According to this happy little news roundup stumbled across on Jezebel (while I was actually searching for a friend’s article on Persephone), I am the architect of my own employment demise by looking like, well, myself. If you’ve done any looking whatsoever, you may have noticed I’m not the most conventional girl. If you’re too lazy to look, I’ll save you the trouble:
BAM. Now I’ll let you in on a little secret–when I’m not being self-indulgent on the internet (see what I did there?) I’m taking pictures of other people so they can be self-indulgent on the internet. In real life I almost never look this good. My eyeliner usually looks like the 24-hours-after-this-photo, I discovered this weekend I accidentally spent ten dollars on non-waterproof mascara (why does that even exist?), and my skin is never this porcelain-perfect, even with expensive foundation and something called ‘primer’ that apparently isn’t just for cars anymore. Also, not appearing in this picture are the two months’ worth of incredibly dark roots to offset my rainbow hair.
Having very visible tattoos, piercings, and ‘alternative’ hair, I get into a lot of discussions about the impression I make on others. I’m consistently told that my aesthetic is a liability, and will hold me back regardless of how eminently qualified or competent I am regarding life and skills. The ‘snap judgments’ mentioned in the above articles will prevent me from winning friends and influencing people, and as I’ve been told this is The Thing To Do, I should not be stuffing my pockets with rocks before I jump into the ocean.
On one hand, articles like the above make me, like Ms. Stokes, want to flip a table. In both cases, the aesthetic elements addressed are uniquely female–makeup, chipped nail polish, purses, and lipstick shades. I wouldn’t be so audacious as to suggest men aren’t subjected to some visual critique–sight is, after all, the first impression most people have to go on in most situations–but excepting the highest levels of executive muckery I sincerely doubt they are subjected to such a detailed level of scrutiny. My boyfriend started a new job today. His impression: “Everyone but me was wearing a polo shirt. I felt a little out of place in my flannel button-down.”
On the other hand, this kind of microscopic evaluation of women who are selling ‘business casual,’ but apparently lacking panache, almost make me feel better. It reinforces that after a point it doesn’t fucking matter how I’ve modified myself, because I too am the type of woman to change into dressy shoes after my commute and have a purse with mysterious marshmallow Fluff on it (true fact: I had to google the brand of purse she mentions. I am no fashionista). In technically nice clothes and with technically nice makeup, with my hair pulled back and tidy and wearing shoes that make me sound like the most ladylike of ladies, I am still a caricature of failure. I’ve got an almost supernatural knack for dressing down an outfit–everything looks casual on me, regardless what color my hair is and how many tattoos are showing.
Luckily, I am also a confident and hilarious ball of personality, so I can convey overconfidence without suffocating my interviewer in perfume. Does my cultivated pallor suggest that I will be sickly, and therefore miss too much work being ill, or does it suggest I’m the troglobite of the modern office, adapted to fluorescent cube life? Does my hair tell people that I ‘must be so artsy,’ as the horrible trolls who frequent craft stores used to tell me, or should it warn people off like the bold coloration of poisonous rainforest animals?
Irrelevant! Because even if, as some drunk fuck once told me at a bar, ‘I cover my tattoos, take out my piercings, and dye my hair back to normal, I might almost be pretty,’ I truly would flip a table before I’d sacrifice an hour of sleeping time each day to coif my hair like that would make me better at answering phones.
So remember, ladies. Don’t waste work on your resume and life skills! Hit a spa, get a deep conditioning treatment, and do something to minimize those pores. If Ms. Stern at Debenhams and the results of her survey are to be believed, “Your beauty regime holds the key to securing that dream job…. ‘They say it takes 30 seconds for interviewers to make their minds up about a candidate, but it could be down to a set of beauty blunders many people aren’t even aware of, that makes or breaks an interview.”
If I’ll lose points for A) smudged mascara, B) no mascara, and C) perfect mascara, the only correct answer is clearly D) Go fuck yourself.