Chika Uwazie: A woman’s ultimate weapon is her beauty (30 Days, 30 Voices)

Chika

It is common to hear stories about how good looking women are offered good jobs because their boss is attracted to them. These are women that come into work with pencil skirts, cleavage showing, and well made up faces on a daily basis.

“Beauty is an outward gift, which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.” – Ralph Emerson.

As women, we have always been told to use our intellect to become just as credible as men, but we often  play down our looks to become equal partners. Recently, Catherine Hakim, the author of ‘Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital’ challenged that notion and told women to use their looks to get ahead.

The book uses the example of a young lady who lost her job at a financial institution after giving it her all for ten years. After investing in an expensive suit, losing weight, and taking part in a beauty makeover she was able to obtain a new job paying her 50% more than her old one.

The research shows that women who are considered plain-looking get fewer promotions and a lower salary. On the flip-side, women who wear makeup daily are perceived to be more competent and are more likely to receive a call back after an interview. Catherine argues that there is a beauty premium at the workplace which awards a higher salary to women who are considered more attractive, over the course of their careers. I began to think about this theory in the Nigerian context, and concluded that this same theory can be applied to Nigerian women.

Women in Nigeria are obsessed with makeup and beauty products. Every day, another makeup artist is on the rise, and her job is to paint the queue filled with women waiting to get their faces transformed. We love fashion; we want to look good and will even sell all valuables to be able to put Brazilian weave on our head. Clearly, not all Nigerian women behave in this manner, but we have to really ask if those that are not obsessed with their beauty tend to get less opportunities to get ahead in life.

 Bianca Ojukwu who won Ms. Intercontinental went on to take on Minister of Diasporan Affairs and is Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ghana. It may never be clear if she is even qualified to hold those titles, but nonetheless her looks have played a part in her advancement into prominent roles in government. It is common to hear stories about how good-looking women are offered good jobs because their boss is attracted to them. These are women that come into work with pencil skirts, cleavage showing, and well made up faces on a daily basis.

 Let’s face it; women who look good in Nigeria are held to a different standard. Other women envy them, and men want to be with them. I always thought it was ironic how we yell “shame!” to women who use their looks to get ahead in life yet we look down upon women who do not take care of themselves. If someone told me, “I will give you a raise if you come to work with make up on everyday”, why wouldn’t I jump at the chance? Look at Kim Kardashian; she has practically used her looks to build an empire. Her brand has expanded globally. I may not agree with all of her tactics, but I must commend her for her business savvy.

 It is time to stop condemning those that know how to leverage their beauty.

Now of course, beauty can only take you so far; to become another Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala you must possess the brain. I believe I have been blessed with both, and while I still haven’t mastered leveraging my looks, I definitely want to invest more in my appearance. You may call it vanity, but the power of beauty is overwhelming. I say take advantage of having beauty and brains. It may be the source of your next opportunity.

What is your take on leveraging beauty to advance in the workplace? Do you personally use your beauty to get ahead in life? Drop your comments below!

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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.

@ChikaUwazie

Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

UPDATE: The article has been edited to remove the errors. Apologies to our readers.

 

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Comments (56)

  1. Pingback: #30Days30Voices: Chika Uwazie clarifies: The beauty debate at work | YNaija

  2. "What is your take on leveraging beauty to advance in the workplace? Do you personally use your beauty to get ahead in life? Drop your comments below!"

    Funny no one answered the writers question. Plese lets stop allowing hates/sentiments becloud our intelligence.

  3. I am an avid reader of chikas articles both on linkedIn and nairaland and there is no gainsaying that she educates are teeming readers all the time. However, like some few gentlemen and ladies that remained decent in their comments, I equally have some reservations about the article. The points were not clearly marshalled out and there was no distinction between what is moral and amoral. You are a role model and you should please "emphasize" more on morals all the time.
    Also, from the way you responded,you appeared too defensive which IMO made you make those typos. Pls get use to "see-no-goods" we have on social media.
    Good job you doing, thanks for the career advice you gave me sometimes back.It went a long way!
    Waiting to learn something new from your next read.

    N.B. Bianca was a special assistant not Minister.

  4. Chika,welldone its not easy.Your writng will get better with time,practice and much criticism.

  5. Dear Chika I understand where you're coming from and I agree with your article to an extent, however you failed to marshal out your points well, this article seems rushed, like you were trying to meet a deadline. Beauty and brains is most definitely a killer combination but beauty can only get you so far. Yet looks are very important and that's just the reality of things, even in the corporate world. A former calssmate of mine who made 1st class both in university and in law school was offered a job in one of the top law firms in Nigeria. He's very bright, but after a year or so he lost the job after tons of complaints, reason being that his dressing is very poor, his carriage is poor, and generally he's just poorly packaged and does not reflect the true image of the firm. Looks do play a role to an extent. My advice tough is that you spend more time writing your articles and proofreading as well cos the grammatical errors make one doubt your pedigree.

  6. Aunty Chika, why do you assume Bianca was appointed because of her beauty? Do you not see this as an attack on her person? Why do you then think people shouldn't attack your person? You need to take a seat. Sit all the way down. Oh and for a self acclaimed beauty and brains carrier, your grammatical errors are astonishing.

  7. LMAO. But chika nne, u ain't even pretty so how about u take ur own advise and invest in improving ur looks. SMH @ that shot at NOI.

  8. Chika's article has elicited a lot of ugly response. In my opinion, her response has done the damage control because the points are better stated than the initial article.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 I will score you 4 on this article.

  9. I like the article. I've got the brains, now to maximize my beauty 😉

  10. Much ado about nothing.

    Why is it difficult to understand what Chika wrote? She talked about the power of beauty mixed with a brain.

    Is that too difficult to understand my fellow Nigerians?

    Na wa o

  11. I think your assertion is based on a negative stereotype. It is sexist and does nothing for womankind, you have slandered nigerian women by your shallow write up. If beauty/ looks ruled the world then beauty queens would run it.the world of success is merit based. And all the women- success ful women did not get to where they are based on their looks or sexual appeal.it is only an vain, ignorant and LAZY woman that belive in beauty to get ahead in life.

  12. Looks is great but how far can it get you? Is it needed to become a great surgeon, architect, teacher, leader? God forbid a terrible accident happens & the face is gone, does it mean your progress in life is halted? I don't know whether Bianca is qualified for those positions you mentioned or not but it's definitely not because of her beauty. One doesn't need to be an expert in Logic to know that qualified or not it's probably more because of her last name!

  13. *……..has her facts wrong……… I meant to say!

  14. Chika, thank you for that beautiful write-up and please a part 2 is needed. I still can't stop laughing at some of the angry outbursts and insulting remarks – guess some of us still live in Uglytopia and are just unaware that Beautiful People will Always have the edge… Wake up people, Beauty & Brains have and will always be a lethal & powerful combination that any truly Smart woman will learn to use to her advantage. I've had the opportunity to work with very intelligent and beautiful women entrepreneurs – their success stories has inspired me to rise to the top myself. So as the maxim goes, I'll say – Maybe she's born with it. Maybe its Maybelline. **Who cares which it is as long as it enhances her options!
    To Ynaija – how can I contact Chika Uwazie please. Me & her gots things to run…lol
    Cheers to all the beautiful women out there!

  15. OKshorty1 probably echoed my thoughts. Its obvious the writter is a starter in the HR business or she consults for unstructured organizations, judging from her inferences. Her assertions about Bianca also goes to show she didn't do her research properly and therefore has her facts right! For the records, Bianca's appointments were politically motivated!!! Enough said.

  16. Ok, getting past the personal attacks, why this article is in poor taste is this. you're not arguing from a morally upright perspective. I'm not debating anymore whether women do get ahead based on looks, lets assume they do, does that make it right? You article seems to suggest yes, and you want to do it too to get ahead. This is where we have a problem. you're saying its ok to objectify women regardless of how much brains they have, how they look is key. a lot of wrong things happen in everyday life, just cos people do it does not make it right. if anything we should be trying to make the world a better place, not worse. should i go into government and steal money because others do it? statistically ppl in government positions are richer, more successful. no? then you should not use your looks to try to get ahead in life, and then come out in public and try to justify it. hope this makes sense to you.

  17. Good article, points not well articulated though. But it says d truth, which unfortunately, many would not want to accept. If u want to get on in an organisation, don't rely on your brains alone, look Good. If u rely on ur brains alone, you'd sure get a lot of work to do (which in itself is not bad as u get to improve ur skills with each assignment) and Ms. Beauty gets d pay rise, invitation to dinners, breakfast meetings, networking sessions n lbs events! So like d writer urges, ladies use ur good looks n brains to get on in d workplace.

  18. I promise you, every negative comment here was made by an UGLY unsuccessful and bitter girl. If its from a guy, I assure you his babe is hurgly! Chika, this is a good article, no mind the bad belle

    1. @myfather, you are such a simpleton!

  19. Upon your supposed good looks, the sheer number of gbagauns in your response have not raised your esteem one bit in my mind. Accept that the piece was in poor taste and lets move on.

    1. Lol! Hassan, i could not agree more.

  20. I wonda wen nigerians will stop being sentimental on certain issues and face reality. While I do not agree wit d mini skirt wearing, cleavage showing stunt, I believe dat a girl needs a gud mix of beauty n brains 2 move ahead and stay on top of her game. Let's face it, how many of you wud like some rubber hair plaiting, full lenght skirted, dull looking lady for a sales rep? I wouldn't. So I'd say a wrong approach but a practical article nonetheless.

  21. I will only comment on this once because I refuse to go back and forth with people on this article.

    Looks is your own expression. It can be a person who is well groomed. It can be a person who takes time to put on make up daily. It can be someone who invest in their clothes. It can also be someone who is naturally born with it.

    Secondly I used Kim K to illustrated how looks has advanced someone in life. I clearly stated I do not agree with ALL of her tactics but nonethless kudos to her.

    I never promoted showing your cleavage or wearing tight skirts. I simply said it is the reality of today's workplace I am pretty sure all of you ave seen a woman that has done this. Wether you agree with how that woman has advanced in the workplace she has done it and it is the bitter reality.

    Here is a link to an infograph that clearly shows the value of good looks. This is even for me, people who are considered good looking will earn a high salary. Once again good looking is in the eye of the beholder. I can not pin down what good looking is because everyone has a different opinion. http://bit.ly/Hpn1QL

    I never used looks as a factor in hiring someone and I never will. People hire good looking people because they feel they are more competent. Once again this may not be right but it is the truth.

    My point is if you can look good and have the resume to back it up why would you not do it, especially if you know it can advance your career.

    Please read all the points I have made and do not use one line in the article to define who I am as a person and what I am saying in the article. You can look up my creditably on Linkedin no need to shout them here.

    1. Keep your chin up Chika. Not everyone disagrees with you…some of us get your point. Some people don't agree with you and have respectfully stated their case….just ignore the others that feel the need to attack your person. That's just the downside of such an open forum….

      Cheers

  22. Ok this is interesting. Can Chika please give me examples of insanely beautiful women at the top in most organisations? I guess that's why she could only use the vacuous but insanely beautiful kim kardashian as an example. She can go ask Angela Merkel, Oprah, the Queen and many other powerful but averagely looking women how they got to the top.
    Truth is most of the Kims of these world only deal with materialistic stuff and hardly ever make any real impact in society… and women that rely solely on their beauty don't get beyond marrying a rich husband and being trophy wife, which in my opinion limits their real potential. By all means use what you've got to get what you want but please be prepared for the consequences as beauty fades.

    PS: Bianca did not get those posts because of her beauty, it is because we have a clueless president that she was appointed. That is not to say that the beautiful Bianca has no brains as i believe Ojukwu would have schooled her appropriately.

  23. You have expressed my exact sentiments, OkShorty1. The article isn't finished. Some weak presentation of the points.

    I agree that looks and appearance plays a role in how we judge people [in our mind], but how can people with beauty use their beauty as a leverage? Who is not beautiful? Is it by nature or by nurture?

    Is there a manual you can present to those who intend to leverage their beauty? << Asking Chika.

  24. Hmmmn, guess you skipped out on reading all the blonde jokes when you were growing up.
    If women get so far ahead based on looks as you suggest, then how come there aren't that many women in top exec jobs?
    This article was poorly done and clearly, your perceived beauty has you delusional over many things.

  25. First, what the writer expressed was her opinion and she shouldn't be hanged for that. Second, I think she need not write a novel to emphasize the place of competence – atleast she touched that point no matter how brief.

    I see her argument as natural: if men are naturally wired to be more on the "thinking" side and women more on the "feeling" side, that then presupposes that their approaches to life will certainly differ. And so, in a competitive world, it would still be natural, if not strategic, for us to use whatever advantage at our disposal to make progress.

    If we agree that a woman is different from a man, why then do we expect her to acquit herself in any role without recourse to any form of strength or advantage available to her?

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  27. Well…NOI isn't beautiful as such. She isn't 27 years old and I cant imagine her in a low cut top and pencil skirt or whatever. But then does she need to be? does any woman at her age need to rely on her looks to get ahead in life?

    This is a very poor article. First of all, to suggest that Bianca Ojukwu got her political appointments based on her looks is in very poor taste.

    "Bianca Ojukwu who won Ms. Intercontinental went on to take on Minister of Diasporan Affairs and now is Country Ambassador for Ghana. It may not be clear if she is even qualified for those titles but nonetheless her looks has advanced her to take prominent roles in the government."
    This just goes to show how little research you did on this topic. The daughter of an ex state-governor, a qualified lawyer, philanthropist and wife to a man considered a hero by many, she won this said competition over 20 years ago. She also resigned from the position as her education was her priority at that time. (All this is right there on wikipedia). Does this sound like some vapid beauty queen who may not be qualified for the positions she's gotten?

    What about all the other women in positions of power, did they get there based on their looks? We all know it is a man's world, so for a woman to get to the top she probably had to work harder than a man who occupies that same position. To come here and rubbish the work they have done and attribute to their low skirt and nicely applied make up is just too poor.

    There are several points in your article i'd love to further critique, for example discounting someone's 10 year career, and attributing their new job to the fact that they lost weight and bought a new suit; but fortunately, i have a lot of stuff to do, commenting on blogs isnt one of them. To conclude, while everyone, man or woman should definitely put some work into thier appearance, strive to look good all the time, if you think that alone will get you anywhere farther than Oga's bedroom…then you have another thing coming.

  28. Good piece, bottom line if you've got the looks and you can dress well that is an addition to your brains..nothing wrong with what she has written, truth be told the brain might now be the only thing you can use to get ahead, being attractive should also count, even okonjo is stylish in her own way…

  29. Using KIM KARDASHIAN as an example is one of the off point of this Article .. That clouded the objectivity of the article. Truth is she does have great point and the cooperate world reality is what we have here in the article. Nevertheless, the use of the word "Elegance" more with reference to beauty might have given the article more credibility. Alot of young girls will read your article in the wrong way and think more beauty and less brain can get them what you insinuated all over the article because you only referred to the importance of brain over beauty once in the whole article "beauty can only take you so far and to become another Ngozi Okonjo Iweala you must possess the brain capacity".I know Chika to be a young lady advocating for the positives of the African woman,but I think there are better assertions she could have used in buttressing her point. All in all its a decent effort in letting young ladies know that they need to look good so as to convince a company they can rep them. God bless ya

  30. Obviously the lot who have negative sentiments on this topic are NOT GOOD looking.
    The upside to u jealous many: Make-up is the 9th wonder of the world, there is hope for u negative people (inside and out). If am man can compete as part of Miss universe cuz of make up…there's light @ d end of ur tunnel. Don't hate, appreciate.

    To d writer: thanks for ur take on this subject 😉

  31. @Chika, ur assertions are all over the place.I assume it's because u seem to be interchanging the ideas of beauty/makeup, good grooming/slutty dressing, Intelligence/Success. That KimK is 'successful' does not make her intelligent, that u do not apply make up everyday does not mean u are not beautiful/attractive, and that you do not dress with emphasis on 'cleavage & pencil skirt'does not mean u are not a 'power dresser'. At the end of the article, I cannot say what it is you are postulating exactly, except that we-like u intend to- should expose our boobs a lot more, wear tighter skirts and put on makeup more regularly regardless of how 'Intelligent' we may perceive ourselves to be, if we want to become d next KimK or NOI! 🙂

  32. This is complete BS! Gawd! And a HR consultant? I doubt it! Dear Chika, If I understand this article, it simply means you are no *brainer* (so it's just looks for u) u may prolly pass for an average ok girl that gets to the junior management of a mediocre organization just like Okshorty said! And that's it, u won't pass there and sustaining it? I bet I have to get some MJ's surgeon to help u out!

  33. This is one of those areas of life where people have an opinion in the open yet a totally different one in private because it is not polite/politically correct to have certain opinions in public.

    Research shows that good looking people earn more, get better jobs, etc in the corporate world. You don't have to like it, it is what it is. At the end of the day when you head to head with somebody in the brains department during an interview looks tend to be the differentiating factor.

    We need to look beyond the examples which may be poor but then again, I think the examples made it easy to understand the writers points.

    In Nigeria & in any business meeting, the good looking power dresser is listened, gets more out of a negotiation than the bland regular guy or girl. I think we know this yet will not admit to it in the open.

    A smart girl is the one who isn't shy to combine her beauty with her strong negotiation skills. I maybe wrong but I think this is the writer's message.

  34. I read the article and comments,and must confess I am not overly excited about it, maybe its because of the negative tweets I saw before reading. In any case its the world we live in,but I don't think I will like to use my looks (body) to get a position. I think u meant women are allowed to sleep around but curtailed it behind mini skirts and make up. What's the end result of what you itemized, a key to posh hotel room to sleep with an executive to get a contract or job and what have you. I will never play down my 5"10, 60kg, 36/28/36, flawless brown skin for anything and on the play field my education, natural,mental,physical,spiritual abilities are spot on. In any case the article is written In Your Opinion.

  35. This article is – Incoherent, Baseless and Invaluable. Your Article from a HR perspective is denigrating. What was the article trying to establish/support? Nothing.

    Women should look good, presentable, clean and professional that is all.

    Women – Competence has no competitor or substitute in the workplace.

    Is the writer accredited by any HR Body? Like CIPD or SHRM? If so they should rescind membership.

  36. Here's my take, when men subjectify women it s appaling, when a women does the dishonor, now that's downright evil. Will we now adjudge that a woman need not inculcate such values as determination, tenacity, humility, sound vision and all into herself, but go through life with the askew belief that the next installment of that Peruvian weave will land her that job?
    Are we not saying that appearance, important as it might be in image management, is now the magic solution to getting ahead in life and in the workplace?
    Looks will only get you there, staying there will take more than Mary Kay or the next designer label.

    1. Will we now adjudge that a woman need not inculcate such values as determination, tenacity, humility, sound vision and all into herself, but go through life with the askew belief that the next installment of that Peruvian weave will land her that job?
      Are we not saying that appearance, important as it might be in image management, is now the magic solution to getting ahead in life and in the workplace?

      No, she said no such thing. You should really go back to those critical reading text books you had in secondary school.

  37. Miss Anike, that’s the most shallow and immature way of expressing ur comment on this article…If u are intelligent enough you would know there are ways to expressing your opinion without putting someone down in such a way…what is “you are not pretty enough to get away with writing such” who cares??…that’s not the point here…I don’t fully agree with her and i still don’t see how such a comment u made a point…there is no point in bringing an average “she aint all that” womans state of mind to this…totally pointless…

  38. Na wah o. Orisirisi Feminism and Sexism all over my TL because of this article.

    Anyway, British Council is launching an extensive research and report on Gender In Nigeria on Thursday at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.

    I'll be there and I think you should too. Ok, Okonjo Iweala and Sanusi will be there too.

  39. This article is – Incoherent, Baseless and Clueless and Invaluable. Your Article from a HR perspective is denigrating. What was the article trying to establish/support? Nothing.

    Women should look good, presentable, clean and professional that is all.

    Women – Competence has no competitor or substitute in the workplace.

    Is the writer accredited by any HR Body? Like CIPD or SHRM? If so they should rescind membership.

  40. ehen…. Please, also help to clarify this part right here —–> RT @temite And did she really imply that NOI is not beautiful? was that the implication because I don't know if I am reading it right?

  41. "I have been blessed with both". TROLOLOLOL + There's a gbagaun in the opening sentence. Where does YNaija get these people from?

  42. So, dear writer, I need to understand something here. Are you talking about 'Looks' or 'Appearance/grooming/dressing nicely'? These are different issues to me. So you need to be a bit clearer here.

    Seeing that I have already been born, there's very little I can do to change the way I look (outside of plastic surgery, which is too extreme for me).

  43. Miss Anike, that's the most shallow and immature way of expressing ur comment on this article…If u are intelligent enough you would know there are ways to expressing your opinion without putting someone down in such a way…what is "you are not pretty enough to get away with writing such" who cares??…that's not the point here…I don't fully agree with her and i still don't see how such a comment u made a point…there is no point in bringing an average "she aint all that" womans state of mind to this…totally pointless…

  44. The above comment was cold and bi***y and shows how women have and will always continue to bring one another down.

    While I can see that the writer may have not been able to marshall her points well, I agree with her. Brains are good, but beauty and brains? That's a lethal and the perfect combination.

  45. Most "assumed-intelligent" ladies won't be confortable with your position in this article and most men would possiblity deny the atom of reality in the article. But ask that assumed-intelligent lady why her life is boring and you might see some underlining factor in her appearance. And for the men folks, a quarter of them admire the beauty of any woman at least to a moderate level. And most readers won't see the point of brain and beauty in your article. I'll say, Ladies, be beautiful inside out.

  46. Chika,

    You've made some interesting assertions about the role beauty plays in advancing a woman's career. While you've stated a fact as well as your opinion, there's still a lot unsaid about the ethical and moral perspective. So if I get you right, you intend to wear more low cut tops, minis and red lipstick to get ahead in your career? As a 12 year post graduation professional, I can tell you that this can only get you to junior management and only in mediocre organisations. Merit driven consultancies don't care how good you look. And Investment banks only care how much income you can bring in, not if you show cleavage like something is for sale. Using your looks can't elevate you into the upper echelons of management. You'll be found out soon enough and regarded as an Airhead.

    So for any young women out there reading this, please put your mini skirt back in the closet and whip out your textbooks.

  47. Dear Chika,

    Please give yourself brain. Not to say that there isn't some validity in some of the things you have said, there is, but to say that the ultimate weapon for a woman is her beauty is just such a 1950's notion. Its hard to believe you're a young professional in touch with today's society.
    Make no mistake, I believe the research that says good looking people (not just women) get ahead, especially in customer facing roles, but most of the time, these same good looking people have the basic qualifications needed. But the ultimate weapon for anyone is not anything fleeting such as beauty, please its 2012, let's all do better.

  48. This is a terrible article. And pls dear, you are "not pretty enough to get away with writing such"

  49. Alright,I read your article 3 times and I still don't understand what exactly you're on about. And your intro "their boss is attractive to them" also lost me.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail