BY GABRIELLE BOYER, Staff Columnist
It’s hard being pretty. No one understands when the old and frumpy female professor fails me because she is jealous of my beauty. No one feels sorry for you when you lose your girlfriends because they’re afraid that you are going to steal their boyfriends. And no one knows your pain when men just give you things because you’re so cute.
Now, I am no Beyonce, but I am what many people would consider a “pretty woman.” I am tall and thin, with what many people call a stunning face. I am often mistaken for a model, to which I have to embarrassingly explain that I am not. I know I am blessed, but there are downsides to being this good-looking.
The first downside is that I become a vapid, self-absorbed idiot.
If you couldn’t tell, I was poking fun at journalist Samantha Brick, who last week posted an article in the Daily Mail about the dangers of being pretty. Unlike this article, it wasn’t a joke.
I am not mad at Ms. Brick for being pretty, because frankly if you got it, flaunt it. I’m mad because she is perpetuating stereotypes about women that are simply not true. Stereotypes such as women who work together can’t get along if one is prettier than another and men think about women with the head inside their pants.
I’m going to talk about the women working together thing because that one offends me the most. I’ve been surrounded by women my entire life, and worked with them in my entire academic and professional career. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone openly hate someone or refuse to work with them because they’re too pretty. Insecure people may get a little snarky, but to openly refuse someone something because they’re attractive? That’s so “Mean Girls.”
In fact I’ve seen more trouble with pretty girls getting mad when attention is diverted from them to “that fat girl” or “the ugly one” (yes, that is the terminology). To me, it’s a defense mechanism that “pretty girls” have to learn because they aren’t validated in much else. It’s easy to tell a girl that she’s pretty, but you have to get to know her before you tell her she’s smart. Usually one has to be in proportion to another. For some reason in our society, we can’t be both.
There seems to be two prevailing archetypes in women who are climbing up the professional ladders, the women who use sexuality and women who use skill. Seduction is a powerful tool in any business. Yes, it will get you good places, but people will hate you for it. It’s also kind of the easy way out. Working hours and crunching numbers is harder than flirting with your boss. And if you are a cruncher, and see a girl get promoted who’s a flirter, then yes, you are going to be pissed. It’s not because she’s pretty, it’s because she had an in.
Another thing that bothered me was the way she talked about men in her article. Men just shower her in gifts because she’s pretty and has a cute bubbly personality. In some cases, it’s probably true. In others, it’s not. In my very limited experience with men on a romantic level, usually if you flirt and play dumb, they’ll do little things for you, like homework, or get you coffee. But when you are a professional, this sends the wrong message. If you’re flirty with co-workers or your boss, you aren’t getting the scorn of other women because you are pretty; you’re getting scorned because it is highly inappropriate. And if you’re the man who promoted the “hottie” you better be damn sure she can live up to the job because you promoted her. I bet (and hope) the higher you get in a corporation, the less this happens.
So why do women like this bother me? Why don’t I just let it go? Because it sets us back as a gender. I could actually understand if this was about people being jealous of Samantha Brick’s accomplishments, which she has had. I applaud her for being good at her job. But to turn around and blame people for not liking her because of good looks, and then call the people who didn’t like her “heavy” and “old” makes her seem like a shallow, almost delusional person. The bottom line is that if you don’t want scorn from other women, don’t use your “good looks” as stepping stone in business. You’re setting yourself up for a nasty fall.