A woman’s physical appearance at the office matters. Whether it should or not is an entirely different matter. For right now, most working ladies accept the fact that they need to dress for success, even when it has nothing to do with our job performance.
Plenty of studies have come out showing that women who wear make-up are seen as more competent or that good-looking people earn more money. Beauty is rewarded, right? These studies paint a picture of supermodels getting corner offices, while their more plain female co-workers get looked over. Maybe in some offices that’s true, but the majority of businesses need each employee to actually complete a job as well. So no matter how straight and white your teeth are, you have to be competent. In fact, a lot of the “pretty effect” takes place before you even get the job. Attractive applicants have an easier time getting a job, because they normally are able to charm the interviewer. I’m not sure if there’s much that we can do about that.
But on a normal, day-to-day basis for average working women across America, how does your appearance help or hinder you at the office? In a work environment where good-looking co-workers are even marginally favored over the rest of the company, what’s a normal girl to do?[tagbox tag="attire"]
Well, we shouldn’t give up and start wearing Crocs to work, for one. Because I’m under the firm impression that it’s actually more about effort than beauty when it comes to office appearance. Take the make-up study for example. It wasn’t the person’s physical attributes that determined how competent she was perceived. It’s the fact that she took time to make herself look more presentable. It’s the effort behind the make-up, not the actual color of your eye shadow. Though Mimi-Blue is still frowned upon.
In your business attire, the goal is to look put-together and competent, not appealing to the opposite sex. Personally, I tend to wear some sort of heel because I like the stature and posture they promote, not because I’m trying to elongate my legs. My legs are normally covered by a pair of pants. (I also wear heels because I don’t live in a city that requires a ton of walking, but that’s for a different day.) Professional clothes aren’t normally the most sultry thing a woman could slip on and they aren’t supposed to be. The point is to look professional, not attractive.
While studies have obviously proven that a pretty face can give you a leg up in the workplace, I don’t think it all has to do with your genetics. Putting an effort into making your appearance appropriate and presentable shows that you want to be taken seriously in your office and that you care about how others perceive. Maybe when it comes to good looks and the workplace, grade “E” for effort isn’t really a bad thing.