skincare conventions look different and trigger differently to different people (both across identity groups and within identity groups). So for some folks, make-up is completely different from skincare; for some folks, it’s in the same category (I happen to be in the latter group).

            That’s a nuance that hasn’t really been discussed up-thread, and I like that Bayta brought it up. The coworkers sound like they’re in the former group, whereas LW sounds like they’re in the latter group. It’s a cultural disconnect, but one that is very understandably triggering. And the thing that sucks is that it can hold LW back professionally.

            Honestly, I am right there with LW on the skincare (and I’m cis female). I hate messing about with my face so I can be “pretty” for someone else. My face is my face; it feels good on me and it’s not like I have food or dirt smudged on it. If I have a bit of acne or wrinkles or bags, it’s because I’m human and I have a body, and if that is uncomfortable for someone, that’s their issue not mine. And that’s without any of the complexity of how society treats queer folk, defaults to binary gendering, and if LW experiences dysmorphia (if applicable).

        5. allathian*

          My husband has adult acne, which means that when it flares up, his nose will get red to the point that one of his nicknames is Rudolph. When he had to give an important presentation at work, on Zoom, he used some of my old foundation to make his nose look less red. He also uses moisturizer, especially on his face, because in addition to the acne he has very dry skin, and sunscreen in the summer. He identifies as a cis man, and would think it odd if anyone questioned his gender identity because he uses moisturizer regularly.

        6. rubble*

          I think you’re right, there is absolutely a disconnect here

          for example, I was with you on face moisturizer not being makeup-adjacent…… until you started talking about tinted moisturizer. to me, that falls into the “change your appearance” category and is now makeup-adjacent because it changes the colour of your skin (only a little! but it does).

        7. Nanani*

          Oh come on.

          When someone turns down a drink, do you offer them wine instead of beer, or are you capable of understanding that they don’t want to drink?

        8. quill*

          Moisturizer can absolutely recieve gendered branding, or gender neutral branding, and obviously gendered branding could be a dysphoria trigger. It would certainly be nice if basic hygeine products like soap and lotion didn’t carry any gender baggage, but… marketing.

          Whether or not something is “makeup” is completely irrelevant to OP’s problem, which is “my coworkers continue to tell me to change my face to match gendered expectations, how can I get them to NOT, and also is it realistic for me to hope that not using these products with gendered marketing won’t hold me back here?”

          We’ve gone as a commentariat down a rabbithole of attemptedly helpful “Oh, it must be ‘makeup’ that’s the problem, here is another route that is maybe less dysphoric because it’s more subtly gendered?” (With digressions into whether products marketed as “skincare” are actually medically beneficial… to which the answer is sometimes, on a case by case basis.) And sort of skipped over the whole point of OP’s problem, which is “people keep telling me to change how my face looks and that’s a very loaded-with-gendered-expectations comment.”

    3. MEH Squared*

      Thanks for saying this and I completely agree. I am female-presenting (genderqueer for now) and have not worn makeup in decades. I tried and felt like a clown putting it on. Plus, back in the day, I was very allergic to most makeup, so it was a no-go.

      Periodically over the years I try lipstick just for funsies and come to the conclusion of, “Nope, still not for me.” And I get frustrated that every time a question about someone not wanting to wear makeup comes up, there are inevitable suggestions that are in the vein of, “This isn’t a makeup suggestion” when it’s at least makeup-adjacent.

      I think your suggestion of finding community in the industry is a more helpful one.

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      Regardless of what I wrote above, this is possibly true. But even though I am myself well described by “anxiety inducing dysphoria” when it comes to appearance and norms of gendered performance, my own discovery about areas I have control over and the inner workings of some products has been a positive experience. I don’t think I would have been helped by people trying to divine what might trigger my dysphoria and sheltering me. Admittedly, my standard response to anxiety inducing conundrums is to learn the available facts – which may not do anything for you or the OP.

      I second the advice to find LGBT+ people in their filed. Tho in mine, these include a whole lot of people who are very knowledgeable about the whole skin care and grooming rigamarole, between the drag king who regularly wears transmasculine makeup, the lesbian who has a business specializing in facials and the gay man with the skincare YouTube channel. IOW, it’s a very good tip, but may lead right back into the den of anxiety.

      1. TransmascJourno*

        I truly mean it when I saw that I’m glad that your experience with these products has been a positive experience. But I also think you might be ignoring the possibility that the OP has explored those venues already. Again per the OP’s letter, makeup “doesn’t feel good, is expensive and time-consuming, and makes me feel like I’m conforming to traditional beauty norms (for women) that I don’t want to conform to.” And in their follow-up, they stated that they are under the care of a dermatologist.

        What I’m saying is this: to presume that the OP as a GNC person has not already considered these things, even though their letter very much indicates that they have—as gender nonconforming people on the whole very much do—is something akin to the idea of hearing rather than listening.

        For what it’s worth, I think the examples you gave in your second paragraph are evidence of how people who aren’t heteronormative or cisnormative give a great deal of thought about gender—it bolsters my case. And that you’ve outlined exactly what I’m describing is an inherent refutation of how what you’re calling “sheltering from facts” is what I’d call, to put it simply, consideration and empathy.

    5. quill*

      Yeah, the advice for using more products has mostly boiled down to “conform more to (presumably feminine) gender standards, but I the commenter believe that this specific way of doing it is Good For You! (And still would not recommend this if OP had written in and been a cis man)”

      (With a side of “well, I don’t think this is gendered so it must not be!”)

      LW1, I do wonder: even if there aren’t queer advocacy groups in your new industry, are there some in your realm of specialization? For example, queer people in data science (or accounting, or… whatever). There might be better scripts for the fact that your coworkers expect you to visibly conform more to their gendered appearance ideals, because that is the ultimate problem, even if they also believe that your skin is healthier if you don’t have darker skin under your eyes.

      1. quill*

        TBH, this also applies if there are queer advocacy groups in your cosmetic industry but they’re not helpful on your specific problem, because when it comes to an industry with such gendered expectations, you’re more likely to encounter queer people whose solution to gender is “try all the things” rather than “opt out of the whole circus.”

      2. TransmascJourno*

        I wholeheartedly agree with this. Some comments to OP #1 that have either suggested or doubled-down on skincare/cosmetic fixes (rather than seeking out others who are queer/trans/nonbinary in their industry) have also made my nonbinary-Spidey senses tingle by way of assuming that the OP doesn’t have any sort of pre-existing knowledge on those topics, even in a general sense. By and large, people who fall under the gender-nonconforming umbrella have spent A LOT of time considering gender, gendered constructs, gender performance, and where we fit in. A number of us tried really, really hard in the past to adhere to (mostly heteronormative) gender norms in order to just survive.

        My read of the comments pushing skincare/cosmetics as a solution is that there’s an implicit presumption that because the OP is nonbinary, then it must mean they have no experience with or knowledge of skincare or cosmetics. But it’s very likely the opposite is true.

        1. TransmascJourno*

          To clarify, not ALL the skincare/cosmetics-related comments, but specifically, the ones in which the commenter really, really digs their heels in after a rebuttal.

          1. quill*

            Yeah, I myself wandered a bit into the rabbit hole of “here’s some actual facts about your skin because I did a science degree and then worked at a business that was about skin in ways that most of you do not want to hear about,” which is more useful to other commentators than actually useful to OP. There’s a gulf between those going “is there a different application that would be less dysphoric and still shut the coworkers up?” in the makeup and skincare comments and those insisting that their method of choice is healthier / better / not gendered / important.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          This is an interesting point. One can probably safely assume that OP has either tried all that stuff in the past and decided it’s not for them, or they’ve decided they have no interest in trying. The chances they’ve never heard of tinted moisturizer and would really love it are pretty small.

  10. Anon, Anon, Anon*

    OP5 – Start ramping that search up and GET OUT! Things are never going to get better and you are going to burn out, how do I know – I nearly watched that happen to my spouse. For a while things were good at Company – but then “HR Queen of Evil Bees**” forced out the department manager as part of her “Kill Department” plan* – and things got bad fast. The new manager refused to manage and said his philosophy of the department was “were like a helicopter- a collection of parts loosely flying in formation.” It took spouse two years of constant application and interview to get a new job, and things are greatly improved now – but it was a fairly rough two years of searching while trying to not burn out or let the frustration bleed into job interviews.

    *Her plan was doomed to fail – Legal, Insurance, and the Federal Government required the presence of this department in all companies in that industry. But “HR Queen of Evil Bees” didn’t like the department because it was the only department in the whole company she had no say in hiring for (because she totally lacked the necessary experience to evaluate applicants in that very, very, very Niche department), and she couldn’t allow that to stand. Spouse is still in the same industry – we had our own little celebration when “HR Queen of Evil Bees” was forced out by legal for harassing another employee in that same department.

    **Oh, and that was her unofficial nickname even outside of that company – she was a legend for ALL the wrong reasons, no one could understand why she was in HR, much less running the department given that reputation.

    1. LilyP*

      “were like a helicopter- a collection of parts loosely flying in formation”

      Aside from anything else, that is……not how helicopters work??? Lol what a bizarre analogy!

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        It’s a jokey phrase people say about helicopters (or sometimes, other aircraft). It just means that they’re complicated, have a zillion moving parts, and are prone to failure frequently.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Yeah, I took a “quality” course some 35 years ago They were using some commercially produced videos where the instructor said “some places run quality like the game of hockey – a lot of action, but no organization to the game.”

        Now, we were watching this in Boston. Where there are a lot of people who play, or have played the game, and anyone who has will tell you that there IS a lot of organization on the ice. A considerable amount, and if you don’t play into the structure, you won’t play.

        So, it all depends on the “playbook” the manager is following, or, makes up.

  11. JellyWater*

    Why work in an industry that profits from and reinforces the traditional gender norms that make you uncomfortable?

    1. Loulou*

      Lol OP didn’t suggest they have some sort of a moral objection to wearing makeup so this is extremely dramatic and also just not a helpful comment.

    2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Because people need to make money? I have worked in a place that produced items that are at best unnecessary. Didn’t love it, but I loved having a roof over my head, so…

      1. Airy*

        I think the word “luxury” in “luxury beauty industry” primes us mentally to think of this as a somewhat fancy/desirable job, not one taken just to make ends meet – accurately or not, when we think of a job taken purely out of necessity we don’t imagine it being in a field that’s glamorous or glamour-adjacent, rather the opposite. I think the connotations of “luxury” are tilting people towards imagining OP could pick and choose and for some reason actively chose this, as opposed to settling for it.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Interesting, I didn’t have this association at all. Maybe because it wouldn’t be a desirable job for me?
          I wouldn’t call it “settling” though, because that sounds negative. A job can be great (good culture, interesting work, etc.) without any particular passion for or even interest in the end product of the company. Probably not in sales, but for example in accounting or IT. That’s not settling.

        2. Parakeet*

          Hmm. When I think of “luxury” as in “luxury beauty industry,” I assume the connotation refers to more upscale products, i.e. to customers being in a position to pick and choose, rather than staff. If I go to a pricey coffee/sandwich shop for lunch instead of a cheaper one, I don’t necessarily assume that the baristas at the former are in a better position to pick and choose their jobs.

          Also, as a few people have pointed out, the OP could be working in IT or accountancy or some other infrastructure role (I know someone who does IT for a major clothing retailer, and I don’t assume that he necessarily has any affinity for their products or sought the job out for that reason, though I suppose it might be possible). And/or it could be a company, or department of the company, that makes non-makeup beauty products – nail care or hair care or body butter.

        3. Observer*

          accurately or not, when we think of a job taken purely out of necessity we don’t imagine it being in a field that’s glamorous or glamour-adjacent, rather the opposite.

          That’s an extremely odd idea. I can see that being true of some areas of the company, but it just doesn’t make sense for a lot of the back end / support job. I mean, can you imagine saying that about the custodial staff?

          And it’s quite obvious even without the OP’s additional comments, that this job is not about a career in the industry, but a career in their profession.

    3. Elder Millennial*

      Because make-up in itself is a neutral tool? Even if we look at trans people, I know several trans women for who wearing make-up for the first time was an extremely powerful experience.

      1. Beck*

        I’m not sure you intended to give such clear evidence that make up is not a neutral tool?

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I read the above as saying that makeup was morally neutral, not gender-neutral.

          I don’t personally think it’s either; the ways it is marketed to women come across to me as deeply ethically problematic. But that’s my own opinion and very possibly not Elder Millennial’s.

    4. Kella*

      Have you watched any beauty youtube videos? Several of the most famous, most successful beauty YouTubers right now are men. Makeup has become far more popular and far more adaptable in the last 5 years and as a result, it’s now being used as a tool to *defy* gender norms. It’s an art form, just like fashion or hair. You can use it to say a lot of different things.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Yes, you can. But when random coworkers start nudging female-appearing people to wear it when they’ve shown zero interest in doing so, it isn’t being used to defy gender norms.

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      Probably because it was the best job they could get in their field at the time and in the location where they happened to be.

    6. Pool Lounger*

      Why do so many people work in industries they aren’t inherently interested in or don’t morally support? Because people need jobs. You think everyone at Amazon or Google or BP or in banking supports everything about the company?

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I mean I wouldn’t take a job in a field that did something I was morally opposed to (the cigarette industry being a prime example). But I’ve often taken jobs in fields I wasn’t personally interested in because the job is interesting and / or I needed the money. I don’t have to be personally deeply fascinated by what a company does or want to buy their product myself, to enjoy working there.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep. I’m an editor who works on books. I enjoy the work and I’m good at the nuts and bolts of my job. It’s a job that can be translated into any area of publishing – it’s the same basic way of running a production schedule with the same stages (copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading etc) whether it’s cookery books or autobiographies or novels or whatever. I’ve worked on lots of different types of books in my career – some of them have been genres I particularly enjoyed on a personal level, and some have been books about things I don’t have a particular interest in, but it’s still doing a job I enjoy, so fundamentally it doesn’t really matter whether I’m working on books about sport or cookery or crafts or celebrities.

        2. Loredena*

          So that’s an interesting point. I don’t support the tobacco industry but I spent several years working for a food manufacturer that was for most of that time a subsidiary of one. It was a job in my field in a rough market. Sometimes that’s the bottom line!

      2. Totally anon for this*

        Yup. I work at a foreclosure firm. I 100% understand that many people would not work here. However, for almost all of the people I know in the industry, they’re generally good people who do the job in the most respectful and compliant way possible.

    7. Katie*

      I work in the travel industry. I don’t travel much that doesn’t mean I am morally opposed to travelling.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      There is no indication they are uncomfortable with the industry, just that they don’t personally want to partake in it.

  12. Tbs*

    OP 1 – what did you do during the interview process? If you didn’t wear makeup then, I would guess there is no need to now.

  13. Ele4phant*

    I didn’t wear makeup for two years and couldn’t be happier about it.

    But…if you work in the luxury beauty business, I mean is it really a surprise it’s an implicit expectation?

    It’s what you all *do* to make money.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I mean, I once spent 8 months working as a temp in mortgage foreclosure, and I didn’t have any kind of mortgage of my own, let alone one in default. Sometimes people take jobs because they are jobs, and not because they are excited about the industry.

      Alternately, they may be really excited about some aspect of the luxury beauty industry in general, just not as applied (literally) to their own particular face. There are plenty of other industries where that wouldn’t be weird at all, but I can’t speak to the beauty industry since I’ve never ended up working in that one.

      1. FYI*

        It’s one thing to be “not excited” about an industry, but this LW is pretty staunchly opposed to the industry they’re working for.

        1. TransmascJourno*

          There’s no indication of that. They just don’t want to wear makeup for personal reasons. That’s hardly (if at all) the same as staunchly opposing an entire industry.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They don’t say that! They personally don’t wear makeup for reasons, but they don’t name opposition to the industry as one of those reasons.

          Lots and lots of people work for companies that make products they’re not into in their personal lives; it’s not that weird. (Although this particular field sounds like it has a culture that’s more about living the product than many others.)

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            And some of the comments on this thread are assuming that “luxury beauty” means a skincare or make-up company. It could, but it could also mean a company that makes hair products, nail products or bath products. It’s not uncommon for people who to be fine with the specific part of an industry that they are in, but to have issues with other types of companies in the same industry.
            Regardless, OP should not have to wear make-up and their colleagues should stop mentioning their skin.

            1. pancakes*

              I’ve seen a few comments along these lines, but if I went to, say, Leonor Greyl or Christophe Robin HQ and hair seemed to be the only aspect of personal grooming employees focused on, I’d probably be a bit surprised by that. Broadly speaking I’m not inclined to think many people in the luxury beauty industry are that niche in their interests. That said, I fully agree the letter writer’s coworkers have been rude, and that they shouldn’t have to wear makeup or make a hobby out of skincare to keep their job.

          2. Phony Genius*

            Alison, I think your parenthetical comment is the basis of a lot of the questions being asked in this vein. If this field does have a culture of “living the product,” it’s a little harder to understand somebody working in that industry who doesn’t use the product that much. It’s a bit different from say, a non-smoker working at a tobacco company, since you’re not expected to smoke in the office.

            1. FridayFriyay*

              This is only a reasonable expectation if it applies equally to people of all genders, including cis men, and is not just being foisted upon the LW because people want to gender them as a woman or “woman lite.”

        3. bamcheeks*

          I bet there are plenty of men working in this industry who don’t get called “staunchly opposed” to the industry because they personally don’t want to wear make-up!

          This isn’t OP’s ideological objection to the entire beauty industry, it’s them personally not wearing it because it’s not part of their gender presentation. “Make-up and female beauty standard are not for me” is not necessarily a comment on the entire industry.

          A LOT of the advice here is that which would be given to a woman in the same situation who just doesn’t like make-up: “oh, have you just tried… [make-up-like -thing which would rarely be suggested to man in the same situation]” or “if you don’t like make-up, why are you working in???” There’s a danger here of the commenters basically repeating exactly the same subtle misgendering as the people OP is working with, who are also probably not suggesting concealer or tinted moisturisers to their male / masc colleagues unless they’ve suggested a clear interest in those things.

          1. Pool Lounger*

            Yuuup. I wish the comments on soin care hadn’t been allowed either. That’s the same sort of talk we non-makeup-wearers get all the time. (I’ve tried acids and all that stuff, and it either bothered my skin or just was an annoying time and money drain for me. My skin is aging, as am I, and I’m ok with that! Lineless skin isn’t a virtue.)

          2. Nanani*

            Very very good point!
            It reminds of when someone says they don’t drink and get either 1) suggestions for new and quirky drinks, as if they had said “I don’t like the taste of beer” and not “I don’t want any drinks at all”, or 2) the same WHY ARE YOU JUDGING THIS WHOLE THING attitude when in fact, not wanting to partake isn’t judging -you- for taking part in it.

            Just more sexist and weirder.

  14. JR*

    My experience working for a beauty company was that it was less like working for say, a bank with strong expectations about appearance and more like working for Nike. They hire super fans, who are passionate about the industry. I worked in a non-product and non-marketing role, and my colleagues were definitely less focused on their makeup and fashion choices than people in other departments – I don’t think not being into makeup would have limited their career (at least not for someone good, as Alison notes). However, that was the clear culture of the company, and most people who worked there were there because it was a personal passion. So perhaps think of this less like someone at Goldman instructing the accountant to wear concealer and more like someone at Nike offering the accountant unsolicited advice on the best shoes for their particular gait, or whatever. People should probably keep their unsolicited advice to themselves, and no one should have to be a runner to get a job at Nike – it’s presumably discrimination to require it – but a love for the products is core to the company culture and reason for existing.

    1. Fran Fine*

      Yup, this is my understanding from people who work in the industry as well. It’s not just a job for many of them, it’s a lifestyle, so there is the implicit expectation that one conforms to whatever standard the company’s trying to create through the products.

    2. Nanani*

      But like, they hired LW1 already. They didn’t wear makeup at first and then stop, either.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I once took a meeting on the Nike campus (I was a fundraiser meeting with a potential donor) and arrived wearing my standard business-casual workwear, including hard soled shoes. When people heard me walking across the outdoor pavilion they looked around in confusion because I was the only one on the entire property not wearing sneakers!

  15. The Prettiest Curse*

    #4 – as an events person who sometimes organises invitation-only dinners, it’s way more likely to be an error or oversight than deliberate. The most likely thing that happened is that there was a line on a spreadsheet or some kind of data entry error and nobody realised. It’s very, very easy to miss this type of thing, especially if it only affects a few people. So there’s definitely no harm in asking if you can go.

  16. Tinkerbell*

    LW2, the job post in need of corrections can be a big red flag as to how much the company values what you do, FWIW. I was in this situation with a potential new job and it turned out the hiring manager was at serious odds with other higher-ups in the company as to what, exactly, needed editing. The other bosses felt that as long as everyone could communicate internally, that was good enough. The manager who had posted the ad felt they needed a more polished approach to their written documentation and when communicating with customers. The job would have been, essentially, to correct people who didn’t want correcting. I noped out of there and I hope whoever they did hire managed to sort things out! That particular company was complicated by the fact that they had employees all over the world (largely in South America and SE Asia) and while every office had at least a few who spoke English, nobody was a native speaker… but I’ve seen this problem in American companies too.

    There are plenty of editing and editing-adjacent jobs out there for people who actually want to listen – no sense setting yourself up for failure.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      Also remember that the person who enters an ad into the system is probably not the hiring manager. I did a final proof of a job ad that was then butchered when entered onto the website. We tried for a month to get it corrected.

    2. Nanani*

      This is true – there are definitely situations where someone with an imbalance of power and ego decides to “correct” copy, whether it’s a job posting or a giant poster, without checking with the people who actually know how to do those things properly.
      A LOT of incorrect translation, for example, gets posted because a middle manager decides their half-remembered high school knowledge is better than the actually fluent translator because MM is higher up in the company and the translator is “just” a freelancer, for example.

      That said, you can’t tell from the outside and the risk of annoying the company (especially if your edits include anything that is more stylistic and that they chose affirmatively) is quite high.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        I’ve fought this in my reporting to the agencies that regulate us. I wrote the report using very specific language and the person who finalizes the report changed it “because it reads better.” I agreed that it read better, but I needed the exact language I used to comply. It took far longer than it should have to get the final signatures because I went through this on a couple of levels of management. The report was late, and while I didn’t get blamed, I had to explain (again to several levels) why it was late.

    3. Weegie*

      There are, regrettably, more than a few editing jobs where the organisation doesn’t really know what an editor is or does. I interviewed for two jobs where the editing was done *after* the design/typesetting rather than before and it had previously been carried out by people with no editing experience or training. Desperate as I was for a job at the time, I was rather glad I didn’t get one of the jobs. I did get the other and managed to persuade them to put editing before document design, but ended up resigning from the toxic soup that was that so-called publications unit as soon as I could. It’s possible in the LW’s case that HR wrote the job description, not the relevant manager, but it’s also possible they just have no idea what they’re doing.

    4. zutara*

      I work in writing/editing and I also consider job ads with a ton of errors a red flag for these roles.

    5. KayDeeAye*

      I disagree, Tinkerbell. It could be a red flag because of course they should care about the correctness of their job postings – as a dedicated grammar geek, I care deeply about the correctness of job postings – but as others (including Alison) have noted, the person doing the hiring isn’t always the person who writes the description and preps it for posting, much less the person who actually posts it.

      All you can say about a company with a poorly written and punctuated job posting is that it has a poorly written and punctuated job posting. Maybe they are usually fine but the person who normally posts them was on vacation. Maybe the posting system introduced some errors (I’ve definitely heard of this, particularly when pasting something with punctuation that was written in Word into another platform). Or perhaps they really don’t give a darn. You won’t know until you get more information.

      But I agree with Alison and others that if the OP applies, they need to let this gooooooooo.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        As for editing the job posting, perhaps one time out of twenty they will be impressed, or even have put in the errors as a test. Everyone else will just be annoyed. Oh, and the ones who put it in as a test? Who would want to work for those clowns?

    6. Dragon*

      It’s not just job postings that could use editing. I had to figure out the required documentation to get a shipment released from customs hold in an Asian country. The instructions on the website – of a major international shipping company – were in very unclear English.

  17. Beth*

    LW1 – In most industries, I would say that comments like these are incredibly rude and you shouldn’t be required to do anything in particular with your face to be seen as professionally groomed.

    I think the snag here is that you’re in the beauty industry. That’s one where I might actually see some amount of engagement with beauty products being tied to professionalism–not because of societal norms, but because of the industry you’re in. For example, employees of all genders at my local makeup stores wear obvious makeup, I assume because it’s the product they’re selling; it sounds like you’re in an office role, not retail, but I could easily see some amount of that expectation carrying over.

    Do you happen to have a nonbinary coworker? or even a male coworker who you would feel comfortable talking about grooming/professional appearance with? I totally get not wanting to be pushed into woman-coded makeup practices–that sounds like a recipe for feeling misgendered all the time, which sucks! But it could be really helpful to get a read on what the expectations are in your specific workplace for non-women employees. You might find that a certain minimum amount of skincare or even makeup is expected for everyone, or that they do nothing and have never had any repercussions from it beyond occasional comments, or anything on the spectrum in between. But no matter what you turn up, at least you’d be able to make a better informed choice.

    1. un-pleased*

      Yes, there are some industries and specific brands where appearance or some sort of adherence to the lifestyle imagery of the brand does matter, and I would think the luxury market in anything is one of them regardless of position outside of a lab. Given that the largest growing market in the U.S. for cosmetics and makeup is for men, if there are other nonbinary or masculine-presenting folks in the company or industry, that would be a great resource.

      On that note, I wonder if LW might discover in those conversations that there are ways to subvert expectations about cosmetics. There are a lot of ways for people of all gender presentations to dress that are super snazzy and don’t require adhering to traditionally femme standards or use of makeup or skincare routines. Is there one piece they can focus on like patterned socks, ties, vests, well-tailored shirts, shoes like sneakers or oxfords, or a great bag collection that can become a signature? LW, if you look at your coworkers, what besides makeup are they doing with regard to self-presentation?

    2. Nanani*

      Maybe it would help to spell it out to the next person who makes a comment?
      “I’m at a desk crunching numbers all day, surely you don’t expect me to be repping the brand to the rest of the office?” Or something to that effect to highlight the absurdity of expecting them to wear the product to sit in an office. They are not selling or demonstrating the makeup so actually no, wearing it really isn’t part of the job, right hypothetical susan?

    3. BigHairNoHeart*

      Just wanted to say that I really love the suggestion to talk to non-women employees about this to get a read on the situation at this workplace. I think that will likely bring more light to what’s driving these comments, which is going to be valuable for OP to know so they can decide on their next steps. Good luck with whatever you decide to do OP, sounds like a tough situation to navigate!

      1. quill*

        Yes, I think that’s probably the best way to tell if this is being driven by “use our product” or by subconscious gendered expectations.

  18. Avi?*

    Congratulations, #5, you work in a dumpster fire. You may want to put out the fire, but it’s impossible to do that while you’re surrounded by an inferno of blazing garbage. Escape for your own safety and let the disaster burn itself out.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I once received excellent advice upon finding myself in a dumpster fire…” you can either put out the fire or get out (of) the fire…which one is easier?”
      (Spoiler alert: I got out!)

    2. Katie*

      I hated my previous job because the people I worked with denied that there were any fires despite the obvious evidence of the flames.
      My current job is a raging inferno of issues but everyone fully acknowledges the fire and is working to put it out.

      They should get out because they are just going to get burned.

      1. ferrina*

        Yes! The worst is when they half-acknowledge the fire and say “oh, we definitely want to put it out. But we don’t want to use water because REASONS. Oh, and that extinguisher is also a Nope.”

        I’ve worked for that company, and you will never win.

  19. WoodswomanWrites*

    LW #2, as a word-obsessed professional writer and editor, I understand the temptation. There is no off-switch for my noticing typos in particular. But unless I have been invited to review someone’s text, it’s rude to assume my comments would be welcome. If I were the hiring manager and an applicant assumed it would be okay to add their corrective feedback on a job announcement, it would guarantee that I wouldn’t hire that person.

    Good will is everything when applying for a job. Resist the temptation to edit the announcement and instead focus on making sure that your application is well-written, has no typos, and persuades them to offer you an interview.

    1. Sherm*

      Agreed. I know that if I had written the job description, I would be embarrassed to have my errors exposed, especially if I was a proofreader who was supposed to be good at such things. And I would be doubly embarrassed (and upset with the job applicant) if the job applicant caused my errors to be noticed by my colleagues.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Every time I read a question here that asks if someone should edit a job description, I wonder how the OP would feel if a potential employer came back with editing suggestions for their cover letter or resume. I absolutely understand the impulse to edit every last typo, but there’s an appropriate time and place for editing suggestions and (unless you’re specifically given an editing exercise to complete), the job application process is not the time or the place.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It does risk coming across as that person who will reply-all to every email with helpful corrections.

        1. Unaccountably*

          This would send LW2’s resume to the bottom of the pile if I were the hiring manager. It would demonstrate that she in fact doesn’t know the appropriate time and place for editing, is probably resistant to being told (because what are the odds that she’s gotten this far in life without anyone clueing her in that unsolicited editing is annoying?), and might damage my team’s relationships with other departments if she does it often enough.

          Also, I’d need her to be reading those emails, not editing them.

    3. Allonge*


      Look, OP, if you want to, go ahead and edit the text so it’s out of your mind, but don’t send your edits until… forever, but at least until a month into your job there, if you get hired. At that point it miiiight be ok to tell HR, look, I noticed these things – make of it what you will. But not sending is a good plan A.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This is good advice for most observations about other people’s language usage. Even if your observations about their errors are sound (and often they are not), saying them out loud usually is only about feeling good about yourself, at the expense of being a jerk. This is a bad tradeoff. Stick to silently judging and a discreet feeling of smug superiority.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      It will land as snarky.

      There is a nonzero number of hiring managers who would think “Snark! Love it! Ha ha!” But I believe it’s a small minority, and you need this minority to include the entire hiring committee and anyone with input. And to pray like heck that the person who wrote the poor description is either otherwise completely uninvolved in hiring, or knows that their writing is poor and welcomes all post facto feedback to that effect, even from passing strangers.

      The urge to stand out leads to many great stories, but never for reasons that are good for the applicant. If someone remembers what made your application unique 3 years later, it’s probably not because it was good.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Lou Grant to Mary Richards: “You know what? You’ve got spunk. I hate spunk!”

    5. londonedit*

      Yep, I agree. There’s a tiny chance that the company might have intended it as some sort of secret test, but in the vast majority of cases it’ll be a simple mistake – I work in book publishing and while editorial tests are a standard part of the interview process, and you’ll be rejected outright if your CV/cover letter has a slew of errors, companies never use ‘secret’ mistakes in job adverts as a test for applicants. That just doesn’t seem fair. There’s also the fact that a lot of companies use recruitment agencies to find candidates, and their editorial standards might not be quite as rigorous. Mistakes happen, and the risk of looking like a know-it-all is too high if you point them out. There’s nothing more annoying as an editor than receiving a smug email/letter from someone who’s read one of the books you’ve published and ‘just wants to point out’ that they spotted six errors in the text and would like to offer their services as a proofreader, seeing as ours clearly aren’t up to scratch. We’re always looking for good proofreaders, but that’s not the way to start a professional relationship.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        And if the company did intend it as some sort of test, that may say something about the company culture. I don’t think I’d want to work somewhere that thinks it’s normal and okay to embed hidden tests everywhere like traps.

        If a healthy, functional company wants to test your editing skills, they’ll give you an editing test and tell you that’s what it is.

        1. Unaccountably*

          One of my coworkers found an error in an equation and asked if I’d put it there on purpose to see if he found it. I said no, because (a) that would be really shady, (b) our job here is to get work done and not to put roadblocks in the way of getting it done, and (c) why? No, seriously, why? Do I look like I have time? Are we living in one of those tedious games where you have to find all the hidden teapots before you get to go to the next level?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            New explanation for 2020: We have failed to find all the hidden teapots and cannot move to the next level until we do.

    6. KayDeeAye*

      Yes, pointing out those errors will almost certainly not land well. I too would be sorely tempted, but it almost invariably comes across as snotty and smug.

      Also, there is, IMO, such a thing as kopyediting karma, and the way it works is, if you point out the errors of others when it is not your business to do so, you are almost certain to make an error yourself in the very near future, possibly even while you’re pointing out the error. Bear that in mind! I am only half kidding.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        You misspelled “copyediting carma.”

        But seriously, this is a routine occurrence with denunciations of the passive voice. It is perfectly normal and nearly unavoidable to use the passive voice in English, and most people who denounce it lack a clear understanding of what it actually is. Hilarity ensues.

    7. nobadcats*

      I agree. When you’re interviewing, you’re hoping to be invited in. So don’t edit the invitation!

      I’m an Editor/Copyeditor in educational publishing that runs a team of freelance CEs. I’ve always got my eye out for new people in case one of my peeps needs to take some time off or rotate onto another team in our organization. I would roll my eyes and toss any resume or writing sample that edited a page or two of one of our products, unless I specifically asked for that during the interview process.

    8. linger*

      Yep. All that a badly-edited job description tells you is … the company needs a copy-editor. Which the job description tells you explicitly anyway. The description itself, however, is not a task for you to complete, because you don’t work there yet.

  20. Viette*

    Letter #1: I think it’s reasonable to expect that some/many of OP1’s luxury beauty industry coworkers are going to view makeup tips as interesting and engaging. They work there in part because they find this stuff appealing, and they like talking about it with each other.

    That’s not crazy. Many of the commenters here clearly also enjoy talking about it! There are a whole bunch of skincare and makeup tip comments already. People who think this stuff is interesting want to talk about it and swap tips. It’s a lifestyle choice.

    Coworkers have mistakenly assumed OP1 is interested, too, because of their shared industry. I think that it may continue to come up as a part of the culture, and OP1 may not find they fit into it in the end — or they might eventually be known for just not being into makeup even though they work there. If I were OP1 I would actively try to seek out other people like me at the company and see if I have a community, and also see how they’re treated by everyone else. That would help me decide if there’s a space for me, and what kind of space it is.

    1. straws*

      This is the most useful comment on this that I think I’ve read. My sister is an esthetician and they totally geek out over the smallest things. I’m more the type of person that feels accomplished if I manage to wash my face in a day. I do not share their passion, but I do have skin issues, so I don’t mind all the advice they offer up, but I could definitely see the excited monologues wearing thin if I weren’t open to the help with my own condition. If OP is working with good people, I think it might be worth trying a response along the lines of “Thanks, but I’m fine and not looking for advice” (I’m not great with wording, so maybe a little more polished than that!) Presumably they have plenty of other people with their shared interest to gush over and share tips with. And, if they’re interested in the industry in general, just not applied to themselves, maybe a redirect to discussing tips/products as they apply to the other person or to “people in general” could help too.

    2. metadata minion*

      I’m really fascinated by this perspective. Among people who are really into skin care, is it actually not considered rude to go “hey, you have blemishes; want ideas to fix them?”. I could understand it just being shared-interest if someone was raving about a new moisturizer they’d tried, or swapping eyeliner technique or something, but pointing out someone else’s “flaws” seems incredibly insulting to me.

      1. Anyfizz*

        Depends. I used to work in this industry while living abroad, and it was super common for people there to comment on skin, whether they were asking “what do you use” or “have you tried this?” It most likely is not “wow, your skin isn’t great… you should do xyz.” I personally would never comment on someone’s skin unless there were other circumstances at play, but it’s definitely a part of the culture of this industry.

    3. BigHairNoHeart*

      This is such an interesting perspective, thank you for mentioning it! The way people are talking to OP is very obviously rooted in the culture of the workplace, but I was absolutely interpreting it as people trying to coax OP into wearing makeup to fit in better. The idea that they might actually just be trying to make casual conversation to connect with the OP (and not realizing how poorly it’s landing because it probably goes over well with others) seems plausible now that you mention it–and is potentially a lot easier to navigate for OP if true.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      Good observation. It would be like being an accountant for a professional sports team. You don’t need to be a fan to do the job, but you have to figure that you will be around sports talk all day.

  21. Storm in a teacup*

    LW1 – I can appreciate the wanting not to wear make up and feeling misgendered. I think the luxe beauty industry is one that attracts a lot of people that have a passion for it, even in back office roles. Do people comment to each other too on products or just to you? It may be a part of the overall culture and an area of small talk for a lot of employees so may not just be you who gets this ‘advice’?
    Is there an LGBTQ+ group at your work or in your industry you can get involved with? They may have some helpful advice and tips to navigate.
    Another option is to ask a trusted manager re: appearance. If it’s only peers commenting and managers have no issue, ignore them.
    Finally if you do want to do something, look at skincare as a potential, more gender neutral option.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I imagine this is the case. Generally people sort of get into fashion and beauty industry because they love it and the products and lifestyle, and so you’re probably going to see more people wearing those products.

      But if you don’t like or want to wear makeup then just don’t wear it. Simple as that.
      Feel free to ignore comments or shut them down.

  22. Sounds like a movie with Meryl Streep*

    Andrea, how did you end up working at Runway magazine?

    1. TPS reporter*

      Hehe. Also I thought maybe a Bartelby approach could be good here. “Hey girl why don’t you use this lotion for your under eye bags?’ “I prefer not to.”

      It has to be super annoying working in this environment where your appearance is constantly picked at.

  23. SelinaKyle*

    OP1 I used to work in the beauty industry,
    It was in my contracts that I wear a full face of makeup including 2 eyeshadows, nail varnish not
    chipped and if you dyed or permed your hair you had to keep up to it every 6 weeks. I have since worked in industries that would be weird and a lot don’t wear makeup.
    Even thought it’s wrong I’m not surprised people are commenting on the fact your not wearing minimal makeup at least. Sorry, it may be the wrong industry for you as I do think you’ll be penalised in the future.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          They may not have *had* either male or enby employees. A lot of makeup-related companies end up very heavily female-dominated.

          1. Ash*

            Not at the top. Executives are almost always men even in women’s-interest industries.

          2. quill*

            If they were sufficiently large it’s basically impossible that they didn’t have any male employees… if the male employees had contractual grooming expectations, it was likely MUCH less involved. Possibly only something about acceptable styles of facial hair.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I was assuming there wasn’t a contract for non-binary employees– what I meant to do was point out that “Oh, you’re in beauty so you just have to accept that you’ll be expected to wear make-up” is a position which default genders OP as female. Male employees in the beauty industry do not live with the same expectation (except in a few very customer-facing sales roles), so non-binary ones shouldn’t either.

    1. Unaccountably*

      If I had to keep my nail polish unchipped, I would be fired by the end of the day even if I’d done my nails that morning.

      1. Polish*

        Do you use regular nail polish? If you want, you should look into dip powder. It’s a nail polish that’s a powder. It lasts like 3 – 4 week without chipping. Sometimes longer but of course your nails will grow out.
        Gel nail polish could also work but I’ve had some bad experiences with it peeling off right away so I would suggest using the powder. They even sell powder kits you can use at home but you have to make sure to really file down the powder so it looks good. Also, I think the home one doesn’t last as long as if you do it in store.

      2. quill*

        If I had to keep unchipped nail polish on I would expect to be reimbursed for everything related to that as a business expense.

        And also I would be highly distracted because I loathe the feeling (but only on my fingernails)

    2. Nanani*

      That’s awful. I hope they paid for all your products and had a salon you could use on company time then!
      That would be the only scenario where that would be even remotely okay, and even then.

  24. Anonymous Panda*

    OP5 you have my sympathies, you are me from a mirror dimension. A year ago I too took a job which felt more in line with my background and interests, I had been approached as they needed “a unicorn” and “a clone of our head of technology in NA”. I was very flattered, it was a huge bump, and my current company were cracking under intense shareholder pressure to support other parts of the parent company’s businesses.

    A few months in, I came to the same realisation you did – the company was absolute chaos, a mismanaged, unruly disaster of extremely clever people who could not be reined in. I did my best, but while I was trying to push for large changes (like a working email / calendar system), they were busy doing creative work that brought in even more problems. I also realised that they did not know what they actually needed from my role.

    Luckily I have since escaped! And I really encourage you to do the same, before you spend months of your life fighting losing battles like I did.

  25. Metal Librarian*

    Regarding #2, I once (while young and inexperienced) did this when applying for a proofreading job, as I thought the company had deliberately included spelling and grammar mistakes in the hope that potential candidates would catch them! Reading Alison’s response I feel a little embarrassed at my assumption.

    1. Unaccountably*

      Sincere question: what made you think a company would do that as opposed to just giving someone an editing task?

      1. rubble*

        I probably would have done the same thing pre discovering this site, and I would have thought of it as like, an additional thing to stand out, while still expecting to get some kind of test task later in the process.

      2. Metal Librarian*

        As I mentioned, I didn’t have a lot of experience in the professional world at the time; most of my previous jobs had been casual/seasonal work in retail and tourism. I’d not long graduated from uni, and hadn’t quite shaken off years of being (wrongly) told that intelligence would get me a good job. It made complete sense to me that a company would do something like that to test applicants’ observational skills.

        1. Nanani*

          Honestly, it wouldn’t be unheard of for -profs- to put this kind of thing in their tests and quizzes. Intentionally confusing wording to catch who’s “really paying attention” and such is a thing, as are distractor answers on multiple choice tests that are the correct answer if you misread a common word as another common word.

          So, no shame in a recent graduate not realizing that normally, employers don’t do that sort of thing.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        If you’ve previously worked for someone who plays mind games like that, I can see a warped sense of thinking “it’s a secret test!” But also, if it turned out to really be a secret test, you don’t wanna work there.

    2. Nanani*

      Gimmick ads like “we need a designer :(” scribbled in crayon have done more harm than good for job hunters, especially inexperienced ones.

  26. SavedFromLorna*

    LW1, I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but I’m surprised that you didn’t expect to encounter this while working in “the luxury beauty industry.” From your letter, it sounds like you didn’t anticipate people working in the beauty industry to be appearance-oriente,d but at the risk of sounding condescending, I’m not sure why you didn’t.

    In any case, you’ll certainly find that many of your male-identified peers (to say nothing of those who identify other ways) also use light makeup and concealer. You’ll also find that as skincare and beauty professionals, they’re…concerned with skincare and beauty! So, yes, they’ll comment on yours, welcome or not. I would not take it to heart or ascribe any malice to it, but it’s very likely that these comments and similar ones will continue as long as you remain in your industry.

    1. SavedFromLorna*

      Oops. A million typos. I do not work in the text beauty industry, clearly!

    2. El l*

      Yeah, totally agree!

      To some extent this is just…a particular industry thing. Even if it weren’t in their self interest to care about it, people who join the luxury beauty industry are more likely than the average person to care about skincare and to have an eye for it on everyone they meet. Some comments may be knocking you down a peg, some comments are likely “oh, honey, let me help you,” whatever – in any case the person making the comments is hardwired to notice the skin condition of every person they meet.

      Whether they point out their observations to civilians is less certain, but they may expect you to care…just because you work in the industry and they assume.

      Nothing personal. But it’s not going away.

  27. Asenath*

    LW 1 – I strongly suspect that, as Alison says, there are industries in which using makeup is the norm, and not using it will make you stand out in an undesirable way. The fact that this is the beauty industry, and that the subject has been mentioned, makes it seem likely you’re in one of them. Obviously, not all workplaces are the same – I (female) have not worn makeup since my days of experimentation with it when I was in my teens, and never had a co-worker hint that maybe I should. Some people I worked with (mostly but not only women) used makeup, although generally in a very low-key style – which again, might not be typical of those in the beauty industry – some didn’t. I never had the sense it was a big deal, but that was in only a few workplaces and may not be typical experiences. I certainly heard about others (ones I never applied to) that employees represented the company and therefore had to dress and be groomed in a certain style, including makeup for women (or, as is said now “female-presenting”). If there is someone in your workplace you could ask privately, you can get guidance on whether concealer etc is a big deal with your workplace in general, or only with those who mentioned it to you, and act accordingly. Only you can decide how important the makeup issue is, if it turns out you are in a place where using it is an important norm.

  28. Safety First*

    #3, I would encourage you to look at the numbers for the HDHP before you dismiss it out of hand. My work offers both a PPO and a HDHP, and the guidance they gave was that the HDHP was usually best for people with very high or very low medical expenses. I was dismissive of this claim (perhaps mostly because of the name), but when I ran the numbers, it actually turned out to be similar. Here are some factors to consider:

    1) The deductible on a PPO plan is not the true maximum cost. There are still copays (especially RX copays) until you hit your out out-of-pocket maximum (OOPM). Of course, this is true of the HDHP too, but the OOPM is usually closer to the deductible. In both cases, if you have dependants, you should also pay attention to how the individual and family OOPM are structured. In some plans, you have to hit the OOPM for each member separately, which can make your worst case costs much higher. Our HDHP OOPM switched to a family max, which was what made it a viable alternative costwise.

    2) The HDHP comes with a health savings account which functions a lot like an IRA or 401k. The money that goes into that account is pretax, so it is goes 20-30% further than equivalent dollars you would pay post-tax for a PPO. That money is yours in perpetuity, so if you dont spend it, you can roll it over and continued to invest it. The HSA has its own separate contribution limits, so if you are looking to save money beyond your IRA or 401k limits, the tax benefits are substantial. Granted, you can only spend it on health care expenses, but those are only going to go up as you age (and within the current environment). You can also spend it on a wide variety or things that are health related but non-doctor, like over the counter medicine, eyeglasses , etc.

    Of course, the devil is in the details, so it is worth trying to document your healthcare expenses and run the numbers to see how it would be for you personally.

    1. HSA*

      Important to note too that HSA funds can be withdrawn for any use without penalty (but will be taxable as income) once you hit 65.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Agreed on all points. It’s rather surprising how much less expensive an HDHP can be, even (or especially) for people with high medical expenses.

      A bit of a nitpicky clarification on point 2: After age 65, withdrawals from an HSA don’t even have to be used for medical expenses. Withdrawals that aren’t for medical expenses are taxed (but not penalized), so in that way they’re like an IRA or 401k. Withdrawals for medical expenses aren’t even taxed. And unlike 401ks and IRAs, HSAs don’t have required minimum distributions (the IRS doesn’t want your tax-deferred money to stay tax-deferred forever, so at a certain age you have to start taking some of that 401k and IRA money out), so you can just leave the HSA money where it is until you need it for medical expenses. And this is the U.S., so…yeah, odds are you’re eventually going to have lots of medical expenses.

    3. L.H. Puttgrass*

      BTW, even for an HDHP, a $5000 deductible seems really high—so high that I’m wondering if the plan even offers an HSA or is just the cheapest health coverage the employer could find. (For comparison, the minimum deductible to qualify as an HDHP is $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family.)

      1. Parenthesis Dude*

        $5000 is high but not outrageously so if the premiums are low. I’m presuming this is for a family and not an individual. For example, one company I interviewed at had a $5k deductible and a $6k out of pocket max. Not great, but not terrible and the premiums were pretty low.

        In this case though, the premiums are much higher than what this person is paying currently. And two weeks of vacation isn’t enough to attract high ranking people. I suspect that there are different tiers of benefits, or something is wrong, because this doesn’t add up.

        1. LW#3*

          LW#3 here and it’s $5000 per person, $7500 for the family deductible. It’s also $200 a paycheck for the premium for me/my spouse. Prescriptions are only covered after the deductible is met. I have some pretty high cost prescriptions and I’m worried I’ll have to pay for them up front while I wait for my HSA to build up enough coverage to meet the deductible.

          This should never be a part of deciding who to work for! UGH!

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            Wow. Is the employer paying any part of that premium? Because unless the OOP maximum is also $5000 for individual coverage and all expenses are covered after the deductible is met…wow, that’s crummy insurance. Especially as the only option. For a lot of money.

            I guess that premium isn’t quite so expensive that you might as well go to the Marketplace and get your own coverage expensive…but it sure doesn’t sound far off, either.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I’m currently on a HDHP with a $6,000 deductible. Granted, there is no out of pocket premium to the employee but it’s basically like not having insurance :(

    4. JustaTech*

      Yes to this. I was adamant that I never wanted a HDHP, and the first few years my company offered one it really was terrible, but now the deductible is only $500 higher than the PPO. Also, I’m in a financial position to deal with the out of pocket costs at the beginning of the year.

      It took a lot of spreadsheets to convince me it would work out, but so far it’s been fine.

  29. WellRed*

    Ah the old “should I showcase myself by putting out their typo?” Question. The answer is always no. You’ll come across as nitpicking.

  30. Paul Pearson*

    I do love how Allison is not afraid to say when somewhere is irredeemable and it’s time to run for the parachutes! There’s such an urge to constantly fix the unfixable, it’s refreshing and empowering to hear acceptance you shouldn’t feel obliged to try and fix everything

  31. ijustworkhere*

    LW #1 I don’t know for sure if it will impact your career at this organization, but as Allison says, if you are noticeably out of sync with office expectations, it might. It is definitely worth talking to someone you trust about it.

    It’s disappointing that someone’s work product might be overridden by their appearance, but it happens in many workplaces across America. You don’t wear the suit, or you have noticeable and unusual tattoos, or you wear jeans, or.. or… or…..It’s exhausting…

  32. Ailsa McNonagon*

    LW1, I worked for probably the biggest luxury beauty company in the world, and there was a grooming and appearance clause written into my contract- it specified that I had to use X number of this company’s beauty products every working day. I worked in a beauty hall, so I’m not sure if it was the same for corporate colleagues but when I used to go to events at head office everyone working there looked exceptionally well-groomed.

    You might want to check your contract to see if there is dress code/ grooming style guide to follow. Even if there isn’t, it might be worth considering some of the tips your colleagues have offered- as Alison says, if you’re going against one set of norms (appearance) you might need to be reeeeeally good at delivering on another set of norms (work product) to balance it out. And it might even be the case that even if you ARE amazingly good at your job your refusal to meet industry norms marks you out as not a good fit culturally- the beauty industry is not forgiving, in my experience…

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I think this kind of clause makes sense in some positions in some industries (for example, working in anything remotely public-facing, marketing, or brand strategy seems like a reasonable place to need to use and understand the product where, say, accounting would not), but I’m always curious – did you get a discount? stipend? anything? to make up for the fact that switching products for work can cost a significant amount of money?

    2. Nanani*

      That’s absolutely maddening to me.
      If I was in charge of the world, any such clause would include a makeup artist applying the products for you, as part of your paid work hours, free of charge.
      Like actors have makeup artists before going on stage or camera right? Same should apply to ANY job that wants people groomed a certain way.

      1. rubble*

        lots of jobs have grooming requirements that would make a policy like that a bit…… silly. sometimes grooming standards aren’t for looks, they’re for health and safety – a company shouldn’t have to pay a stylist to tie factory worker’s hair back!

        1. Nanani*

          Are you serious? Are you seriously pretending that tying hair out of the way for lab work is the same as an appearance clause right now?

          Safety isn’t grooming and there is no way on earth you don’t know that perfectly well.

          1. rubble*

            uh. I guess we have very different definitions of grooming then. because to me, something as simple as brushing your hair or cleaning the sleep gunk out of your eyes is grooming. I would never define grooming as just make-up – maybe I’m wrong but I have always heard it used the way I use it, not the way I think you’re using it.

            in your comment you referred to “ANY job that wants people groomed a certain way” which is broader than just make-up requirements. that is what I was responding to.

        2. Nameless in Customer Service*

          How can being required to wear multiple makeup products every day be about health and safety? I would really like an example because I cannot imagine how requiring an extensive makeup regimen makes anyone safer.

          1. rubble*

            I was responding to the suggestion that “ANY job that wants people groomed a certain way” should pay for it. not just jobs that require make-up.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Were these products provided at company expense? If not, did office workers have to bring in their own pencils and paper?

  33. Morticia(she/her)*

    LW#3 I think this is largely what the Great Resignation is all about: employers who don’t properly compensate their employees. After looking over their deficits package, noping out might be the best option. How much money could possibly compensate for 15 years of 2 weeks vacation? If the increased health care costs aren’t a dealbreaker, though, if they agreed to a new salary request, and you feel you could get valuable experience, you could look at it as a short term plan, and jump ship in a couple of years. But it doesn’t speak well of the company that they think this is acceptable. I almost put “acceptable in 2022” but I realised that just because something has been the status quo doesn’t actually mean it has been acceptable.

  34. Wednesday*

    LW 2, don’t do it. We recently had this happen for a position where we requested a writing sample and the candidate revised a piece we published. Admittedly it was an improvement on the original, and them doing it didn’t bar them from consideration, but it cast some doubts on their judgement/tact.

  35. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (excluded from party) – it’s unfortunate that the behind-the-scenes people are excluded, although you may be able to get yourself invited by using Alison’s wording or similar next time…

    However, what’s with “younger” employees being left out? Is that on the basis of role somehow (like that the younger people are typically in roles that wouldn’t go to this) or is it truly about age? I think that’s potentially more problematic.

  36. BackOnTheMarket*

    LW3: please think long and hard about taking a job with a significant reduction in vacation time. I did and I regret it daily – I am actively seeking another job mainly because of the lack of vacation time.

    1. KRM*

      And to add to this LW3, I just took a new job with slightly less compensation in part because the vacation benefits are much better! So for sure be prepared to run numbers and don’t be afraid to say “Your benefits are not in line with what I currently have, and I would need X in compensation to make up for that. Is that something you can meet?” and do ask if you can get additional vacation compensation (TWO WEEKS FOR FIFTEEN YEARS, ARE THEY KIDDING) AS WELL as salary bump for health ins purposes. Maybe you won’t get it, but maybe also that helps them see how out of line their current benefits are!

  37. anonymous73*

    #3 for me 2 weeks of vacation would be a deal breaker. I personally would try and negotiate for more time (and honestly having to wait 15 years to accrue more time would be a red flag for me). And while you can’t change their healthcare plan, asking for more money can be justified by the higher cost of medical expenses. Just be clear on where you stand and what you’re willing to accept and stick to it, even if that means walking away.
    #5 it sounds like they want a happy happy joy joy atmosphere and nobody wants to enforce ANY processes or rules. Get out now!

    1. Ashley*

      2 weeks would be a dealbreaker for me, too. I have 4 weeks and I use up every single day every year. I value that time off and I am having a hard time putting a dollar amount that I would be willing to accept as a tradeoff.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I was able to negotiate to where I would have been if I’d stayed with OldJob when I started CurrentJob. Mostly because I’d had enough time in at OldJob that I wasn’t in the mood to give up a week’s vacation and said as much. Definitely worth asking for it!

      2. KRM*

        My old job was 15 days, which wasn’t terrible, but my new job is 21 days (for the first 5 years, then you earn more) plus summer hours between memorial and labor day. We had tried to get the old job to implement summer hours, because so many companies around here do it, and they were really resistant for some reason. And they are definitely losing people to jobs with better benefits (among other things).

      3. Drsgon*

        Agreed. I considered making one more job change before retirement because I wouldn’t have minded downsizing into a smaller office setting. Now I realize the jobs I interviewed and got passed over for, wouldn’t have been worth the reduced vacation time.

  38. Chris*

    LW3: In addition to Alison’s phrasing on the salary, I’d also recommend asking if they have any flexibility on the vacation. Many companies do, especially when it comes to more experienced hires. For instance, rather than starting me a the “0 years of experience” line on the vacation chart when I was hired, my current job credited me with 10 years of experience, enough to get me up to 3.5 weeks.

    1. Lavender Gooms*

      I was coming to the comments for this take. I’ve negotiated vacation a few times—small businesses especially are often more flexible on that than on salary because they don’t see/feel the effect of it right away (not until you leave and they have to pay it out!—in CA, anyway). I often recognize they need to start me at the two weeks, but can I move to the next tier after one or two years? Be creative.

  39. Blue Glass*

    “I’ve had a number of peers comment on my skin. It is subtle, but it’s suggestions on hiding or covering eye bags or acne marks.”

    There’s nothing subtle about specific suggestions to hide eye bags and acne. And there’s no reason to believe that it’s only your peers who note that you’re not wearing the industry products.

    Maybe watch The Devil Wears Prada again.

  40. Grits McGee*

    Hi LW 1- I am also someone who hates having any kind makeup/lotion/powder/etc on my face.* Large lens/thick frame eyeglasses cover up my dark under eyes/eye bags pretty effectively. When I wear more artsy/unique frames, I’ve found that they tend to draw people’s attention away from the rest of my face pretty effectively.

    Statement glasses may not be feasible for your situation, but hopefully someone may find it helpful!

    *My friends make fun of me because I usually dress like a beekeeper to go outside rather than use sunscreen or bug spray :)

    1. Emmy Noether*

      It’s so refreshing to me to hear from other people who also hate stuff on their skin (I commented about it above). I was the kid that avoided any “let’s paint glitter butterflies on your faces for carnaval! FUN!” activities like the absolute plague, and always felt so alone in my aversion.

    2. Nanani*

      I feel the same!
      It’s great for my friends who treat makeup as self expression to be able to do that. It’s not great that it’s expected and treated as a negative to not do it.

  41. kina lillet*

    LW1, no, you don’t have to wear concealer or any makeup whatsoever.

    If everyone is pretty appearance-focused, it does require some time, attention, and expense to also present a polished appearance. I guess it’d probably smooth the way for you if you’re not the lone schlub in a sea of Anna Wintours.

    Basically if you can find other ways to look sharp, try them—a more obviously-styled hairdo, maybe, or very put-together outfits. If there’s a sort of defined style you feel comfortable in that doesn’t ask for makeup, lean into that more too, possibly.

    That said, I don’t think you’ll find a way to fully relieve the pressure to wear makeup, I’m sorry. Being polished otherwise will probably help, but makeup is still ‘mandatory’ in many many ways, and companies in the beauty industry don’t have a vested interest in changing that.

    1. Generic Name*

      This is what I came here to say. Dress impeccably and have your hair intentionally styled (meaning avoid styles that look wash-n-wear, no messy buns/bed head/shaggy hair). Get your clothes tailored to fit your body. If you wear men’s shirts, the store will often make certain alterations for free. If you have glasses wear stylish frames. I echo the other comments suggesting you look to see if there is a LGBTQ+ affinity group and ask folks how they handle gendered beauty expectations at your company.

  42. TyphoidMary*

    Hi LW1,

    I’m nonbinary, and I just wanted to add: when I have had to perform gendered professionalism/respectability, I’ve helped reduce some of my dysphoria by thinking of it as a drag performance. I don’t know if it will help you, and it might not work as a long-term strategy, but I thought I’d offer it up as one of the tools in my toolbox.

    Best of luck as you discern how you want to move forward!

    1. Generic Name*

      Aw, bless. I’m so sorry you had to wear a costume to make your way through society.

    2. TransmascJourno*

      I feel this so hard. That’s a tactic I used for a really long time. Sending solidarity vibes!

  43. Erika22*

    OP 1 – since Alison mentions some places you can get away with not wearing, say makeup, by wearing snazzier clothes, maybe you can try some blue light/non-prescription glasses that look really nice and are somewhat trendy? I have terrible dark shadows under my eyes (thanks genetics!) and don’t really care for concealer, but when I wear my glasses it’s much harder to tell because the glasses obscure your face to a degree.

  44. Hannah Lee*

    LW4, hang on … “After the pandemic…”?

    That being said, you not getting an invite may have been an oversight or it may have been intentional. Were any direct peers included? Do you find yourself left off other things? Are you included when it’s NPW (ie stuff that needs doing but wouldn’t improve your chances of recognition and advancement) but not on projects the exec suite cares about? Do you get the sense you’re an employee on a good track at the company… ie they treat you like they plan to develop your skills, network in preparation for bigger, more visible roles?
    Since you’re in a behind the scenes role now, depending on the company, someone may be slotting you as that for the long term, and giving assignments, networking opportunities, spiffs to others they expect to be rising stars.

    The first thing to do is talk to your manager about wanting to be included in this event. 1) that signals that you’re not a head-down or complacent worker bee and 2) it opens a conversation about what you may need to do to get invited to the next one.

    1. iliketoknit*

      I assumed “after the pandemic” was shorthand for “after the pandemic lockdowns/remote work.” For better or for worse, most places that shut down offices have opened back up again.

    2. AZad*

      As a person that plans these sorts of events. Yes, you may have been overlooked but doubtful, if it’s a long-standing event, you simply weren’t included. Now if this is something important to you, yes bring it up but watch how you frame it. For example, say “if it’s appropriate I’d like to attend the event next year. I think it would be a great opportunity because of XYZ”. This way you’ll get your answer of whether your level is appropriate. Trust me you do not want to be at an event that is not meant for you. As awful as that sounds.

      Also, keep in mind, no matter the budget or size of the company there has to be a cut-off somewhere due to venue capacity, budgeting, or just managing the logistics.

  45. Beatrice Severn*

    No edits on job postings, ever! I once posted an ad on (it was 20+ years ago), looking for proofreaders in a hurry for a big project. Unfortunately — in a hurry! — I made a typo, didn’t proofread before uploading, and then couldn’t edit the posting to fix it. A lot of applicants gleefully pointed out the typo. Guess what: I’m a very experienced editor, and I have a way of judging people, accurately, based on their syntax, vernacular, and general tone. None of the ones who “thought it was a test” got hired. I had a long, productive working relationship with many of the ones who were experienced enough professionals to know “when not to edit.”

    Same goes for writing to publishing houses, applying for copyediting/proofreading positions by listing all the typos the wannabe applicant found in a book. First of all, professional proofreading involves a lot more than just catching typos. Second, embarrassing a prospective employer never results in an offer of money to do it on a daily basis. A good deal of editing and proofreading consists of sweet-talking the authors into accepting your suggestions and corrections. If you have no tact, you are not qualified.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      I’m now flashing back to a library book I once checked out that someone had pulled out their red pen and edited.

      When I pointed it out when I returned the book, it was obvious this wasn’t the first…

  46. MaryB*

    LW5- I started a job two months ago and my director’s favorite phrase is also something like “we’re building the plane in the air.” I specifically told the recruiter and everybody I interviewed with that I was leaving my previous job for more responsibility and because I was looking for *stability.* I was assured this was exactly what I was looking for, so the first time I heard her say it after I started, I was speechless. What a wild thing to say, especially without an immediate follow up explanation about what is urgently being done about it. She says it with a little laugh, and then proceeds with a conversation like that’s not a banana crackers thing to say and not address. Now my grand boss and boss have begun to say it too. When I gave my notice last week, grand boss said it again. I told him, “I prefer my aircraft pre-built.” I’m nervous about taking a new job so fast and worried it could be another bait and switch. But this confirms I’ve made the right decision getting out of here!

    1. RB*

      I feel like the Building the Plane phrase should only be used in the context of a discussion around This is how we’re operating but it’s not ok or sustainable and here’s our plan to improve. It should never be used with any sense of pride attached to it.

      1. the+cat's+ass*

        Agreed. My DH has has TWO “we’re building the plane as we fly it” jobs in succession this year and they were both flaming dumpster fires, to the point that he’s consulting the DOL to get unpaid wages! So unless you are a fellow chaos muppet, dump this job.

  47. theletter*


    The assumption in almost any consumer industry is that the employees get access to the products or services, enjoy the products or services, and successfully use the products the or services. Employees, in almost every department, are almost always representing the company to those they know personally. This is why clothing retailers ask/encourage sales reps to wear the wares when on the floor – the sales reps demonstrate the value of the product just by using it.

    It’s not that you have to be completely devoted to the products they sell, but ideally every employee will believe in the product the company produces.

    There’s probably an employee discount/sample pack you can get, and that might be what your peers are hinting towards. It’s less about conforming to gender expectations and more about understanding and demonstrating your appreciation of the product.

    1. Nanani*

      That’s literally not true, outside of very specific roles like demos and certain types of sales.
      Several other commenters have talked about it things like working in mortgage accounting without having one or working with trucks wihtout being able to drive.

      You can also believe in the company by way of knowing what’s in the product and that all regulations are being followed even if you don’t use the product. Beauty is not an exception.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      ” Employees, in almost every department, are almost always representing the company to those they know personally. This is why clothing retailers ask/encourage sales reps to wear the wares when on the floor – the sales reps demonstrate the value of the product just by using it.”
      Not only are those examples completely different but they are different from what the OP is asking.

      When a family member worked for Macy’s I didn’t see her as “representing the company” unless she was working. Thats really weird and wrong to say that you see people you know personally, like friends and family members, as the place they work/ role.

      And it makes sense for sales reps to wear the clothing they are marketing. It’s a marketing tool they use. But it doesn’t make sense for someone who is not public-facing or has any interactions with the customers to have to be forced to wear something they don’t like.

    3. Generic Name*

      I think maybe you’re mixing up expectations for people-facing roles and retail positions and those for corporate “back office” positions. My brother in law used to work for Target corporate. He did not have to wear a red shirt to work every day.

    4. pancakes*

      That’s a huge generalization and it isn’t necessary or helpful to go that big to advise the letter writer.

      With regard to “Employees, in almost every department, are almost always representing the company to those they know personally” – no. What you are saying is that people are never not working. That is not correct, and if you want it to be seen as correct, you’re going to meet a lot of disagreement.

  48. Person from the Resume*

    LW#1 Will it negatively impact my career if I don’t put on concealer every time I go into the office?

    I think it will. kina lillet says above that the beauty industry does not have vested interest in changing attitudes about the necessity of makeup, but I’d go one further. The luxury beauty industry needs to convince people/women their products are mandatory and essential to stay in business. They want to convince people mostly women it is necessary to hide all flaws and then alter their skin/face to meet a standard that’s unrealistic without makeup. If their own employees don’t buy into what they’re selling, then they aren’t going to be able to sell to customers. You coworkers have bought into this narrative. You’re just a bad fit for this industry. It seems to me your values don’t align with theirs. I’d recommend that you start looking for a new job in a different industry because I do think your unwillingness to embrace beauty products is going to hinder your career at that company.

    1. Nanani*

      But LW is in an office, not a sales role where they need to convince people to “live the brand” or anything like that.

      Would you really say this about other industries? Would you tell someone who works in soft drinks that they have to drink the cola and that it would be a bad fit if they didn’t like the taste?
      OR is it just that somehow beauty and makeup feels different thanks to the multiton pressure of cultural expectations about women’s faces?

      1. rubble*

        I used to work at McDonald’s and yes, it was expected that we have genuine opinions about most of the food, not just that we could describe it to a customer/lie about what we recommend. I was definitely looked at differently when my coworkers found out I hadn’t eaten McDonald’s in about 10 years before I started working there, and had no idea what 90% of the stuff was. it was uncomfortable for the first 6+months I worked there because of it.

        unfortunately because we had no employee lockers to store food from home and there was nowhere else close to get food, I became quite familiar with the menu eventually!

        1. rubble*

          and all the managers and corporate office people I met while working there seemed to genuinely enjoy the food, too.

        2. Nanani*

          But are you in the restaurant serving the food? becuase I would be very surprised if you were IT at McD’s HQ and people thought it was weird that you didn’t eat it. How would they even know?
          It’s not the same as being a cashier in the restaurant at all.
          Just like LW1 isn’t selling beauty products, they work in an office for a beauty company.

          1. rubble*

            no, I did work in the restaurant. but as I said, all the people I met who worked in the corporate offices had the same attitude.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I’m not saying it’s right; I’m talking about how things work in the realt world rather the the ideal one. But, yes, in some ways you do need to live the brand or at least not obviously favor the competitor.

      For example if you work for coca cola, you don’t have to drink coke. You can drink all manner of other things water, cofee, tea, but you best not walk into your office in the coca cola building every week with a six pack of pepsi because you prefer pepsi. If you work for Ford, you’re probably better off not parking your brand new car from a competing brand in the parking lot.

      There’s lots of stuff that not right, not ideal, but that doesn’t change the reality. The LW’s coworkers are on commenting on blemishes and suggesting that they wear concealer to cover them up. These coworkers and the management have opinions on how people’s faces look and should look and they are very likely going to allow that to influence their opinions about the LW’s work.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I worked briefly with Levi Strausst and rules said you could only wear onsite if it was Levi’s. You didn’t have to wear jeans, you could wear anything else, just not a competitor’s jeans. (Competing brand chinos were ok. No similar requirement for Dockers.) Brands have all sorts of expectations, stated and unstated.

  49. SloanGhost*

    LW1, I would be curious to know if any of the men you work with (assuming there ARE men) are wearing makeup–not a smoky eye, but a judicious application of concealer over dark circles and blemishes. It might or might not change your approach, since there are about half a dozen OTHER variables to account for, but…I would be curious.

    LW5, BAFFLING. Why hire you to change processes if they…don’t want to change the processes?

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      LW5: Because while they don’t want to change the process, they want the process to be changed. They want a new process to magically appear, and which everyone will instantly fall in love with. They are looking for magic so they try to hire a magician. Sadly, what they get is a human being.

    2. Wisteria*

      Re: men at LW1’s company

      I wondered that, too. I don’t know how they would know, though. Are a noticeable proportion of the men really clear skinned and alert looking (dark under-eye circles are frequently confused for tiredness)?

      Also, do the men participate in discussions about their own faces at a similar rate to women?

      The answers have no bearing on whether or not OP decides to do anything differently, but knowing that the attitude isn’t limited to women and female appearing people might change how they view the comments.

      1. Nanani*

        Even if they did have men in the office who were makeup enthusiast, that doesn’t change the fact that we live in a culture where makeup and related practices are heavily gendered the other way and an actual living non-binary person is going to be impacted by that.

  50. voluptuousfire*

    #2–if you’re itching to correct the job description, do it but don’t send it to the company. That will definitely ding you!

    You can clean up the job description as an exercise or to amuse yourself but do not send it to the company. It very easily could be taken the wrong way. Years ago I recruited teachers for a test prep company and one candidate pointed out two errors in the invitation email to us. I fixed it but it definitely did color him a pedant.

  51. Observer*

    #1 – All I can say is that you almost certainly do need to do SOMETHING. Because you are in an industry whose very existence is about appearances.

    Focus on the things that are not so gendered, because it sounds like your company is highly appearance focused for everyone regardless of gender. And things like puffy eyes are likely to get a side eye in that kind of environment regardless of gender.

    Also, maybe it would help to up your wardrobe. And since you don’t want to feed into gender stereotypes, perhaps you could focus on stuff that doesn’t code as feminine, just noticeably good quality and well fitting. (It’s one of the few cases where I would seriously consider fashion brand logos if you can do that without messing up your budget.)

    It shouldn’t be this way. If you’re in a back office type of job, anything beyond neat and clean should not be an issue. But if you otherwise like the place and want a career there, or even want to stay there long enough that you’d get a reference from them, it’s to your benefit to deal with the heavy emphasis on appearance. Because while no one will give you a bad reference explicitly because you didn’t dress up, it is highly likely to color perceptions of you and you’ll be tarred with things that are vague and not quantifiable but still negative. Things like “standoffish”, “low energy” etc.

    1. pancakes*

      Brand logos are not perennially fashionable among fashion people. There are periods where those are really not happening, and when they are happening, not just any logo will do. I don’t think the letter writer needs to throw money at this particular issue that particular way.

      1. Observer*

        You’re right. If they do this they need to make sure that it’s the “right” brands. And I agree that they don’t have to do this. I suggested it as a way to somewhat play the game in a way that’s less gendered if they feel like it’s going to affect them more than they are willing to risk.

        Based on their additional information, I think it may not make a difference, though.

        1. pancakes*

          Yeah, their additional info seems quite good in terms of this hopefully not being an ongoing issue.

  52. Observer*

    #2 – Edits to the job posting.

    There is a saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but it’s not true. Same thing for “standing out”. This way of “standing out” will make you stand out in a really bad way. Don’t do it.

  53. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    So many people are writing and arguing thatOP#1 should up their skin care game and are giving tips about makeup when they specifically do not want to wear makeup.

    Let’s flip this and say that our nonbinary OP is in the fashion industry and their coworkers are hinting that they have to wear heels and nylons. I don’t think everyone would be telling the OP how to find comfy heels, etc. People need to stop with the skin care etc options and look at the question the OP is asking. Do I have to do this really gendered thing that I don’t feel comfortable with.

    1. Generic Name*

      I think some threads would absolutely turn into a discussion of where to find comfy heels…

    2. Nanani*

      We would absolutely see people arguing that X type of shoe “doesnt count” as a heel despite being completely unusable and unappealing to people who Don’t Wear Heels, 100%.

  54. ElizabethJane*

    LW1 – first, I get where you’re coming from. I haven’t worn makeup in 3 years and my skincare “routine” is “wash my face when I shower, use SPF daily” and I’m a cis woman. Some people don’t enjoy make up or skincare and that’s fine.

    That being said, I think you’re going to have to recognize that this may be a losing battle. I don’t agree with it but the expectation that anyone who leans even slightly feminine wear makeup in the luxury beauty industry seems to be a core part of the culture. Similar to suits being the norm in traditional corporate finance. The reality is I can do my job in sweats with my hair in a messy bun but if I take a job in that sector I’m going to have to get dressed and style myself in a way that I think is annoying.

    So I think step one would be reframing it as “This is just the way it is” – not because we have to accept every crappy thing but because that can help make it less personal.

    Step 2 I’d find ways to start changing it, but acknowledge that this will likely cost you some political capital.

    Step 3 I’d probably find expectations that are gender neutral and make sure I meet those and then work on combating the ones that are gendered. To stick with my finance example, if men can wear pants but women have to wear skirt suits, I’d put myself in a well-fitting pant suit. Everyone can wear pants. For you that may be something like “women wear full foundation and mascara and lipstick, men just have really trendy haircuts. And I’d make sure my hair was on-point.

    To be clear I don’t think any of this should matter because my looks don’t impact my job, but unfortunately we live in a society that sometimes (most of the time) disagrees. And we can fight that, we just need to be aware as we do it.

  55. CommanderBanana*

    LW#1, you don’t have to wear concealer. Is your appearance negatively affecting you at work? That depends on a lot of other factors. I got snotty comments at one job because I didn’t wear jeans and the company-branded, boxy, unisex-sized polo shirts on “casual Fridays.”

    Do you have to do anything about it? Not necessarily, unless your manager or a higher-up is telling you you need to. There are a lot of ways to look professional and not all of them involve having to wear makeup.

  56. Tex*

    LW#1 –

    It’s like a vegan working for a meat packing plant. Don’t be surprised that the employee lunch buffet is a pile of steaks and burgers with a side of potato salad with bacon. It’s just baked into the DNA of the company that beauty/skin-care is important. After meeting some people in the industry, I can guarantee that not only is this a job for most of them (esp marketing side) but it is their main hobby and passion as well.

    Will it affect you career trajectory? Well, if you are a back off office IT person, probably not. Maybe even not even a problem at the next level, but as you start becoming a point of contact for vendors, investors, customers, media, then it starts to become important as a representative of the company.

    As make up companies push into expanding into new markets such as for men and push make up for all, it is harder to dodge at least a passing interest in the company’s products. Personally, I would scoop up the free testing samples, give feedback on what does and does not work. Companies pay millions to get that sort of marketing information, having a not-interested person be a casual tester for some products would be a gift to the right marketing person who could harness that info (even basic sensory info on how it feels, your frustration with the bottles, etc.). You don’t have to wear a full face of make up everyday in order to participate in the company culture.

    1. Tex*

      To add – this is an industry where you have to look polished to succeed. It can include no make up , but your clothing and glasses/accessories are on-point. In the 90s, when the subtle no make-up make-up look was popular, it was a rule of thumb that groomed, perfectly coiffed hair and slightly elevated clothing was the counterpoint to the no/very subtle make up. It’s harder to look polished with no make up and very casual clothing.

  57. OP#1*

    Hi all, OP#1 here. Thank you for all your thoughtful words, and thank you Alison for sharing.

    To answer some questions, I work in IT and information management. I didn’t apply for the job – someone from their HR team reached out to me via LinkedIn, where my career background (arts and culture, education, non-profit) and not-made up face are visible.

    The interviews were via Zoom, and I looked the same in the interview as I do in-person (plain clothes, no make-up). I met my direct manager, HR, and an executive level individual.

    The luxury beauty company offered better pay and benefits than my prior, and the projects were more suitable for career growth.
    The beauty brand itself does not carry make-up (it carries hair and body, candles, perfumes, etc). I was clear about being a queer BIPOC and that I would actively seek to work with people like me, and I did not align with traditional European and American beauty norms.

    The make-up moments in the office were only a handful and sporatic (only when I’m in-person, once a week). The comments also came from people outside of my immediate team, and not from people who interviewed me or I work most closely with.

    The rest of the office has been highly supportive in other ways (such as peers using correct pronouns, or asking my opinion about models and being receptive to my suggestions for diverse skin tones and body shapes).
    Having worked in various industries, I find this environment more supportive towards people like me than arts and culture and education (I imagine it has to do with budget and organizational culture). The skin question stands out in contrast to all this positive support, which is why I thought the topic worth exploring and discussing.

    I am part of professional BIPOC and queer groups outside of this work environment, and am slowly looking into the company itself to see what is available. There are routine emails from the company’s DEI and sustainability teams, so something likely to appear.

    I follow the recommendations of my dermatologist to keep my skin healthy and clean. I do wear glasses and use sunscreen :)

    Moving forward, I might ask my manager if she thinks it is an issue. It has been about only a month at this job, but she is approachable, so I can bring this up to her.

    I apologize if I missed any crucial points in this response. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful words!

    1. Observer*

      Being in IT gives yo ua bit more leeway I think, because IT does have a bit of a reputation for being “quirky” around clothing and appearance. And it also explains why a company in the luxury beauty industry would hve overlooked your “plainness”, for lack of a better word.

      Given what you say about your company, I suspect that if your boss does think it’s something worth considering you should have a lot of room to do stuff that doesn’t force you into gender norms. But you are in the one field where you might just be able to get away with doing nothing and not have it have a negative impact on your career.

      1. Hills to Die On*

        All of that.
        I’ve been in IT for most of my career and you can get away with a much more casual appearance. I would not change what you are doing.

      2. Jasnah*

        I don’t think we should be telling anyone, particularly someone queer or nonbinary what is and isn’t a gender-norm for them. If their doctor is telling them they are fine their face should be perfectly acceptable at work. If an employee came to me with a conversation like this there’s no way in hell I’d be giving them skin care tips, I’d be asking who made these comments so I could shut it down that DAY.

        1. Observer*

          I’m not telling them what’s a gender norm. Nor do I think that anyone should be making any suggestions about their their skin care routine. And I’m not making any suggestions in that respect either. So I’m not really sure what you are responding to.

          1. Jasnah*

            I’m not sure I correctly understood this piece of you comment: “I suspect that if your boss does think it’s something worth considering you should have a lot of room to do stuff that doesn’t force you into gender norms.”

            1. Observer*

              What I’m saying is that there are a lot of different ways to play the game of “being into appearance”. I think that the OP will have the leeway to choose the ways that work best for them, so they can choose to do things that they consider less gendered.

              1. Observer*

                Sorry, I hit submit too soon.

                But that’s assuming that their boss even thinks that they need to worry about it. Given what they are saying, I’m not so sure that Boss is going to advise them to think about it.

      3. Sloanicota*

        Yeah knowing you are in IT I would definitely encourage you to reject, push back, or ignore these comments in a different way than I would if you were in, say, sales, or the receptionist or something. It sounds like you’re doing great and I hope your boss has your back if you raise this!

    2. Purple Cat*

      Thanks for the update and additional info.
      Hopefully these are just one-offs from people meeting you the first time and they end soon.
      Sounds like you’re in a great company where the work is interesting and the pay is good. Can’t get much better than that!

    3. Wisteria*

      I would also ask your same level colleagues and especially any other queer BIPOC individuals at your company. People at your company are always the best resource for company-specific culture questions.

    4. Mostly managed*

      I’m a GNC lesbian who used to work in an environment just like this (in IT even!) Lots of makeup talk that I couldn’t engage with. I just lied and said: “Oh I use a light L’oreal BB cream” and sometimes added, “I don’t like makeup/that’s basically all I need!” Mumbling something about “a more natural look” (not judging less natural looks, but just breezily acting like you’ve already thought about it) and then redirecting to a work thing helped me. But honestly the thing that helped the most was just to lie and pretend I was already doing whatever makeup thing they were talking about lol.

      (Also if you’re out and your coworkers are cool with it, you can make jokes about that– “oh you know, queer people don’t deal with this stuff in the same way!”)

    5. Nanani*

      Nice, thanks for the clarifications!
      So I think it’s fair to say that the people commenting on your skin are out of line.
      It doesn’t actually matter if they’re well-meaning and genuinely think concealer is something everybody has and knows how to use, or of they’re acting on gender norm police mode or what. It’s not in step with the rest of your company’s treatment, so it’s entirely fair to push back. Your manager may be able to help or at least affirm that you’re not doing anything wrong.

      And hey look all the commenters who Just. Couldn’t. FATHOM why a non-makeup user would work there. I hope you all read the update.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Given all this context, it seems pretty clear that you can blithely ignore or even push back a bit on the random people with their unsolicited opinions. Though it is probably prudent to check with your supervisor as you mentioned, if you decide to go from “ignore” to “push back.”

      1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

        Yes, fully agree. If someone made a comment on my skin I’d just stone-face them and say “oh”/”huh”/”okay” and then move on.

    7. Regular Lurker*

      I think given this context you almost certainly don’t need to change your appearance. If your work isn’t related to the products, your team and management aren’t saying anything and they were well aware of your style when they hired you, you’re probably fine.

      I don’t know if you can prevent the comments from happening at all; as I’ve said elsewhere, your coworkers likely have a strong personal interest in beauty/lifestyle products and probably view them as more of a neutral topic than they would be in an unrelated workplace. But given the overall supportive atmosphere you describe I don’t think you need to feel that you have to use them.

    8. TPS reporter*

      I’m so glad to hear the office isn’t as nightmarish as it originally appeared. It’s good to hear you have good diversity/inclusion programs and not everyone is piling on about makeup and skincare tips. It is entirely possible some of the comments come from well meaning people who think they are giving you “tips” that you’ve never thought of because they are experts and they are used to having conversations like that with colleagues and friends. The more you can politely push back on the comments I think would help them understand it’s not appropriate to do to colleagues and can alienate people who don’t conform to a certain gender paradigm.

    9. Liz T*

      First, just wanna give a hearty AMEN to arts/culture/education orgs often being less supportive environments than straight-up capitalistic juggernauts, at least on the admin and operations side of things. Get it together arts/culture/education!

      I second everyone saying that it sounds like you’re on solid ground. If your manager agrees, you might even be in a a place to return awkwardness to sender, as Captain Awkward teaches us.

      I’m not a well-liked person, so grain of salt, but I might say something like, “Oh! Generally when someone has a problem with my face, I think of that as something for them to sort out.”

    10. fhqwhgads*

      I think it’s completely reasonable to ignore the comments from those people. Until/unless your boss or your team indicates you need to do something (in which case, btw, I still think they’d be wrong to suggest it), you don’t have to worry about it. The people making comments are either well-intentioned but wrong or not well-intentioned and rude.

    11. CupcakeCounter*

      So this comment changes what I was going to say. I think you are totally fine since 1) this isn’t a makeup company 2) they went after you and 3) its “outsiders” making these comments.
      If the company makes products that you do have an interest in, try out some of those and see if you can work those into water cooler chats.
      “Anyone try the new Lilac & Willow candle? Smells like spring time.”
      “This hand cream is awesome – my hands have been so dry the last couple years because of all the hand washing and hand sanitizer and this makes me feel like I just had a paraffin hand dip.”
      “I gave my mom some of the Orange Blossom body butter for Mother’s Day and she’s been talking about it so much my sister is jealous. I’m going to have to get her some in another scent for her birthday – any recommendations?”

      As for the make-up comments, I definitely wouldn’t worry about it since the team in charge of your career progression at the company pursued you knowing who you are and what you look like. You’ve only been there a month – as long as it doesn’t seem like it is working up to be a “thing” give it a bit more time and see if people start minding their own beeswax. Or, if it applies to you and you want something to comment back with, lean into the lack of diversity in makeup for BIPOC skin tones.

    12. Just Me*

      Former beauty industry worker here. To be honest…………………………………………………sometimes in the field you get a LOT of unsolicited opinions about your appearance, in part because the industry is more or less about appraising appearance. I once came to work exhausted and my boss made me lie on the floor while she put some cream on my undereyes because I couldn’t possibly be seen looking the way I was. I also commented further down the threat that in SOME instances there may be super gendered, old-school expectations about how industry members present themselves and whether or not makeup is required (especially because professionals are expected to be On Trend, but there are so many trends. How do you reconcile clean girl aesthetic with drag makeup?), but there’s still debate about how it applies to queer professionals in the industry.

      1. squirreltooth*

        I second this. There can be a lot of casual discussion of appearance in this industry, which can in turn be great—it’s so nice, someone finally noticed my fun manicure!—or toxic/hurtful—oh, my coworker’s off-hand mention of a trait I’m sensitive about has sent me into a spiral of doubt, cool. There’s also a lot of enthusiasm for product among people in beauty, so it could be a matter of “I saw something that reminded me of XYZ Makeup I really like and want to chat about” that was handled very insensitively.

    13. squirreltooth*

      I used to work in beauty publishing and living up to the standards of the industry was a constant struggle for me. My own skin is prone to blemishes and having to wear concealer every day did not help. That said, I do think being in IT gives you a lot more leeway, as it isn’t a position where you need to interact with the public much. I wonder if the comments were of the “we’re trying to be helpful” variety.

    14. starfox*

      With this added context, I don’t think you should be expected to wear makeup. I understand that people in client-facing roles might have to look a certain way because they sort of become an advertisement for the product, like how people who work at a certain retail store often have to wear clothing from the store. But even then, that should be disclosed before you take the job.

    15. MEH Squared*

      Queer BIPOC fist of solidarity! t sounds like you’re on solid ground and if someone outside your team makes a comment, you can just shrug it off or push back (whichever you prefer). Run it by your manager just to make sure, but this is definitely a problem with the other people and not you. Congrats on finding a supportive workplace!

    16. Lurky McLurkerson*

      Given this additional information, a breezy toned “oh I don’t do makeup” might take care of it if the commenters are (otherwise) well-intentioned. It signals that you’ve received the message but not that you agree with it.

  58. ArtK*

    LW3: I’ve negotiated more vacation several times now. There’s no way that I’m going to go from 4 (or 5!) weeks down to 2 and then earn those back. I’ve never had an issue asking for that, but YMMV.

    LW5: This isn’t unique to small companies. I’ve been brought in as a change agent in several situations and run into similar roadblocks.

    1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      Negotiating vacation is very normal in later career professionals. Few people are willing to loose two or three weeks of vacation to start over. My husband didn’t even have to ask in his last job and was two years in when he discovered his offer included a non standard vacation package.

      And yep on LW5 as well….I spent a hellish year trying to shepherd through a change that I was hired to do for a Fortune 100 organization that didn’t want the change, wasn’t ready for the change, hadn’t budgeted for the cost of the change. They needed to say they were doing it – they didn’t feel like they ever needed to get it done.

  59. OyHiOh*

    For a second, I thought LW 5 was in my organization; we have an executive director who is also fond of the phrase “building the plane while we fly it.” The details don’t completely match though and when our payroll/accounting people introduce tracking and other necessary changes, we’re pretty good at following through and maintaining change.

    In LW 5’s case, no, you’re not going to be able to change the flight plan. Get out while you can, and find a plane that doesn’t resemble the movie Flight of the Phoenix.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Whenever I hear someone use that phrase I’m like, ok, cool, glad to know you’re ok with dying in a fiery crash, I guess.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      My old boss liked “jump in the water and build the boat”

      I… Did not.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        The figure of speech I used in a previous job was repairing the locomotive while it was running. I was the one dealing with the moving parts and trying to get them in the proper alignment.

        Unfortunately, it’s hard to explain that in a resume or interview without making too many disparaging remarks about other members of management.

  60. DataSci*

    There’s no indication that LW wants to “improve their complexion” (which is a phrase that carries a lot of baggage), just that they’re someplace they’re worried where they’ll have to spend time and effort on their skin in ways that are upsetting for them.

    There’s a difference between “I’m not terribly interested in makeup” and “Being expected to wear makeup triggers gender dysphoria” that I think a lot of femme-presenting people are just not seeing. I’m cis female but even for me being expected to wear makeup would go beyond “lack of interest” or “waste of time and money” into “forcing me to present gender in a way that deeply upsets me”.

    1. Nanani*

      People who enjoy this stuff and have been using it since they were 8 probably don’t realize that ZERO MAKEUP yes really no products at all is a thing and genuinely think “just a little concealer” is easy and free to the point of needing further thought but… that’s not the case.

      1. Loulou*

        It actually seems like people understand that “just a little concealer” is not a workable option for OP and are casting around for another option. I don’t think that it really answers the root of OP’s question and is basically unsolicited advice, but your comment is just literally not true.

        1. Liz T*

          The comment is true, because OP’s coworkers are people who enjoy this stuff, and are acting like zero makeup isn’t a thing.

      2. balloon frenzy*

        Why, because people who wear makeup are such bimbos that we possibly couldn’t grasp not wearing makeup? I don’t think that’s what you’re trying to say, but this is kind of unkind toward people who wear makeup.

        1. Nanani*

          Please don’t put words in my mouth. That is not at all what I’m saying.
          In fact I’m trying to be kind and empathetic here. Like the cosmetics version of this xkcd

          People who are into cosmetics overestimate how much people who don’t use them at all even know about them, including “just” this or that product. Plus, the phenomenon of “lazy” makeup tutorials and such that still include a plurality of products and steps is real. There really is an idea that “no makeup” includes foundations and concealers and moisturizers ,and there really are people who don’t understand that “no makeup” means “not even those products”.

        2. Gothic Bee*

          This is a major stretch. I don’t see where Nanani’s comment is anything but a response to all the people on this thread suggesting the OP could just wear a little makeup or a moisturizer.

    2. starfox*

      Yeah I’m a cis-female and I wear makeup sometimes. Today I’m even wearing lipstick! But I would be very upset if my job said I *had* to wear makeup. I’m not a doll. And you’d better expect to pay me for the time it takes to put on the makeup!

      I do understand if LW1 were actually selling makeup to clients, they might have to wear the product. But that’s not what’s going on here.

  61. RagingADHD*

    LW#2, you should only edit the job description if you are also submitting your resume on colored paper in Papyrus font, and delivering it in person so you can look the hiring manager square in the eye and show them how firm your handshake is, while offering to work for free to prove yourself.

    The devil on your shoulder is the “gumption” demon. Run away!

    1. Nameless in Customer Service*

      “the gumption demon” made me laugh aloud. I kind of want to draw it.

  62. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    For #2: don’t do it. I just sat in on a hiring panel for a new position and one of the candidates made a big deal about how the website for this area was out of date and was brusque to the point of being confrontational about what needed to be changed. My colleague who manages the website was put on the spot, and the rest of us were like, we know it needs to be updated, that’s why we’re hiring….

    If you bring in their own material as a copyedit project there’s a small chance they’ll think it’s cheeky and love it, but a much greater risk of you alienating potential future colleagues – either in HR who don’t have the time/skills to copyedit properly, or fellow copyeditors who might feel embarrassed/called out for not proofing the job description before it went out.

    1. Haijlee*

      I cannot echo this sentiment more. I hire copyeditors regularly and as a hiring manager, I am not fully in control of the job posting language. Some of it I am handed from management or HR and must use that phrasing. Often, like above, I’m in a hurry and need to get the posting up due to recruiters or HR out of office schedules. I don’t want glaring inaccuracies, but I don’t care much about minor typos or occasional spelling or spacing mistakes. (I know – gasp! – but hey, I’m not an editor and I have other priorities. *shrug* )

      If a candidate edited the posting with their application, I would immediately throw their resume in the the bin. If an applicant had the gall to edit the job posting, I know they are just going to get distracted by all of the other things in the organization that should be edited but aren’t, rather than sticking to the job I’m hiring them to do. They are going to end up frustrated and so am I. I need my editors to focus on what I’ve prioritized for them because it impacts our bottom line and customers. I do give editing tests (I swear by them in fact) and that is the place to show me how talented you are. NOT in the posting, correcting my emails, our websites, or any where else you may see room for improvement. There is always room for improvement and I’m looking for candidates who can prioritize without needed to be told.

  63. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4. It **is** a big deal. The minute the non-invite occurred – you should have immediately brought it up to your immediate supervisor.

    If he/she was not the one who left you off the list, the supervisor should “run interference” and find out WHY you weren’t included. At that point the “mistake” might be rectified.

    If your immediate super/manager WAS the culprit in the snub, then he/she has two options –

    a) pretend it was all a “mistake” , an “oops”, and work to correct it. And in spite of “ooh it’s too late” – they can ALWAYS fix these errors in a phone call. —or—-

    b) or stick to his/her guns, and you might expect to receive a mountain of bull***t rationalizations. —or—

    c) your super/manager will blame it on someone else and walk away.

    In any event, it IS a huge situation because if you worked hard on projects, with people, you will be conspicuous by your absence at the event. And it is something you should not stand for, nor accept.

        1. RagingADHD*

          …And a fanatical devotion to the Pope.

          The person who made the invite list should be put in the Comfy Chair and poked with soft cushions until they confess.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      This is not necessarily true? It really depends on the nature of the person’s role and the nature of the event. I can think of a bunch of things where the person would work their ass off on a project with many of the people who’d be at such an event but still not expect the person in that role to be at said event. There are a zillion variables in play here we’re not privy to.

      1. H.C.*

        Agreed, it can be anything from venue having reduced capacity due to covid safety/lack of staffing, organization changing their policy to invite only client-facing staff, or as AAM noted – an oversight or typo in invite distribution. It doesn’t make sense to go in with the presumption that this was done with malice.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          No – but to play the COVID card, or “reduced capacity” (most banquet halls can add another plate) , “organization changing the policy”, etc. can all be used as excuses, and over-rationalized logic to handle the situation.

          Most of the time it doesn’t end well. If it’s an oversight or typo, that can and should be IMMEDIATELY resolved.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            They can always add another plate…but LW may not be the only “just one more plate” omitted (for whatever reason) from the invitation list. We don’t know.

            There are less confrontational ways to raise the question whether LW should have been invited, or should be invited going forward. She may or may not have been snubbed.

            1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              The employee feels he/she’s been snubbed.

              At the very least, an explanation is owed and should be given IMMEDIATELY. Because if it IS a mistake, it can best be fixed sooner (before the event) than later (damage done).”

              And if there’s a REASONABLE explanation for the omission it can be given and offered. If it isn’t reasonable, yeah – it’s confrontational. But at least everyone knows where everyone stands.

  64. Miss Muffet*

    #3 – I would love if you are able to, at whatever point in the process, point out that these kinds of benefits are not competitive. Companies will not change if they don’t hear that they are losing talent because of BS PTO and benefits plans like this. You should definitely ask for more but if they can’t meet it (and sometimes PTO isn’t flexible because of service rules or whatever, which is totally stupid) you should be clear about why you are turning down the job or even the rest of the interview process.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      And unfortunately – they won’t be able to fix things until next year, in most cases.

      And MOST CERTAINLY, they are aware that their benefits suck. Nearly every company that’s still functional does comparative evaluations. If they have a crummy health plan, no 401K, and skimp on vacation….


  65. Jasnah*

    I am so flabbergasted by the responses to OP #1. I can’t imagine any other AAM letter where OP says “my coworkers are commenting on a part of my body in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable” and commenters saying “well that’s what you get for joining this industry” or “Just try to fix it a little”. Throw in that OP is BIPOC, non-binary, not a client facing role, and the company doesn’t even sell makeup…. what is happening?

    Commenters are usually so (rightly!) defensive of workers rights but the general consensus here seems to be that they should change? No. We can all work in whatever industry we choose and should absolutely not have to change our skin to do so.

    1. starfox*

      Yeah, 100% this. If LW1 took on a client-facing role, I can understand that they might be expected to look a certain way when dealing with luxury beauty. You’re kind of… selling the illusion of a specific lifestyle (as gross as that sounds).

      But, 1, that’s not what’s happening and, 2, if they were expected to wear makeup, that should’ve been disclosed before they accepted the job.

    2. TransmascJourno*

      Yeah. When issues related to gender-nonconforming/nonbinary people pop up, this seems to happen. The commentariat is usually so wonderful here, but I feel like this tends to be a blindspot for some.

  66. Just Me*

    LW 1 – I (she/her) used to work in the beauty industry. It depends on what you are doing.

    My role was client facing and full makeup, fashionable clothing, and hair/nails done was a requirement. There was much debate about whether the makeup requirement carried over to cis men and trans individuals, but ultimately it was determined that everyone needed to be well-groomed and if they were female or femme-presenting then makeup was required. (My makeup tended to be more minimal and nails weren’t my priority, and it was hinted to me many times that I was not pretty enough or done up enough for the role. I quit and don’t miss it at all.) I have another friend who does PR for a luxury beauty brand and she not only needs full hair/makeup for events, but she and her colleagues are more or less required to have it professionally done. Of course, in both instances our roles required us to be representatives of the brand.

    With that said, many practicioners in the field (such as professional makeup artists) often don’t wear makeup and may go on assignments completely bare-faced, which of course is often fine because they are just there to interact with models/actors behind the scenes. It entirely depends on who you are interacting with and the image you need to convey. Unfortunately, it can fall into very gendered expectations of how a male or female person looks, and people who are nonbinary or gender fluid are making the industry reconsider this for the very first time.

  67. Montana*

    LW #1
    If you’re not client facing, there are very few reasons why you’d need to wear makeup daily. The only one really that I can think of is if you have abnormally dark circles and routinely look hungover without makeup. And even then one could still argue that if you look like that all the time, the only time it would be necessary would be when you have a meeting outside of your team or with people you don’t usually work with.

    Is it the look of makeup or the act of putting it on that aggregates your gender dysphoria? I have acne and I use a light coverage powder foundation. Takes me under 2 minutes and I’m out the door. I don’t find it makes me look more feminine and I actually know a few men who do the same – though they don’t advertise it. If it’s the act of putting on makeup, maybe swapping your current moisturizer out for a tinted moisturizer might help for the days you need to look more polished?

    On the other end of the spectrum, you could also just tell your rude coworkers: “*I* know you don’t mean anything by it, but just so you know, it’s a little rude to give unsolicited feedback on someone’s appearance.” That’s what’s really the heart of the matter here anyway.

  68. cheeky*

    If you work for a high end beauty, you should expect to have to elevate your style and grooming- it is absolutely part of the deal.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t think it would be helpful to anyone else to be subject to the same screwy expectations women traditionally have been, but fwiw my sense is that whether someone in this industry is client-facing or works in a back office division is probably more important than their gender presentation. In my experience, if you walk into, say, Geo F. Trumper, or Kiehl’s, etc., everyone in there is very attentive to grooming, not just the women. I’d be surprised if the same expectations were present to the same extent among their accountants, IT people, etc.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Even the employees working in the manfacturing? What about those in the lab, where wearing makeup could be dangerous or contaminate the work? Or the custodial staff?

      There are many roles where this is a ridiculous assumption to make.

  69. Maggie*

    OP #1 – as someone who has worked in this industry – you unfortunately are expected to care about it somewhat from my understanding. Whether this is skincare / makeup related – it depends on your company culture, e.g. I work for a mens streetwear brand now but this is not my style – I use my employee benefits on the most feminine floral things we carry and wear with my normal clothes – but I definitely still care about how I look and it’s intentional (most of the time). From my experience in the beauty / fashion industry, you do have to care about how you look to an extent, that’s a part of the job

    1. quill*

      Also, if most of the drive is coming from an expectation to use their products, sticking to a lotion or moisturizer without gendered marketing could thread the needle between “look, I care about the mission” and “I do not want to wear a face with gendered beauty standards on it.” It’s not a guarantee that it wouldn’t cause any dysphoria to be talking about lotion and in a space that talks a lot about beauty standards, but it might be different enough.

  70. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW1, you don’t have to wear concealer, but you are working for an industry where a lot of people are passionate about the product and that product does include make up, which links to physical presentation even if you are working behind the scenes. Network with other LGBT people in the industry and in your office if possible – it may be that you can get away with just dressing well. But also consider that this place might not be the right fit for you in terms of work culture.

    LW2, I completely understand the urge to correct the job description but it’s not worth doing that while you’re interviewing. Wait until you get the job and then you can see about editing/correcting company templates.

  71. RB*

    #5 sounds like an absolute disaster. Couldn’t agree with Alison more. Sometimes you sort of want to stay and watch the shitshow play out, like if it’s really good money, but not if other people are leaving and you’re going to get stuck with everyone’s work.

  72. ByeByeBye*

    OP #3: I just did this. The benefits at a job I just accepted were good, but healthcare premiums would cost me $3500 more for the comparable plan per year, as well as a higher deductible. I asked for more that covered that and then some and they obliged.

    1. Dahlink*

      I’m interviewing for a job now where they don’t cover healthcare premiums for dependents and I’m very worried about this. If offered the job I plan to negotiate to cover the cost difference but also I feel like it’s inherently more risky a situation since the costs could go up in the future. This is a pretty well-known tech company that told me they really want to recruit more women, yet their benefits package isn’t family friendly!

  73. Baby Llama Drama*

    I used to work at a large queer organization. My boss at the time, who otherwise fit the textbook definition of “butch lesbian,” usually wore a subtle eyeliner with perhaps a bit of brown mascara and undereye concealer. Every time she skipped the makeup routine, someone would comment that she looked “tired.” That is to say–heteronormative beauty standards exist in queer spaces too! Keep on bringing your un-made up face to work and don’t give it a second thought.

  74. Liz H*

    LW#4 – as someone who is currently working on the invite list for my company’s big open house, I can tell you that often it is just an oversight, or a misspelling. Managing these lists is impossible to get perfect, and in working on our mailing list I was shocked at the number of employees and client who weren’t on the list as it simply hadn’t been updated recently. I would reach out to marketing, or whomever developed the list and ask them.

  75. nnn*

    Out-of-box idea: I wonder if you’d be perceived as A Person Who Wears Makeup if you put, like, a tube of concealer and a compact on your desk, even if you didn’t actually wear it on your face?

    A lot of factors would have to converge to for this to work: you’d have to have a desk (as opposed to hotelling), you’d have to already own makeup (although perhaps a makeup bag with unspecified contents might give this impression), the people commenting on your face would have to be people who see your desk, and it would have to be acceptable in your office to have makeup sitting out on your desk. But if these factors do happen to converge in your life, it would be a low-risk experiment.

    1. pancakes*

      Nah. People who love to talk about products are very likely going to start up a chat around them, and the letter writer’s comment with more info about the interactions they’ve had strongly suggests they don’t need to be worried at all about being seen as someone who’s into makeup.

  76. Keith Robertson*

    Cosmetics stores classify their employees as “cast members” so that they can control your appearance in ways that are wildly inappropriate for a store or office environment, as if your job was to dress up as Cinderella at Disneyland. It’s sexist, of course, and another example of how labor rights are a joke in the United States.

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