Following her article titled: Chika Uwazie: A woman’s ultimate weapon is her beauty (30 Days, 30 Voices) published here on YNaija 2 days ago, Uwazie is back to clear up any misunderstanding some readers might have interpreted from her message. Excerpts:
All of these facts are unfortunate and hard to swallow, but nonetheless women who pay more attention to their personal appearance have some modicum of benefit. Remember that these are simply correlations and are not absolutes.
A few days ago I wrote an article concerning the unfortunate truths about personal appearance and its use in the workplace. This subject is a sensitive one, and some of my points drew support from some and criticism from others. Since this was an opinion piece I wrote in haste, I would like to revisit the topic because I feel that some of my points were misconstrued.
However, I must stress that personal appearance does have an effect on how one interacts at work especially for women. We should not shy away from capitalizing on our looks while maintaining the utmost professionalism.
We have all heard of the phrase that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This applies to the workplace as well. The great thing about beauty is that it has a range. Beauty can be as simple as a woman who comes into work well groomed from head to toe. This is a lady who may not take the time to put on makeup every morning but always has manicured hands, well placed hair, and tailored clothing. Or beauty could be the woman who always has a full face of makeup on, her fashion is impeccable, and is always rocking a well-kept hairstyle. All are beautiful, as well as professional. We as women are born with feminine features that make us unique. Whether you were born to be extremely good looking or you know how to enhance your features, there is no set way of looking beautiful.
The author I referred to in my previous article, Professor Catherine Hakim from the London School of Economics never specified the exact traits of women that make us beautiful. Rather, she discusses investing in ourselves to put our best self forward. We take the time to invest in our education, network, and finances so why would our appearances be any different? It is equally important in our progression in the workplace.
Some women will say that we have been fighting against the notion of looks to advance our careers, but in the year of 2012 it is still evident that those that invest in their looks have a greater advantage in the workplace. Payscale released a report in March of 2012 about the benefits of personal appearance in the workplace. The first part of the report shows that during an interview, 72% of attractive people will get a call back for an interview versus 62% of unattractive people. Women who are 70 pounds under the average weight are considered to take home $60,000 more home versus a woman who is 30 pounds overweight. A series of tests were done against women who wear makeup versus women who have no makeup on and women who wear makeup are perceived to be more competent, likable, and trustworthy.
The report even discusses the life cycle of someone who is considered attractive and because they tend to have a higher self-esteem, they earn $70,000 more versus a person who is considered unattractive who has a lower self-esteem. All of these facts are unfortunate and hard to swallow, but nonetheless women who pay more attention to their personal appearance have some modicum of benefit. Remember that these are simply correlations and are not absolutes.
Of course to every statistic there are those who are among the exception. Will every attractive person advance in their careers, No. Will every unattractive person have a terrible career? Once again, no. It is clearly up to that person to decide how they perceive themselves, and how they want others to see them.
Some of the commentary that was made was that my article suggested that I believe sexual woman will advance in their careers. While I fully disagree with this method of advancement, it is common to hear stories of these type of woman getting promoted and favored by their boss. This is all I stated in my article. There is great risk that those individuals will have to be willing to take. Unfortunately, these methods can work in some ladies’ favour and this is a reality that we have to face. However many times, this same method can come back to haunt them in some organizations.
Investing in your looks does not mean wearing tighter clothing, or getting plastic surgery to get the boss to notice you more. There are plenty of ways to invest in your appearances and still be respected as a woman in the workplace. Personally, I do not wear make up on a daily basis. I would rather invest in the clothes I wear, and on occasion dab on a little of my favorite red lipstick. It makes me feel good to be well put together, and I encourage all women to invest in yourselves in whatever way you choose.
Men know to come to work with their best shirt, ties, and be well groomed. Why should women be any different? Why are women told to play down their looks, especially for those that advance higher on the career ladder? Some of the most remarkable women in the world are not only well educated, but know how to capitalize on their looks as well.
Michelle Obama is one of the most talked about presidential wives in history. Why? This woman is smart, keeps in shape, and is always dressed to impress. Then we have Oprah, who in her early part of her career was not always known for her looks but is now considered to be a trendsetter. Oprah literally has a glow about her and everything she touches turns into gold; from her life classes, even to wigs named after her. There is simply something captivating about a woman who has beauty and brains. Can you say a woman who knows how to use both is a foolish woman? I’m inclined to think not.
I do not expect everyone to agree with what I believe, and quite frankly the world will still go around. It may not be fair or right that those who take pride in their appearance at work are held to a higher standard, but this is reality. People react positively to good-looking people. Positive reactions are important in the workplace especially if you want to advance. I believe when we accept this truth, the topic of beauty will become less controversial.
About the author: Chika Uwazie is a Human Resources professional, and passionate about helping people advance in their career. She currently runs a blog called the Naija Careerist and is part of a startup.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija