Woman asks if makeup matters after she was turned down for job for not ‘putting enough effort’ into appearance

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A New York-based millennial on TikTok asked her followers if not wearing makeup hurt female job seekers in a recent video that drew thousands of comments.

Melissa Weaver, a former recruiter, shared her recent interview experience getting turned down for a top-tier role in HR at a tech company despite being well qualified for the role.

“The interview went so well. Every question she asked I had a great answer for,” Weaver shared in videos picked up by Fortune. “My background and experience aligned perfectly with what the role entails.”

She was “bummed” to learn afterward that she had been turned down from continuing onto the next phase of the interview process. Disappointed and confused, Weaver reached out to the recruiter to ask for feedback on why she was turned down and received a surprising response.

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Weaver said she received an email back explaining that while her background, experience, personal goals and values aligned perfectly with the company’s, they were concerned she hadn’t “put in enough effort” into her appearance for the level of the role she was interviewing for.

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She further explained she was wearing a nice top and blazer with modest earrings for the interview, along with having her nails done and hair professionally styled for the meeting; however, she was not wearing makeup. By process of elimination, she felt that must’ve been the reason for the comment.

“My question is, does not wearing makeup, for women, to job interviews or to jobs, make it seem like they aren’t putting in as much effort or care into the job?” she posed.

Weaver’s video went viral and prompted a discussion on how much appearance matters when interviewing for a new job or within the workplace.

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Thousands of commenters felt the remark was discriminatory and sexist.

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“That honestly feels like discrimination. Not hiring you based on your looks?” one top comment read

“It’s wild she said that in an email to you– this would never be said to a man,” another person posted. Both comments received over 25,000 likes in agreement.

One person identifying herself as an employment lawyer in the comments section advised Weaver to seek legal counsel for the matter.

However, Weaver responded to critics in a follow-up video saying that she would not shame the company or the recruiter over the decision as she didn’t want to hurt her job prospects at other companies. She also didn’t feel she was a victim of gender discrimination.

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Companies in the U.S. can make hiring decisions based on appearance, she argued.

“While a company can not not hire a woman just because she’s a woman, they can not hire a woman because of how she presents herself,” Weaver responded. “Just like the same way a company can choose to not hire a man because he has an unkempt beard or a facial tattoo… is that fair? I’ll let you decide that.”

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Weaver also made clear she did not have ill-intentions with posting the original video and simply wanted to get feedback on how people felt about whether makeup was expected in the workplace.

“It wasn’t to call out a company, it wasn’t to invoke anger or to prove a point. I simply just wanted people’s opinions on women wearing makeup in the workplace,” she said before adding that she was very appreciative of all the supportive comments she had received in her job search.

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