French job agency makeovers lure unemployed women

Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:34pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - With a touch of blush and some judiciously applied eye makeup, France's main unemployment agency is trying to lure jobless women back into the workforce by offering them a taxpayer-funded day of pampering.

The makeover drive, launched this week by the Pole Emploi agency, aims to boost the confidence of women who have been out of work for years and too busy -- or simply too discouraged -- to worry about their appearance, its organizers told Reuters.

"This is about giving them back their pluck. Makeup changes your life simply and quickly," said Regine Ferrere, a makeup artist who supervised the makeover studio. "Touching people and talking to them is far better than giving them a pill or sending them to the psychologist's office."

At the first makeover day, 10 women gave themselves over to the care of professional makeup artists and stylists. The advice they received was equal parts beauty tips, pep talk, and motivational slogans for job seekers.

"The skin needs to be perfectly clear. With the eyes, you express your sparkle, and with the mouth you express pleasure," one makeup artist told a tired-looking unemployed lady, who listened intently from a sofa.

Nearby, an unemployed photographer dressed in black tried on colorful scarves while a giant portrait of Marilyn Monroe looked on. "The mallard blue looks great on you," Cynthia Cohen an image advisor in charge of the experiment, told her.

Some of the women chosen to take part in the experiment spoke of the challenge of raising children, looking for work and maintaining a "chic" look, all at the same time.

"It's unpleasant to be out of work," said Latifa Behali, a concierge in her 40s. "I've been looking (for a job) for two years and sometimes I get discouraged, I get down. I take care of my three children, but aside from that I let myself go."   Continued...