Allotment sexism debate. Can women get lippy in the garden?

Can women, particularly women wearing lipstick, garden? Some people seem to be struggling with the idea that they might be able to. Lucy Bloom, a gardener, Instagrammer and Beechgrove Garden contributor who lives in Maryhill and has an allotment in Glasgow, recently went viral on social media after she responded to comments made by followers about her appearance.

As Bloom has described, she had been getting increasing numbers of messages on her Instagram account @lucy_bloom, chiefly on the posts of pictures where she was wearing make-up. She said: “The tone of the comments ranged from ‘you don’t need to do this’ or ‘it’s a workplace, you’ll get sweaty, you won’t need it.’”

So what’s the problem with the lipstick? Does it contain some secret dangerous herbicide?

Good question. The lipstick is safe, normal lipstick. But some people – and it seems like these are mostly men – have expressed their disapproval.

One follower, for instance, wrote to Lucy saying: “I love your account and I’ve followed it for a while but I really hate it when you wear lipstick to your allotment. I don’t think it’s really what gardening is about. I know you don’t do it all the time, I followed this girl for a while and all her pictures had bright red lipstick it was ridiculous!”

So this is one of those stories where where women get abused and trolled for looking like they care about their appearance … as opposed to stories where women get trolled for looking like they don’t care about their looks?

That’s right – the only correct gardening look, it appears, is the one in which a woman looks as if she got dressed in the dark and managed to avoid looking in all the mirrors on the way to the plot. 

How did Bloom respond?

In blooming marvellous fashion, by getting a shoot done with Emerald photography in a glamorous Frida Kahloesque outfit and by creating a reel on the subject that went viral.

I always thought gardeners were wholesome types whose only sexism might be a preference for a female dioecious fruiting plant?

Exactly. This only goes to prove that sexism is everywhere – and especially to be found in spaces that are thought to belong to the male gender.

As Bloom has pointed out: “It seems gardening is traditionally a women’s space but allotmenting is traditionally a male space.

“I don’t get that much slake for having lipstick on in my garden potting up a plant, but as soon as I’m in the allotment with a shovel in my hand it’s another story.

“That’s a boy’s space and to enact that much femininity there is wrong/threatening/frowned upon.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992