Does #nomakeup trend help women?

From the skies to the stage, women are taking a stand for equality by wiping off their make-up, sparking a bare-faced trend that won rising numbers of followers globally but also triggered vocal defenders of the benefits of cosmetics.

An online #nomakeup campaign dates back about three years to when US singer Alicia Keys vowed not to wear make-up anymore but it has gained momentum this year with other celebrities and industries following suit.

British singer Jess Glyne made headlines in February when she took off her make-up during a Brit Awards performance while singing “Thursday”, a song about not wanting to wear makeup.

Airlines Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus this month updated guidelines stating air hostesses no longer had to wear make-up.

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A spokeswoman from Virgin Atlantic said the move was made to reflect a change in the aviation industry, where highly coiffured female hostesses were once nicknamed trolley dollies, and Aer Lingus said it reflected “changing dress norms.”

University student Yim Ji-su helped spark a debate in February about daily sexism in beauty-obsessed South Korea by ditching her make-up and shaving her hair into a buzz cut.

Abi Wright, founder of UK-based Inspiring Margot, a company working to build women’s confidence in the workplace, said wearing make-up should be a choice, not an expectation.

“If, as women, we’re expected to wear make-up then that simply says our appearance is more important than our skills and abilities,” Wright told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It highlights yet again that our society associates a woman’s worth by appearance and nothing more.”

Laws on dress

In Britain, discrimination at work over make-up or clothing is illegal under the Equality Act 2010 but this law has come under scrutiny since a 2016 campaign by Nicola Thorp who was sent home from work without pay for refusing to wear high heels.

This prompted a parliamentary inquiry that led to guidance setting out how the law might apply when an employer required female staff to wear high heels, make-up, or revealing clothing.

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