Make-up on the train: Why is women doing their face on public transport such an issue?

Commuter makeup rituals are a cause of debate for some. [Photo: Getty]
Commuter makeup rituals are a cause of debate for some. [Photo: Getty]

We’ve all been there: you’ve spent most of the morning sitting on the end of your bed wrapped in your bath towel, and before you know it it’s time to run out the door or risk being late for work.

For some women, this means packing their make-up bag and adding a few slicks of mascara on the train. No harm done, right? Right?

Wrong. In fact, the idea of women doing their make-up on public transport is actually rather triggering for some.

A recent reader study by the BBC on commuter etiquette found a large majority named make-up on the train one of their major pet-peeves.

One 60-year-old male reader wrote in: “Why can they not get up 10 minutes earlier and do [their make-up] at home?

“There seems to be something so totally ‘in your face’ about females who insist on their dubious ‘rights’ in this matter.”

Another reader, 59, said he was so offended by the sight he was forced to move carriages.

“I think once or twice I just stared at the person thinking that they would eventually notice and feel embarrassed. That never happened,” he told the BBC.

“It’s something for someone’s private space – their bedroom or bathroom. So to find myself sitting on a train and then suddenly inside someone’s bathroom is very unwelcome.”

As someone who witnesses women doing touch-ups on the tube every day without batting an eyelid, and is even partial to pulling out the mascara myself from time-to-time on days when bed was just a little too comfy, I found this hatred for the concept quite shocking.

What are you thoughts on women doing their makeup on the train? [Photo: Getty]
What are you thoughts on women doing their makeup on the train? [Photo: Getty]

Personally, I’m of the opinion that there’s nothing wrong with a bit of commuter glam. Of course I’m not suggesting that setting up an entire make-up station is OK, but if your tube touch-ups aren’t invading anyone’s personal space, what’s the issue?

Some argue that painting your face on public transport is the same as leaving the house half-dressed and doing up the rest of your buttons as you chortle down the Victoria line. But of course that’s silly: make-up is a choice we make and rocking up with none on is hardly going to get you a disciplinary in the office.

What do you think: is it socially acceptable to do your make-up on the tube?

This very issue came to a head last year, when one man told a woman to stop applying her make-up on the tube, overheard as saying “don’t do that, it’s vulgar.”

The man soon felt the wrath of the entire female population of the carriage, when, in an incredible act of sisterhood, every woman in the carriage began applying her make-up.

The moral of the story? No one should be able to tell anyone how to spend their commute, as long as it’s not infringing on anyone’s personal space or privacy.

Want to play chess between King’s Cross and Waterloo? Go for it. Fancy a spot of knitting on Southern Rail? It’s your call.

Make-up on the tube? If you don’t like it, go back to your newspaper.

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