Appearance is extraordinarily powerful because it’s the first filter. We’ve all heard this. Looking “polished” or “pulled together”—is a professional’s most important physical asset. But there’s a fine line between being well groomed and glamorous. and falling in the latter category has its pitfalls.
For someone who takes a very long time to get done up every morning, spends half the salary to get highlights every month, and is very confident that an outgoing personality is a likable personality, a suggestion by my septuagenarian American boss to do away with the highlights and sport some ‘greys’ left me incredibly taken aback. He added that people (our clients, parents in this case) will not take me seriously. I left the conversation feeling uneasy and slightly attacked. What was he trying to say? But the words kept echoing in my head. Further to that my Aunty-ji of a conventional boss said that there is a fine line between being glamorous and well groomed.
Has my mascara-game gone awry? Is my ombre not as subtle as I thought? Is my personality really that annoying?
Well, numerous hours of self-reflection, and probably hundreds of beauty vlogger YouTube videos later, I realized the answer is yes. Yes, my mascara-game can seem excessive to some. Yes, my blonde highlights probably make me look like a dumb blonde to some. Yes, my outgoing, bubbly, loud personality may come off as flaky and ditzy to some.
So yes, the way I look and my bubbly personality have probably held me back in life.
Because unfortunately for women, this combo usually paints a target on our back. Especially at our work place. Women of all ages and races across the professional world are subject to this type of judgment and discrimination everyday. And moreso in India. Because being fashionable or glamorous is not synonymous with being efficient or erudite. Infact, quite the opposite. Good-looking experts are seen as more interesting but less able. This stereotypical mindset is affecting our progress in the work place, but more importantly, it’s affecting our self-esteem.
When women are bubbly, outgoing, and loud, they are seen as ditzy, annoying, and attention-seekers. When men are bubbly, outgoing, and loud, they are seen friendly, charismatic, and approachable. When women put time and money into what they look like (i.e. make up, hair, clothing), they are seen as shallow, flaky, and nothing but a pretty face. When men put time and money into what they look like (i.e. facial hair, hair styles, clothing) they are seen as put-together, well-groomed, and excellent at marketing themselves. Therefore, when women possess both an outgoing, bubbly personality, and a more glamorous appearance, they are often not taken seriously in a work place (or in life).
Advice To The Glamorous Women Out There
So to all the glamorous women out there who are struggling to be taken seriously in the working world, or in any world, I have a little advice.
Don’t stop wearing the make up that makes you feel good about yourself.
Don’t stop getting your hair done or wearing those clothes that make you feel good about yourself.
And most importantly, don’t stop being you just because a few stereotypes tell us we shouldn’t feel good about ourselves.
The world is changing, and hopefully one day women won’t have to try to “fit in” to be taken seriously. But until then, keep being that fashionable, fun, creative, bubbly and smart girl that you are and kick seriously ass at whatever you do.
Because the only way we will ever see any change is if we stop buying into the stereotypes and start showing the world that you can be so obsessed with the Kardashians that it consumes every inch of your being and be a fully functioning member of the workplace.