Kitty Blackadder

Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about making art, too much eyeshadow and becoming a grown up.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation: Cruelty Free Cosmetics

While I haven't been posting as much lately about makeup, the reality is that I still love makeup and wear it most days. I'm also in the process of transitioning to using only Cruelty Free makeup, and so I'd like to sometimes share reviews of some of the new products I try, particularly those that are less talked about online...

GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation and Real Techniques Sponge
GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation (my shade is porcelain), £7.99 from Superdrug

Finding a cruelty free foundation was one of the things I was most worried about with making the transition to cruelty-free makeup. I have very pale, dry, sensitive skin and I struggle to find drugstore foundations at the best of times - and currently, high-end is just not in my budget, given that I wear a full face of makeup probably five days a week, on average. Other foundations I have previously enjoyed - just to give a frame of reference - are the Rimmel Lasting Finish Nude Foundation (the one with the white lid), and the L'Oreal True Match Foundation.

I decided to pick up the GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation first. It gets fairly positive reviews on the Superdrug website but other than that I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about it. To start off, I was pleased with how light their lightest shade, Porcelain, was - it's actually a really good match for me. It's slightly more warm toned than my skin, but not so much that I look like I'm dressing up like a Simpson, which is how Bourjois foundations always look on me. Overall I would say this doesn't so much 'warm up' my skin so much as it cancels out some of the pink and redness present in my skin, and given that I have a lot of it, that's no bad thing.

GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation packaging


In terms of packaging it comes in  a firm squeezy tube. While, given the choice, I would choose a bottle with a pump every time, I normally don't mind a squeezy foundation tube, except that this one is made of a very firm plastic - it's like a hard, fixed shape tube rather than the likes of the L'Oreal stay Matte Foundation, which is so flexible you can roll the tube when things start to run out. The downside of the GOSH packaging is that the last couple of weeks of use are kind of a pain, what with having to coax product out each day. Of course if you regularly use makeup on the go, or carry a makeup bag with you, then having slim, non-breakable packaging may be a massive plus for you.

For me, the other big drawback with this foundation is that it doesn't contain any SPF. I always use a moisturiser under foundation anyway, but with my skin type I have yet to find a facial SPF (within my budget) that doesn't break me out, or that isn't so heavy that I can't put makeup over the top of it. What this means is that on days when I'm going to be outside for much time at all, I'm not able to wear this foundation. I'm continuing to try and find a facial cream/SPF that I can use under it, but I'm not having much luck so far (If you have any suggestions, please do leave them in the comments!)

GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation sample


In terms of application, I always use a Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge for this, as I do with every foundation. I feel like it gives a medium coverage when applied this way, and generally I'll go over my whole face like that, and then, maybe apply a small amount more to my cheeks, where I have a real issue with redness peeping through. Spots, marks on the skin and redness/discolouration are definitely still present, which I quite like for a more believable, everyday finish, to be honest, but it's worth keeping in mind that if you're looking for something full coverage: this isn't it.

blog author barefaced
Above: completely bare-faced
GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation on half of face
Above: foundation is on my right (the left hand side of the photo), other side is still completely bare-faced.
GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation fully applied
Above: Foundation fully applied, but nothing else on.

Finish and Wear

Finish-wise, I'd have to call it a sort of 'satin' finish. I definitely don't look powdery, matte or dry, but 'glowy' would definitely be an exaggeration too. I find that for the first 5-10 minutes this is on my skin I look a little, almost waxy, but it seems to settle in and look fine after that. I mostly wear this to work, where I'm a barista: so often long days of wear, lots of steam in my face and changing temps from freezing A/C to opening an oven at face height every 15 minutes or so. Throughout it all I would have to say this foundation wears really, pretty well. I do powder my nose - literally just my nose - but that's it and everything else wears fine on me. I have some fine lines next to my eyebrow and on my forehead and while, yes, if I lean right into a mirror at the end of the night I can see it has sunk into those somewhat, but I don't feel it's noticeable at a 'normal' distance.

GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation as part of a now completed makeup look

Overall I really like this foundation and I think I really lucked out with it being the first cruelty free one that I tried. It's not my favourite finish for my skin - I like something a little more glowy and light - but one thing I do appreciate is that this doesn't oxidise or change too much on my skin as time passes. Pretty much what I leave the house looking like in the morning is what I'll come home looking like - barring a little sinking in and wear, which I think is reasonable. I've already used a whole tube of this foundation and I have repurchased it to continue using, obviously, I've been using it through the warmer months just now but I'm intrigued to see how it works with my much drier skin come winter time.

Have you ever tried this foundation? What did you think? Any recommendations for a Cruelty Free foundation that does contain SPF?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

5 Things Curly Haired Girls Hear all the Time

Ah Cury Hair. Can't live with it, can't convince your mum to let you chemically straighten it when you're eight. From tangles the size of mangoes, and a frizz-expansion rate that could be weaponised, life with curly hair is certainly never dull. But even if you've made peace with a life of sleeping in silk caps, you still have to deal with what everyone elsehas to say on the matter...

Curly Haired Girl and title: 5 Things Curly Haired Girls Hear All the Time

"People pay a fortune for hair like that"

A comment which will be barked at you when you have the audacity to complain about your hair for a single moment - even if it's just to remark that the rain has made it a bit frizzy - and here's the thing, yes, people really do spend a lot of time and money for curly hair like mine, but people also spend a fortune on having bits of silicone jammed into their bodies and images of insects tattooed on their flesh - and while there's obviously nothing wrong with any of that -  it doesn't mean it's something I want. As it happens, I do now love my curls, after many years of daily battles (that I almost always lost), I made peace with my ringlets. But here's the thing: just because society sees big curls as 'special' doesn't mean you are obligated to feel the same. You can have the biggest, bounciest curls in the country and iron them poker straight every morning if you want to - it's your hair. 

"You must've eaten all your crusts when you were little"

Ha, good one, I have never heard that before.
There are of course the variants, such as anytime someone sees you throw away a bit of crust (be it bread, pizza or Pop Tart), they will remark "oh, you'll lose those curls!". Sigh.
Now I Googled this to try and see where this whole crusts = curls thing came about, and I couldn't find the answer, yeah, I couldn't find it hidden amongst all the threads of people asking, and blogs explaining whether or not crusts = curls. People actually are unsure about this. But just to clarify: they don't. At all. This isn't like a 'carrots help you see in the dark type of a situation' where okay, no, carrots don't, but the vitamin A they're rich in, does. Crusts however, have no bearing on a person's hair texture, style or shape.

"Are your curls natural?"

You're sitting in the waiting room at the GPs, or in line at the cinema, or on a bus, or a plane, or a ferry and all of a sudden you hear, "are your curls natural?" shouted above the background noise. You glance up and, oh, sorry, were you talking to me? You see I didn't initially realise because you hadn't said 'hello' or made eye contact, and I've never met you before so I didn't realise that the personal question being hurled across a crowded room, was in fact meant for me to answer politely, for no apparent reason.
It's such a weird question to ask without even so much as a 'hello' before it, but I get it at least a couple of times a week. I, personally, can't imagine staring down a stranger for several minutes and then bellowing, "Are your boobs real?", or, "are you really a blonde?", but apparently, many others don't feel the same way I do.
I haven't even got to the strangest part of this interaction yet, oh no. So after realising the shouted question was directed at me, I smile and say "yes, they are", now without fail, and I mean, seriously, always the next question is, "really?" accompanied by eyebrows raised to the heavens and a look of mild distrust. No actually, not really, you caught me! It's a hobby of mine you see, I like to invest significant time styling my hair to look like this purely so that I can lie to random strangers who then ask me about it. You're right, that does seem more likely.

Blurred image of curly hair.

*stroke, stroke, stroke*

By far the most awkward thing people can say to me about my hair is nothing. Oh and by that I don't mean that people simply don't care that I have a different shape of hair hanging from my head, oh no, I mean the situations when without so much as a 'hello' a random person, in a public place will just start touching my hair. It sounds unbelievable, it sounds made up, but I assure you this happens, and it happens far more often than I'd hope.  
I came to realise, long ago, that my hair is like a magnet for babies and toddlers (particularly those with sticky hands) and that, I totally understand - they are after all, infants, they are allowed to give into the urges (like soiling themselves and screaming when someone says they can't have candy), that we, as adults, are supposed to know how to handle. But clearly a whole bunch of folks missed the memo about ignoring the urge to reach out and run your hand through a strangers' hair. 
Just a few weeks ago I was standing in a crowded shopping centre lift and felt something catch in my hair - I ignored it, thinking it had just snagged on the zipper of someone's bag or something. Tug, nope, there it is again, I turn my head and there is a lady literally holding my hair between her hands and running her fingers through it. I jerked my head away, more out of reflex than rudeness, and she actually leaned forward to start touching it again while saying, "oh, it's just such lovely hair". I literally had to say, "please don't touch me", which I'm sorry, but I don't think should ever have to be said.
Now I know what you're thinking, maybe this person for some reason, wasn't aware of  the inappropriateness of their actions, and I can see why this kind of behaviour might lead you to assume this but this person was wearing the work uniform of a nearby shop and her name tag had 'manager' written on it - so I have to assume that she had a reasonable understanding of personal space, or else she'd probably have been sat in some kind of harassment seminar at work at that very moment. Also, this incident aside, I have had many people do this over the years, many in their place of employment; shop workers, hostesses, cabin crew, Cast Members at Disney World; the list could go on, so I can assure you that this wasn't an isolated issue. Maybe I sound harsh, or nasty but I'm sorry, I wash my hair and I style it and I do not want greasy, dirty hands run through it (yes, even if you think yours are clean, I still don't want them in my hair, thanks), and I'm a little sick of looking like the bad guy when I say this to people who are stroking me like a spaniel - their shocked look always leads me to feel they were expecting some kind of flattered, grateful response to the interaction.
No. Just no.

"What happens when you try to straighten it?"

Erm, it becomes straight?
People never seem contented with this answer, but I never really know what they're expecting to hear; "As soon as the GHDs touch my hair, a pink, holographic vortex is formed, giving life to a dozen mauve and mustard coloured Pegasus which spring forth from my ringleted locks to embark on a quest for immortality".
But no, as much as I hate to disappoint people, when I apply an appliance specifically designed and built to straighten curly hair, to my curly hair - all that happens, is that it becomes straight. Mind. Blown.

 So those are 5 things this curly haired girl hears all the time - do you relate to any of these? Any variant for other hair styles and colours you'd like to share - I know there must be some!

Friday, 11 August 2017

5 Things I've Learned So Far From Jogging

I've been jogging consistently for a couple of months now. I know, I'm as shocked as anyone to be honest. In fact, I've actually had this post typed up for several weeks now, but still felt too nervous to post it, in case it turned out this whole thing was just a phase after all. Who knows, I've had weirder.
Coming to jogging as someone who'd never consistently exersised before, there's been a lot to learn: some of it good, like the cool 'respect nods' from other joggers I pass, and some not so fun - oh hello shin splints. But yeah, it's been an interesting experience, and so today I thought I'd share 5 Things I've Learned So Far From Jogging;

1. The sheer terror that is accidently leading a jogging convoy

This has actually happened to me twice now, and it's not getting any less awful. I jog in Glasgow, in a pedestrainised area that's ideal for jogging, which I am grateful to have close by, but of course, it means that every other jogger in the area is using it too. Sometimes, because the paths are also full of bikes/small children/very bold pigeons, it's not uncommon for there to end up being 5-6 people jogging in a convoy when the path narrows, because it makes it easier to keep moving through the 'crowds'. Now, this is totally fine if you're out just running your usual 10k or whatever, but if, like me, you started jogging with the fitness level of a cushion and running for more than 45 seconds at a time made you feel like your life  was at risk, then suddenly finding yourself in a narrow space, with 5 people jogging in rhythmn behind you and no space to 'pull over' is literally terrfying. Both times I had to pull out the big guns and blast Eye of the Tiger to get me through the stretch... and then collapse off to the side with all the grace of a bird shit hitting the ground at the first opportunity. Suffice to say, I am a solitary runner.

2. The hardest step is the first one

I know, I know, but it is true. Once I'm out there with my music on and breathing in the fresh air I am always up for a jog, but sometimes, sitting in several layers of pyjamas, watching the rain lashing the window, it just doesn't seem that appealing to go out there. The deal I always make to myself is that I have to put on my running gear and go out there. I don't have to run, I don't even have to move from the pavement in front of the door.. but I do have to go out. Shockingly enough, once I'm out there, I always want to run, not least because I'm worried about looking funny to people on the street if I just do a 180 and head back inside.

3. I thought I knew what sweating was before. I didn't.

While, yes, I knew I wasn't exactly an active person before I started jogging, I did think that I had experienced being sweaty before. You know, on sunny days, or when lugging furniture up three flights of stairs (PIVOT!), but, oh, was I wrong. When I am out running, I can literally feel the heat radiating from my face which, by the way, is so red Santa has just recruited me. I am sweating so much it gets in my eyes - and that freaking hurts by the way! Also, sore nose from hayfever? Sweat will get all up in there and make that sting like heck too - who knew?!

I'm telling myself that the sweating must be good for me. I mean, it shows I'm working hard, probably. However my skin is not liking it. Hello breakouts, couldn't see you there, under that one massive zit the size of a baby's head.

4. Living in Scotland, it's not okay to skip a jog because it's raining.

Yeah, jogging in the rain may feel pretty awful, and look a bit daft tbh, but in Scotland, it's not that feasible to avoid it. It's honestly comical how many times the sun's been shining and in the 3 minutes it takes me to wrestle on my sports bra suddenly people are out there building arks, however, waiting it out doesn't work (the rain knows you're waiting. It can sesne it ...), so the only option is a rather soggy session out there. Oh well, that's why we have hair dryers and fleecy blankets right?

5. The change from dreading it to missing it happens really fast

In the couple of months that I've been jogging I have managed to catch a virus that left me with all the energy of Lupin after a full moon, and fall and hurt my knee which (while luckily no real harm was done), looked like some kind of monster from the realm of Mordor was about to hatch out of it for a couple of days. Yeah, sexy. The thing is, if either of these things had occured during my Stardew Valley Hibernation of Winter 2016 or let's face it, any other time in the preceding 25 years, I probably wouldn't have been too bothered. Bring on the Netflix, I would have said. Pop some corn. Charge the Kindle. Order the Dominos. But now? Jeez, I was so agitated with not being able to get out and run for a couple of not insignificant periods of time. I felt worked up and like I wanted to punch the wall sometimes - before quickly remembering I had no energy to do that anyway.

Jogging has so quickly gone from being an obligation, to being time that I really cherish. It's time that I can listen to whatever I want, time that I can focus on me, I can listen to myself and push myself and do something just for me. I can smile when I run, I can cry, I can sing along to the Moana soundtrack when there's nobody behind me (or occassionally, when I just *think* there's nobody behind me).

So there we have it, 5 things I've learned so far from jogging. Are you a jogger? Can you relate to any of this? Any tips for me? Or, what things have you learned from whatever sports you take part in?

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Blog Posts I Read and the Blog Posts I Write

The original title for this post was "Finding My Voice", but that made me sound like I'd had a reverse-Ariel moment and had in fact discovered I was the next Idina Menzel (ooh, mixing my Disney princess references... hardcore.). Anyway, I wanted to talk a little today about why I write, and what I write, and just generally to explore the difference between what I consume, and what I project.

Header image of a notebook bearing the title "Finding My Voice"

I first really got into blogs and started following along when I was 20, so six years ago. Among the first I followed were Lily Melrose, J for Jen, and, like a lot of other people I was hooked on Zoella and Essie Button. My Bloglovin' feed was filled with lipstick reviews, shopping hauls, Christmas makeup looks and cute hair braids and believe me, I couldn't have been happier. I had a Birchbox subscription, I bought suitably seasonal candles and I made this blog, of course, to write about, and bask in my love for makeup and everything that the beauty bloggers were. I wanted to be ahead of the curve, I wanted to be original, I wanted to be funny, I wanted to be wanted basically - but, if you take a look at the stats of this blog, you can easily tell, none of those things happened for me. I think it's because while, yes, I was besotted with the idea that the Lush PR team might send me the Christmas collection, and yes I really DID love writing about what shower gel I was using - oh and the photographs, I freaking loved taking the photographs - the reality was that it wasn't my love for a bargain concealer that kept me writing over the years. I LOVED writing about makeup, but somehow, it still wasn't my passion, on a deeper level - I think I wrote about beauty mostly because there were 1000 blogs out there doing the same, showing me it was safe to do so: that this was how to express creativity as a woman in my early twenties.

3 Lipstick Queen lipsticks laid out
Man, I loved taking these sorts of photos.

But actually, I've always written, right through childhood and through my teens, there has always been something being fervently typed up on my laptop late at night, or scribbled in my purple fuzzy diary after I had put the "padlock" on my door to keep my little sister out. The subjects have varied wildly from musings about whether my teacher was a witch (18 years on and I still think she might have been tbh), to huge, elaborate tales of pirates with incredibly emo names, and every imaginable subject in between until, of course, we came to beauty. Because there were already so many wonderful beauty blogs out there, in creating my own I instantly had so many of my creative "needs" met: I had goals to work towards, I had a schedule, I had motivation, community, validation and of course, control. When I wrote a "Top 5 Highlighters" post, I could have everything just so. I could take 1000 pictures and redraft 100 times in order to create something that I felt was correct. So writing a beauty blog allowed me to channel my fairly aimless writing into something that seemed 'worth it', that there was a point to, that I was joining in and maybe someday could become a way to meet people or even be a job. I felt like it turned my scribbles spread over 57 different notebooks into a clear narrative - but whose narrative was it?

Real Techniques blush brush and three baked blushes from MUR.

In retrospect, I think it's fairly easy to see that a  part of the reason that this blog never 'went' anywhere was because I wasn't being myself, and yes, I know that's incredibly cliche, but I think it's the truth. I DID rewrite everything 10 times, I edited and edited my personality to try and make myself better and more like Lily, or Zoe or whoever else: what do they have that I don't? Why can't be that together? I tripped over myself trying to follow every rule about post length, image placement, SEO and click-baity titles and really, all I ever wanted was to write what I felt.

A big turning point was joining the Project Panning community on YouTube, where, in stark contrast to the blog, I had a great time, almost instantly falling into an amazing group of women (Amber F, megsmakeup8, and Emily R being just a few of them) where we all communicated about issues we were having and gave each other support and encouragement. There, I didn't need to pretend to have it together or to have an Instagram-Ready flat - I could just be me, and they saw and appreciated that. I didn't have to always behave the same, or to self edit; I could have funny days, sad days, chatty days and, in contrast to how things had been on the blog - all of that was ok. I realised that I didn't need to try and be anything, I really could just be me.

Picture of me posing for a YouTue thumbnail
YouTube thumbnail shot from back in the good old days. Not completely sure what's going on with my blush/highlighter/bronzer situation, but it didn't matter so much then, I was happy.

As time passed and my interests changed and grew - exploring new topics like marriage, minimalism, vegan diets and home interiors, I realised that so many of the bloggers I once squealed to see on my Bloglovin' feed were now being completely ignored. Instead, I leapt on posts from A Cup of Jo, Extraordinary Routines, Rowdy Kittens, Jenny Mustard and many others who offer a more varied, lifestyle based content. Sure, you'll find mentions of a particularly fantastic lipstick, but they also explore more in depth topics like mental health, decisions about having children. women's rights and more - so why wasn't I writing about any of this when it's clearly what I was passionate about?

Well, it all came down to fear. While I may never have been good at beauty writing, it was safe, it was formulaic. I could sit down tomorrow and write a review of my Hoola bronzer (mmm... I can even see the photo props), and I would have a great time doing it. I could post it up, send out a couple of tweets, nothing to worry about. But, if I was to start writing about my anxiety, well, gee, I could give bad advice, or offend someone. If I wrote about the meals I cooked, well, I mean what do I know, I'm no Judy King? Writing about minimalism or jogging or mental wellness in general, I mean, I'm not an expert, I would hate to get it wrong. Best play it safe and write about some mascara then...

Fruitbowl on a wooden table
More recent blog photos have looked like this: nobody panic, we do actually keep more fruit than that in the house, but the kiwis were not very photogenic and the bananas wouldn't cooperate.

As time has gone on though, I've realised that I may not know much in life, but I do  know my own story and I know my own mind. At 26 I believe I am finally (freaking FINALLY) on the road to overcoming the anxiety that has crippled my life for more than 2 decades. I have quit trying to pursue a career with my degree because I just honestly don't want to work in that industry, and instead I'm working part time as a barista, surrounded by 20 year olds who're all way cooler than I ever was at 20, and I'm trying to teach myself Software Development to a degree level. I'm learning to love exercise for the first time in my life, I'm learning to care what I put in my body. I'm planning a wedding (erm, or well I should be planning my wedding...), I'm navigating a minefield of family relationships and I've managed to keep a plant alive for more than a month (well, actually, it's three plants, but I mean I don't want to blow my own trumpet) - all of these are stories I want to tell, and conversations I want to start. I don't want to be afraid of my own voice anymore, because I believe I do have a story to tell and ideas to share - I want to start being a positive force and writing the kind of posts I would like to read, that would help me, or inspire me or make me laugh. The bigger the subject, the bigger the risk of stepping on toes or embarrassing myself, but I know I have more in me than thoughts about blush, and I really want to get that out there.

So if you made it through this post, well done, and thank you! I'm so excited to get my teeth into writing again and begin sharing more dynamic, though provoking content on here, and, additionally (I'm making it public here so I can hold myself accountable), I've started work on my book - To Gatwick and Back -  which tells the story of growing up with an anxiety disorder, and now, as an adult, dealing with all the mess it has made. At the rate I'm going I should have it finished sometime in 2072, so, hold onto your hats folks!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

My Employers Told Me I Had to Wear Makeup and Heels, and I'm Not Okay with That.

So, it's been a minute. In the month or so since I last sat down to write a post I got a job (yay!), and then had to leave the job before I could even start (booooo!). Now, I could, and may yet write a bit more about the full set of circumstances that came about - because I think it's an experience worth writing about, if I can only pick my jaw off up the floor and do that, but for this post, I want to talk about just one of the issues that I had with this employer.

As you might be able to tell from the title, I was hired by a company that enforces an excessive dress code and grooming policy. I would love to share the specifics or quote phrases from the several-page-long document to show the harsh language used, but frankly, the document was marked as 'confidential' and there's a long paragraph at the bottom telling me exactly what I'll happen if I share any part of it - can't imagine why they'd hate for this to become public - so I can't do that, but anyway, this isn't ultimately isn't a piece about me blowing the whistle on a specific company, it's about how I felt being faced with these appearance guidelines and how it's changed the way I see things now.

 WARNING: A completely bare and unedited face not fit to be seen in the workplace.

To give at least a little context to things: it was a High-Street, retail job, working for a major, international company that sells high end beverage machines and their supplies to the public. I knew nothing about the dress code when I applied, and due to there not currently being a store in my city, or nearby for that matter, I hadn't seen the work environment first hand. I interviewed in another city’s store and have to say it was a very positive experience for me, staff were lovely. I wasn't overly aware of the dress code then - I was interviewed by a manager not in uniform, and the only staff member I saw for longer than a quick wave was male - so I couldn't see the issues I would soon find out about. I was thrilled to get the job, and everything seemed great - the job hunt was over, the super tight financial belt could be loosened and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Fast forward two weeks and major cracks had started to appear in the company's communication and coordination - dates pushed back, emails from me ignored, that kind of thing - but in amongst all the fog and whispers, I received one piece of information loud and clear. The dress and grooming standards. Now, I've worked in a lot of customer facing jobs - I've worked in everything from busy food and beverage locations, all the way up to fragrance counters and high end wedding wear - I am aware of the need to present oneself well, and to look clean, approachable and professional at work. I am also aware that for brands that aim for a more 'high end' feel they may be stricter with things like neon coloured hair ties, or coloured socks peeping through between your black shoes and black trousers. I don't think it's unreasonable for a company to want their employees to look fresh and well-kept because I do think that speaks to the customer, and is more welcoming, and while I'm not personally a 'fan' of uniforms, I do appreciate that when a company spends thousands of pounds designing their products' aesthetic, and decorating their store, they don't want the attention drawn instead to the staff member wearing a tie-dye pair of overalls (‘cos that's what the kids are wearing today, right?). So yeah, I get looking 'proper' at work. Neither men, nor women should be allowed to come in with creased, soiled clothing. Nobody should stink of alcohol, cigarette smoke or last night's Chinese takeaway. Both genders should polish scuffs of their shoes, wrestle their hair into some sort of compliance and have non-offensive breath - are you with me?

My issue with this dress code came in the form of how much more than men women were expected to be. How much more uncomfortable, how much more sexualised, how much more maintained and how much more out of pocket. Now, the dress code for gents seems reasonable enough to me - gents can have a beard, but they need to keep it nice, or they can be clean shaven. Uniform is a standard shirt and tie and typical black shoes - and everything else for gents is as I discussed above. Please shower. Please have tidy hair. Please brush your teeth. When you get onto the dress code for ladies, it is more than double the length and much more invasive. Women must wear heels. Women must wear the provided uniform - a fitted dress. Women must wear various, specifically mentioned items of makeup, including, but not limited to, foundation, lipgloss and red lipstick - and the woman is responsible for keeping this up to standard all day. Women must not only have their hair tied up, but it must be pinned and pleated or placed in a bun. Oh, and wear perfume, wash your hair every day and y'know obviously, all the usual hygiene requirements too. I cannot fathom how in this year, in our society, this seems okay to anyone. I am there, allegedly, to greet customers, to use my product knowledge and experience to advise them on the best beverage products for their requirements and to efficiently process their transactions. Can anyone tell me how wearing high heels, red lipstick and eyeliner would help me do this?

 No makeup, but still exactly the same knowledge of customer service as I would have with eyeliner on...

I can understand that if you work for a makeup brand, you might be expected to showcase their products on your face to help sell them, likewise, if you work in a clothing store it might be inappropriate to walk about in a t-shirt with a huge Nike tick on it (erm, unless you work for Nike I guess?), however, for me to dress up like that in a beverage-selling environment, frankly the only thing I'd be selling is sex. Selling myself as a desirable, sexual image.

When I read the document initially (after the pit of my stomach had finished dropping below sea level), I phoned my sister, and, while not breaking confidentiality, gave her the gist of the situation. Hearing the anger and the defiance in her voice filled me with relief - to know that I wasn't being 'silly', or overly sensitive about the issue overwhelmed me brought me to tears. My mum, my gran, and other women had the same reaction. Anger. Frustration. Disbelief. But I think maybe the most emotional reaction from me came from telling my Dad, who is not, it has to be said, an overly-gushy individual - normally, Dad sticks to the facts. Telling him about this and how it was making me feel he was silent and let me finish, then he simply sighed and said that he found it upsetting that anyone would consider his daughter not competent enough to do a job unless she was covered in a face of makeup. That I somehow wasn't as professional as a man and had to make up the difference. That I wasn't good enough as I am.

And that was the crux of the issue for me. I'm not "pretty" by our society's standards, I never have been, and I am 100% okay with that now, but I was bullied all through school in large part for how I look. For being pale. For my massive mane of curls. For my refusal to wear makeup. For my "boyish" choice of shoes and clothes. Like a lot of women, by the time I hit my twenties I was a wreck of insecurity. It has taken me years to come to love my face and body - and some days, it's still a work in progress. It has taken me decades to accept, and embrace my curly hair. And you know what, I own not one single pair of high heeled shoes, but 5 pairs of Converse Hi-Tops and I am FINE with that. Growing up I eventually came to realise that the playground bullies were just that; bullies. That I didn't need to listen to what they said - because what did they know anyway? But now... well, now the people telling me my face is not okay to be seen as it is, that my hair needs to be disguised and that comfy shoes are NOT okay... well, they're not just bullies, they can reject me for employment if I don't comply.

 As it happens I do now wear makeup most days to work - because I want to. On the other hand, if I choose not to get up 30 minutes earlier to put on a face of makeup – because I’m tired, or because I have something more pressing to do than apply lipgloss - I don't see that there's anything wrong with that either, and I certainly don’t expect to have to explain myself to an employer, or to face disciplinary action at work because of it. I have complete respect for women who go the full hog with makeup for work - up to contour and false lashes - and also for women who are there bare faced. It makes not a jot of difference to how knowledgeable, friendly or competent they are.

 If I was a man showing my bare face at work would be okay, but because I'm a woman, it isn't.

I take a minute out of each and every single day to feel grateful that I am a woman living in 21st century Scotland, and to be painfully aware of the inequalities that generations of women before me, and still women in parts of the world now endure. I am not comparing my experience to any of theirs, but my point instead is that I guess I always thought when it came down to it, I was an equal in my society. I always thought I looked professional without lipgloss, I always thought I was being hired for my ability to do a job and not how my legs look when I wear high heels. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that while I've always considered myself passionate about women's rights, I didn't necessarily ever consider that my rights might need defending. I always fought and protested and signed petitions with the abstract feeling of 'our' rights, I did feel part of a bigger cause and I did care about the outcomes, but I never necessarily felt I personally had anything at stake. But now, having been emailed by a man, confirming these grooming standards were to be adopted from day one of our (non customer facing) training, so that he could ensure I was meeting the standards, well, boy, don’t I feel belittled. To be sitting on the morning of your first day of a new job and not brushing up on some company stats, or looking forward to meeting new colleagues, but instead to be trying to get those lips looking nice and full and red, and making sure to cover that skin that looks so you know, like skin, well, colour me shocked. This was not the society I thought I lived in.
Ultimately, I'm writing this not because my experience was so out-there or shocking, quite the opposite really. I'm writing this because - as you may have seen in the news - many companies out there still think a double standard in appearance for men and women is okay, many companies think the fact that "sex sells" is justification to sexualise women, and many companies seem to disregard information about the long-term damage regular high heel wear can do to women, because hey, as long as it helps them sell products, right?. What happened to me was actually tragically commonplace - maybe you could write a similar story yourself - but I think it matters now that we do speak out about the things that we want to change, because I know I certainly don't someday want my future daughter or granddaughter to call me up and tell me they can't go to work unless they wear high heels.
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