Ladies, here’s a tip from British department store Debenham’s: Instead of wasting time trying to boost your resume with volunteer work and internships, what you really need to do is get thee to a nail salon. Because according to a survey of 2,000 people who had previously been in charge of hiring someone, it’s your “beauty blunders,” like split ends and botched tans, that are costing you work. And not, you know, the fact that women are unfairly expected to be bastians of perfect grooming.
The explanation of the survey (which begins with “They say,” and then doesn’t say who “they” are, so you know the science is empirically flawless) states that employers are quick to judge female candidates in job interviews, based on perceived beauty mistakes. Here’s part of it:
Split ends indicate laziness, while smudged mascara is the true sign of a party animal who would quite happily ditch the boardroom for the bar.
A slick of bright red lipstick, heavily pencilled brows and overpowering perfume reveal an overconfident personality. Fake tan implies the candidate loves a holiday and would swap reports for Ray-bans given half a chance.
Laziness! Party animal! HOLIDAYS! The nerve of these women who are trying their best to find employment in a terrible economic climate where they can all but guarantee they’ll get compensated less than male counterparts and also have fewer opportunities for growth! And heaven forbid a woman should want to move up in the ranks. Here’s another excerpt:
But it seems women cannot win – an immaculately made-up face tells the interviewer to watch out for their job, as this candidate means business and is probably going to be hot on their heels for the next promotion.
The nerve of them.
Of course, what the press release for this horrible, body-negative survey doesn’t clearly explain is whether or not these “blunders” would actually disqualify a candidate. They just spell it out that way so that you’ll go to their store and get the help your hot mess, hard-partying self so desperately needs. All the survey actually seems to have asked about is which beauty “mistakes” are “most hated” by people who have at some point, ever, been in charge of interviewing or hiring a candidate for a job.
So really, your split ends (which, apparently, an eagle-eyed interviewer can spy from across a room) are only slightly off-putting–they’re not actually costing you a job.
Yes, being put-together at a job interview is a professional thing to do, but this kind of rhetoric–the kind that clearly defines what women should and should not look like, lest they be cast aside as trollops and bar-hoppers–is damaging, both to men and women. It gives the impression that it’s OK for job interviewers to disqualify someone because of a chipped nail or a smudge of mascara, and that women should be very, very close to perfect–but not too perfect.
How about instead of condemning women for their spit ends and their overly-put-together appearance in the workplace, we just start focusing on what matters–experience and ability.
Image: CandyBox Images via Shutterstock