Life Lesson and Disappointing Truth

I am a scruffy person.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully embrace personal hygiene – I shower daily, brush my hair and teeth every day and am a firm believer in antiperspirant. But other than that, I don’t really give a shit – I wear jeans, complete with scruffy and torn cuffs, hoodies, tshirts and trainers everywhere I go.

I grew up on a farm where you didn’t wear nice clothes unless you were prepared to have them jumped on by muddy dogs or otherwise torn/stained. I also read a lot of idealistic literature about a world where you’re judged on your intelligence and your ability to do your job right.

What I learnt the other day is that it doesn’t matter how competent or intelligent you are, you’re only judged on your appearance. I had to attend a meeting at short notice in the absence of my manager, something which I’ve never been expected to do before so I was not prepared in the wardrobe department (I was pretty informally dressed, even by my standards). I don’t work in a customer facing role and there is no dress code, so it’s never been an issue before.

I shook hands with the lady I was meeting with and she looked me up and down in undisguised contempt. I introduced myself and held my own in the meeting, the very models of etiquette and professionalism… but not only would she refuse to take me seriously, she was openly hostile and rude to me. She would defer all questions and information to the bloke in the meeting with me, because his jeans were smarter than mine.

I don’t know if men encounter this same issue, if they’re not wearing a power suit to meetings, or if a man would have been so contemptuous of me in the same situation but I found this a real eye-opener. I always knew on one level that appearance is important, but I didn’t realise that you could be disregarded so completely despite being completely competent at your job. It makes me wonder if you can get away with being awful at your job, as long as you dress well and look good?

I feel silly for being so naive but also deeply disillusioned that it doesn’t matter how good I am at what I do, I’ll always be judged on how I look.

Has anyone else encountered this? Are business women more predatory about appearance?

15 comments on “Life Lesson and Disappointing Truth

  1. Not a business woman lol, but I’ve definitely noticed this to be very true. Sorry you got caught off guard and treated this way.


    • That’s what I don’t get…. I’m a woman, I can do business- I just resent that I have to dress a certain way to be taken seriously.

      Social convention was clearly not invented by people in comfortable footwear

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, definitely not. And I do think you probably are worse off for it for being a woman sadly. Women are held to a much higher standard when it comes to these things.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t get me started on the makeup side of things….
        Sadly, I think I’ll have to grow up and just give in to these standards if I want to accomplish anything professionally

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, to some extent we need to give way to society’s rules and ways but we can also help change it by breaking stereotypes and living how we want to while being role models and proving our worth. We can have our successes in spite of these things. I’ve had some disadvantages and things going against me in life, but I try to make them seem normal and irrelevant as I do my best and now live a pretty good life. But it’s a balancing act we all deal with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re definitely a lot more gracious about it than me! I’ll just have to become incredibly successful then turn up to an awards ceremony in slippers.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have encountered the same kind of treatment while being professionally dressed. People assume you can’t possibly know what you are talking about because you are a woman. The scales are tipped even further against you if you are young and attractive. Unfortunately, many people do judge a book by its cover and you must know more than the guy standing next to you to even have a hope of getting the same amount of respect he is given. I just work hard and let my products speak for themselves. Eventually people learn you will not allow them to walk all over you and start to take you seriously. As long as you remain confident in yourself no one can stop you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I will condede defeat in the wardrobe department though no power on this earth will have me in heels and a skirt.

      Other than that, I don’t plan on backing down an inch on any of my other values! I work hard to be the best at what I do, I’m just mortified another woman treated me that way!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Honestly, the woman’s initial reaction isn’t too surprising. I think it’s part of human nature to make quick judgements based on limited information. What I find surprising is that she continued to act on her first assessment, despite you demonstrating your professionalism and competence. That illustrates a lack of social intelligence on her part. If it’s any consolation, I really do think that most people can see past the superficial.


    • I hope so, I was shocked when she started ignoring me when I spoke – it says more about her than it does about me, but I’m sure other people make the same subconscious decision that underdressed people are less competent even if they don’t react as strongly

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been caught at my work with my shoes off, but I wasn’t looked at with disdain like you were with that woman. Anyways, it’s kind of jerky that people judge on appearance.

    Liked by 1 person

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