French rail operator, SNCF, has been accused of sexism after issuing a brochure that includes essential beauty tips for its female staff.
The document, titled Astuces pour finir en beauté (Tricks to end up pretty), provides several sexist beauty tips, including guidelines on how women should smell, what they should wear, and what makeup to use.
One particular section, “The Essentials of Beauty,” advises female staff to use “discreet beige to soft red lipstick” and to groom eyebrows carefully in order to “intensify your gaze.” They are also told to use a “light and subtle” deodorant and perfume, and to “subtly paint their nails” in a transparent, pastel pink or red color.
— Balle de sexisme (@balledesexisme) December 15, 2014
The SNCF’s female beauty tips have triggered an angry reaction, with many people believing the advice to be incredibly sexist. There was heavy criticism of the tip to wear blusher that is “pink for light skin and peach for darker complexions,” with many people saying that black ticket collectors would not likely use these colors.
The SNCF rejected the criticism, and published the document online in order to highlight that they had provided similar beauty tips and advice for male staff. These include a section on mustaches and beards, which while “fashionable”, must be kept “neatly trimmed,” the document stipulates.
“A beard and a moustache are fashionable. If you choose this style please keep them clean or choose a regular shave.”
Despite receiving criticism from all quarters for the rather conservative and sexist beauty tips, the company said it only wished to make helpful suggestions.
“This is only advice to make the most out their uniforms to provide a customer service that is a professional as possible. There’s nothing compulsory about it.”
Although rail bosses defended the beauty tips and grooming advice, they withdrew the brochure by Thursday.
In a statement attempting to justify the decision to publish the ill-advised beauty tips, SNCF said they would “momentarily withdraw the release of this guide in order to rework it with its agents.”
Le Figaro, who have published extracts of the document, noted that the beauty tips for female staff were highlighted in pink, while guidelines for male employees were blue. The male section also contained far fewer beauty tips and grooming suggestions than the female section of the document.