- Beauty & Style
- Contact Us
Like Us, Follow Us
Your lifestyle, your quirk
I recently read an article about a young woman who was strongly hinted to by her boss that a change in her appearance was needed in order to move up in the company. Just reading the article annoyed me – because it’s not an isolated incident.
It’s not that the young woman in the article was dressed inappropriately, but she wasn’t dressed up enough in the (female) upper management’s opinion. After reluctantly upping her work wardrobe from “business casual” to “business chic,” applying full makeup daily, and taking the extra time to style her hair every morning, the female employee was eventually rewarded with a promotion. She insists she didn’t change her work performance – just her appearance – which suggests the unfortunate truth that females’ appearance still factors in far more in their business success than a male’s appearance does.
We have not quite reached gender equality in our world, despite our proud proclamations of how progressive our country is.
As a work-from-home freelancer, this article reminds me of my corporate days and stirs a sigh of relief that I don’t have to deal with that crap anymore. I do 99% of my work via email, so my clients have no idea what I’m wearing, how my makeup is done, how (or if) my hair is styled, or what my wardrobe may consist of. And I like it that way, because my performance as a writer and editor has absolutely nothing to do with what I look like.
I actually revel in the fact that those I interact with for work daily each have a different idea of what I look like, just based on our email and occasional phone conversations. I like to surprise people and sometimes offer tidbits of my life beyond work to drop them a hint, but in the end, it just isn’t necessary for them to be able to picture my face when interacting with me. They can picture any face they want to. I don’t care. I just want them to listen to my words and communicate clearly back to me.
In the past, the facelessness of working via computer has worked greatly to my benefit. I was in an upper management position in my mid-20s, and the writers working for me ranged from recent college grads to retired teachers. If they knew my age, or could see my face and then know that I was at least significantly younger than them, I firmly believe I would not have benefited from the respect I received from some of them. The younger writers may have seen me more as a peer and less as a boss, while the older writers may have thought I was too young to be directing them in anything. With my age being completely out of the picture, I was judged solely on my ability to communicate directions, offer construction criticism, and word my praise, which is exactly what I was being paid to do.
That being said, I have no problem with who I am or how I conduct my work, as I feel I am a professional – no matter what I’m wearing. I am a college graduate with two BAs, I am still in my 20s, I am an ultra-marathoner, and I frequently work in my pajamas because I do the bulk of my work before the sun – and my 11-month-old daughter – rises, and after 8 p.m., when my daughter is asleep. Sometimes, I am still in my sweat-covered running clothes while typing away, as I take advantage of a few extra found moments to work while my daughter snoozes in the jogging stroller. So what? Why any of that should affect the respect I receive from work, I don’t know. Only the quality of my work should determine if a client likes my work and would hire me again.
I hope in the future, as working remotely becomes more commonplace, appearance (beyond simply being hygienic and presentable, of course) plays less of a role in determining career advancement. As our culture continues to become more fascinated with celebrities with impossibly perfect (read: surgically enhanced) bodies and faces, I’m not exactly holding my breath that the workplace will become immune to the social pressures and influences, but as a woman and a mom, I sure would like better for myself and my daughter.
The young woman in the article I read shared that she gradually went back to her original way of dressing, applying her makeup, and simply pulling her hair back into a ponytail after she was promoted – and no one said a word. Although she did “play the game” to get the promotion, I was happy to read that she was eventually true to herself and went back to letting her work speak for itself.