A few weeks ago, I was asked an odd question by someone I had just met. We were having a fun, light-hearted conversation (think: laughing about the latest episode of Bachelor in Paradise and bonding over our mutual jealousy of Khloe Kardashian’s new smokin’ hot bod) when she suddenly got very serious, looked me straight in the eye, and asked me this:
“Have you ever found that the way you look and your bubbly personality holds you back in life?”
For someone who takes
approximately 3.5 hours a very long time to get done up every morning, spends approximately $250 a lot of money to get highlights every month, and is approximately 110% sure very confident that an outgoing personality is a likable personality, I was incredibly taken aback.
I left the conversation feeling uneasy and slightly attacked. What was she trying to say?
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, a few phone calls to my mom, 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 highlighted hair probably makes 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.
Personally, some of my most memorable examples of this are when when I think back to previous job interviews (that I didn’t get, of course).
Personality is not something that you can see on a resume, and I can distinctively remember a handful of terrible interviews I’ve had where the interviewer made it very clear they thought I was a giddy, over-enthusiastic idiot.
In fact, one interviewer actually said to my face that they thought I had shallow interests and wouldn’t be taken seriously in a professional setting.
Women of all ages and races across the professional world are subject to this type of judgment and discrimination everyday. It’s 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). Think: Elle Woods before she proved that she was smart. (Red flag right there.)
But for men? Possessing an outgoing personality and a well-groomed outer appearance convinces the world they should be taken more seriously, seeing as they care about relating to others and how they present themselves. (Hint: This makes sense.)
However, it’s not all bad.
I recently started working for a company (yes, with real adults) who encourages myself and everyone else in the organization to just be yourself and own your personality. I’ve expressed my insecurities about my personality to my boss and my team (who, again, are real adults) and something they said really stuck with me: the world today is about building a personal brand that will stand out, and you can’t build a personal brand with a fake personality.
So to all the twenty-something 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 be “more like men” 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 society that…wait for it…may actually be smart!?!