Why It's OK For Women To Apply Makeup On The Tube

Photo: Maria DelRio
Sixty-seven percent of women in the UK apply some form of cosmetics in transit, the Guardian revealed today. Some men, and women, feel this behaviour is unbecoming – a black mark on a woman’s otherwise good name in the Central Line carriage. Public outcry has ranged from men telling women off on the Tube, to Telegraph reader Sandra's letter of complaint accusing young women of shattering the societal illusion of a painted lady! The comments under the Guardian article today say the practice is “rude” and "against common courtesy”, and a Metro survey from 2016 found that 26% of people thought it was "definitely not acceptable."
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Well, I’ll bet 67% of men fart on public transport. I’ve been groped more times than I can even remember at rush hour, and twice been a victim of men pleasuring themselves while sat opposite me in empty carriages – but that’s a different story. On the more mildly irritating end of the spectrum, a man recently hung up a bag of dry cleaning on the rail directly above my head in an extreme display of manspreading, leaving ample room for his own head as he sat down next to me. Drunk people vomit on the train, sober people read 50 Shades Of Grey, football fans get on and cause a riot, people with colds sneeze, and sad girls (also me) listen to Sia’s “Breathe Me” at full volume while sobbing into a receipt. I’m not about to say that women applying makeup on public transport make Britain great, but it certainly shouldn’t make the top 12 list of annoying commuter behaviour. A woman who can apply a perfect cat-eye flick without extending her elbows even one centimetre in the moment’s stop between Bank and St Paul’s should be saluted, not trash-tweeted.
With the average commute at 57 minutes, applying makeup on the way is just part of the multitasking, time-efficient life of a busy ‘modern woman’. Leaving work 10 minutes early to "touch up" in the toilet isn't always an option. And if a man were to put makeup on on the train, wouldn’t we encourage him? Imagine the hero worship that would ensue if an older woman (often the loudest tutters) were to pull out a wireless hairdryer for a quick blow-dry between High St Ken and Paddington.
True that anything which gets into other people’s airways is a no-go, but within the 10cm space a woman can call her own on public transport, she should be free to eat her lunch in peace, and do an eye, a lip and a cream-blush cheek if it makes her day as a busy woman 10 minutes easier.
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