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The subject of makeup application has come up in recent debate in the media due to a video released by a Japanese railway. The railway has urged its female passengers to avoid doing their makeup during their morning commute. The company in question is call Tokyu Corp., and the reaction to the video has seen both positive feedback and negative backlash.

Tokyu Corp. cited the motivation behind the video was an attempt to have all passengers be considerate of their fellow commuters, which also includes individuals engrossed in their smartphones. However, it’s not just about the motivation behind the video, it’s the content of it as well. It talks about how in theory all women are beautiful, but sometimes they can be ugly. So, why not take care of that ugly bit before leaving home?



The Makeup Commute Debate

Surprisingly, even women are pretty divided on the topic of makeup application during the morning commute. So, is it really appropriate for women to finish getting ready during their morning train ride? In Britain, 42% of woman believe it’s completely unacceptable, even if that means you’re getting 20-30 minutes more shut-eye a night.

One reader of the Telegraph even wrote a letter desperately trying to understand why women found it necessary to apply makeup while on the subway. The response was quite simple: because it’s a timesaving technique, especially during the busy, work-filled week most women professionals deal with. Plus, society expects the female portion of the populations to get dolled-up before heading into work.

In fact, it begs the question: If men had the same expectations, would they apply their morning faces on the train? It’s safe to say, probably. Humans are creatures of habit, and when you formulate the most efficient morning routine you can, you tend to stick to it.

Why Is Personal Preference a Public Issue?

Are there more constructive ways to spend your commute time? Of course. You probably already have a slew of ideas brewing in your mind. Depending on the length of your commute, there is a list of activities that can help you get ahead in your daily schedule. You can even multitask during your makeup application and listen to an audiobook or podcast. Working women today are the queens of multitasking – stylists even have tips and tricks to make the most of getting ready on each type of commuter transport.

What this debate boils down to is simply that makeup application may annoy you or someone else on the train, the same way that person with the habit of taking up two seats to read the paper does. However, it’s really none of your business what people do during their morning routine. Why is this even an issue, when there are so many other topics out there concerning public transport?

Instead, why not create a video that focuses on stopping sexual harassment or assault on public transport or unruly behavior while under the influence of drugs or alcohol? These issues have a more negative impact on passenger travel than the appearance of a woman’s face. Let it be each and every woman’s prerogative where and when they finish preparing themselves for work.

Besides, it’s a risky business attempting to apply eyeliner in the subway anyway. It takes skills to do that in a moving train car without poking out your own eye. So if you want to give it a try, go right ahead. That’s your choice.

Holly Whitman is a feminist writer and political journalist, originally from London but now based in Washington DC. Her work has been featured on Feministing, Fortune, Babble, Yahoo Finance and more. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman or at her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

Top photo: WNYC/Flickr

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Tags: makeup , commute
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