Sunday, 3 April 2016

Professional Makeup: The Struggles of the Young Manager

If you haven't been skipping over my personal blathering on this blog, you know a couple of things: I finished my MLIS last May, and have launched myself into the world as a hospital librarian. I love being a hospital librarian. I enjoy the hell out of my job most days, and while part of that might be because I'm still really, really enjoying the part where when I leave work, I bring nothing home with me, most of it is because I find my work satisfying and fun. 

However, working in the hospital environment means I have to adhere to a strict dress code: no jeans ever (there is no casual Friday. Considering I spent most of my internship in jeans, I find this to be a personal affront to my slacker style. Also my wardrobe is still mostly university student chic and therefore unwearable at work), no facial piercings, no shoes higher than 3", no scented products, nothing made of denim, and so on. It's quite a lengthy list of what we can't wear, and while most of it makes a lot of sense, and the dress code is basically business casual, with some stipulations for going into clinical areas and upholding patient safety. All of these are good things and I tend to agree with them. Except for maybe the jeans thing, because books are dirty and I'm not interested in dealing with that all over my dress pants. I also don't have to adhere to some of the jewellery and hand stuff regarding rings and nail polish, because I don't work with patients. 


A pretty standard work look. Featuring Haus of Gloi Rosy Lipped. I do tend to wear subtle contour (Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark), highlighter (usually Rascal Cosmetics Winter's Glow lately), and blush (MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Star Wonder is my go to) but if there's anything I deliberate over in the morning, it's lips. even if I'm wearing a subtle colour.

The thing I struggle with are the unwritten rules. My hospital is a fairly conservative environment when it comes to dress, and I'm a lot younger than most of the other non-clinical staff. Compounded with this is the fact that I'm a manager. A pretty low level one - I have exactly one person who reports to me - but I do get lumped in with department heads, because my manager is another city, and so to represent the library in various meetings and to pass on memos and such, it falls to me. 

I am not only young, I look younger than I am. And when you're a solid twenty years younger than everyone at a meeting AND new to the hospital AND new to the area, you tend to feel scrutinized. Is everyone judging me? Probably not; my style choices have in fact gained several compliments. Everyone loves a cat print dress. 


Some default lipstick choices. L-R: Limnit What Lies Beneath, Lancome Shine Lover in Twisted Beige, MAC Mystical, and MAC Viva Glam VI

But I do feel a pressure to dress not only appropriately, but correctly. I first felt this pressure at the meeting where I first realized how much younger I was than everyone else. A meeting where I was wearing blue nail polish. And there was nothing wrong with my blue nail polish! But I felt like I had crossed some sort of line that I didn't know about until that moment. I'm more or less fine with my clothing choices and am trying to build up a wardrobe of entirely quirky print dresses. It's the makeup where I get stuck.

I realized this first last week, when I took a second look at my library technician and realized she was wearing blue lipstick. And it looked amazing on her. It was a lovely dark blue lipstick, looked great with her skin tone, and didn't look out of place at all. It worked perfectly. She made blue lipstick look professional (and technically, odd colours of lipstick are not against the dress code). We talked about lipstick for a bit after I gushed over the colour on her, and she encouraged me to be bolder with my choices.


Some bolder, more unusual options: Bite Matte Creme in Braised Maple, Fyrinnae Lip Lustre in Last Kiss, and Limnit Goodness Graycious

I do gravitate toward more conservative lipstick colours, but since I no longer wear perfume to work (I slap it on as soon as I get home), I've been looking for other ways to express how I feel on a daily basis. Lipstick is an easy one, and so is nail polish. But I also am trying to be taken seriously by the people I provide services for, and so I worry that by choosing bolder lipstick or offbeat colours of nail polish, I'm crossing an invisible line.

So at what cost do I wear bolder makeup? I don't know. 


A sampling of colours from the last week and a bit. MAC Viva Glam VI, Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy, Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce, Lancome Shine Lover in Twisted Beige, MAC Mystical, HelloWaffle Technic

Being a librarian is the kind of career choice where people stop and look at you and say things like "Seriously?" and "Aren't those obsolete?" and "You have to go to grad school to learn how to shelve books?" (You go to grad school to prepare yourself for a lifetime of those questions. Or it felt like it.) Librarianship attracts a certain set of personality traits. And after having gone to a library school where we shared a floor with the business school, I can tell you that it attracts people who like to wear bolder things. Who like strange prints and red lipstick and have lots of body mods. Not everyone, of course, but a good many. I know that I'm certainly raising the mean number of rings in the average employee's ears at my workplace. It attracts creative people who like to express themselves via appearance. So I do feel there is an expectation that I should be a little odd. (Probably not wrong, but I don't think I'm any odder than the average person.) I have yet to figure out where it intersects with appropriate for my role.


About as bold as I typically go: NARS Audacious in Audrey, Bite Luminous Creme in Kir Royale, Limnit Olly Olly Oxen Free

I do try to keep my makeup choices more conservative on days that I have meetings with certain groups, or I know I'll be presenting or teaching. A lot of my departmental meetings are done via webcam, which tends to mute my lipstick choices anyway. Plus we're comfortable enough to snack on webcam in front of one another, so wearing some slightly offbeat lipstick is not a big deal. And I do tend to gravitate toward work-appropriate colours, for the most part. And I'm most definitely overthinking this. Still, there are a lot of unspoken rules 

How do you walk the line of expressing yourself, but still worthy of being taken seriously? 


Tinted balms remain the safest of choices. Haus of Gloi Rosy Lipped, Haus of Gloi Rose Gold, Rituel de Fille Enchanted Lip Sheer in Love-Ache, HelloWaffle *Sigh* and HelloWaffle Technic

As the sole on-site librarian, I have to be prepared for anyone to come in and ask a question. And it could be anyone in the hospital, from upper management to front-line workers. How I present myself matters. And I think for now, I'm erring on the side of caution with my lip colours, even though I've been craving more pigment and stepping out of my comfort zone. As boring as it might be sometimes. I don't need to stick out even more in a meeting - unless of course, wearing bright lipstick becomes a way to promote the library, and I don't think I can quite make that leap yet. 


This is more orangey and metallic in real life. Fyrinnae Last Kiss. Maybe someday it will make it to work.

No comments:

Post a Comment

2018 Reads: July to September

I did make the grand statement that I wanted to read 52 books this year - but at the six month mark, I was only at 18 books. I don't thi...