Another day, another question about whether existing while female is okay with everyone. The question of if applying makeup while on public transportation is acceptable is hardly a new one. Some are opposed to it because it seems unhygienic, while others are opposed to it because they believe it looks bad to see a woman put makeup on while commuting. While the former can be somewhat understandable—the general ickiness of the bus or subway does feel like it contaminates everything—the latter comes with a whole lot of shaming. Surprise!
Vogue reports that the Tokyu Corporation, a major railway operator in the Greater Tokyo area, released a video asking viewers to “refrain from putting on makeup on the train.” They go on to say: “Women in the city are all beautiful. But they are ugly to see, at times.” From there, actress Sawa Nimura gets up in the faces of two women applying makeup on the train, asking, “Why can’t you do it before you get on the train?” It’s not about hygiene or about someone elbowing another passenger in the face while applying mascara. It’s just that the act of women putting makeup on the train is unseemly and should stop.
Interestingly, when Vogue asked some of its staffers if they believe women applying makeup on the train is acceptable, several said that they found it annoying. Junior digital assistant Tamison O’Connor says, “I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is that annoys me—I just don’t want to watch women make up their faces while I’m on my way to work. Just get up 15 minutes earlier! Of course I’d never dream of asking someone to stop. But I always have my own private eye roll when I encounter a commuter mid-beauty regime, and the germaphobe inside of me gives a slight shudder at how unhygienic it is for that woman’s poor cosmetics.”
While other Vogue staffers were in support, it’s this vague “I just don’t like it” or “get up 15 minutes earlier” refrain that’s most troubling. Women can’t win: Studies have shown that women who wear makeup are thought more highly of in the workplace, but the consequence is, as Glamour found out, an average woman loses over 3 weeks of her life getting ready in the morning. Think you’re safe if you work from home? Not so much! Shiseido, Microsoft Japan, and Skype for Business recently developed an app that applies makeup for you, much like a Snapchat-like makeup filter, for women that work from home so they don’t look tired or washed-out while video conferencing. Heaven forbid!
Can we just wake up earlier? That seems like an innocent request, except, what if that woman has to get children out the door before she heads to work? Or care for an elderly parent? Or take early calls from her colleagues in Sevastopol before she heads out the door. Maybe she just doesn’t want to get up earlier. As long as she’s not flinging elbows or invading other people’s personal space while applying makeup on the train or bus, maybe it’s her choice as to when and where she puts her makeup on. Sure, we all have own own pet peeves and secret eye rolls. That’s fine. But perhaps on this one the shade can be thrown somewhere else.