A speed-dating service has an interesting rule: women arrive before dudes, so they can get a free makeover. Is this a helpful service, or an annoying double standard?
A tipster alerted us to SpeedSeattle's current LivingSocial deal, which states that "for speed dating events, ladies should arrive 30 minutes early for a complimentary makeover; men should arrive 15 minutes early." Our tipster speculated, "I guess women can't attract men without makeovers and men are all perfect as they are." We decided to investigate further. SpeedSeattle's website proclaims,
With a British sensibility and simplicity, we offer uncompromising value with unparalleled service. Lovely venues, complimentary gourmet appetizers, Makeovers for the Ladies, Cheeky Ice-Breakers to get the conversation going, and our lovely Hosts to assist you with anything or anyone.
Mingle, mix, and match — UK Style.
When I contacted SpeedSeattle to find out more, Office Manager Tina Allman explained the company's "British sensibility" thus:
Speed Dating in the US has traditionally been met with over the top party trimmings, huge banners declaring their arrival and some even have a gong to alert daters to move to the next table. We prefer a more subtle approach — when it is time for the lads to move on — we simply tap the gentleman on the shoulder. It seems a far more civilized approach.
I also asked why women had to arrive before men, what the makeovers involved, and whether they were available for men too. She said,
If Ladies wish to take advantage of the complimentary make-over they should arrive a half-hour early — a fabulous opportunity for touch up and tips. Many of our ladies come directly from work and find it a lovely way to feel refreshed before an event. The men get to see so many lovely ladies :-)
Most straight guys don't wear makeup, so it makes a certain amount of sense that SpeedSeattle doesn't offer on-site makeovers for them. And I'm sure plenty of women do appreciate the touchup, especially if they're coming straight from work. But SpeedSeattle's rules do make starkly clear a basic inequality of heterosexual dating — women are supposed to put more time into prepping for a date than men do. Twice as much time, to be exact.
Correction: SpeedSeattle has made it clear to me that makeovers are optional, not mandatory.
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