What happens when what you look like is not okay at work? Your look is comprised of multiple layers: your hair, your makeup, your teeth, your clothes, and your weight. For many people, this very topic annoys them, and this entire article will be blown off as it is read amid much teeth-sucking and eye-rolling. Nevertheless, the reality is unchanged.
Consider this: the same people who reject the idea of changing their appearance for work will present themselves in whatever manner it takes to attract a man, even if it means wearing a long weave, tight clothes, and so much makeup that we think you’re in a drag show! Why not do it for work? What’s the big deal? Are you not the same person with all the fixings that you are without the fixings? YES YOU ARE, AND YOU STILL DO IT! But you expect your job to tolerate you “as you are”? Work isn’t church (and I think churches ought to subtly pressure some of y’all to step it up; however, that’s another post)! Why do you demand the right to be yourself at work, but nowhere else?
What right do you have to demand that a job accept you looking like what you want to look like instead of looking like what is consistent with the kind of business it is?
An organization has to think about the kind of image it projects because that affects the money it makes! Plain and simple, companies that are trying to attract a certain kind of customer do the same thing you do when you go out hoping to come back with numbers: they try to make everything about them appealing to the kind of guy they like! After a while, the customers, the guys, know what they can expect from that company because the company puts forth that image ALL the time. They keep going back for what they want. It is the same way with you! The store that you hate going to because the cashier keeps following you around only stays in business because it probably has something that really cheap or hard to find in your neighborhood. What happens when you don’t need cheap anymore? You will find somewhere else to buy what you want because you don’t like the store, its employees, and how they represent themselves! Your job is no different. When you don’t fit the image that the company wants to present, it has to ask whether buyers don’t come into the store because of you!
If you were in school and didn’t want to hang out with the nerds, you’d simply choose another group that wouldn’t pressure you that way. Why not take the same approach with a job? Pay attention to what’s acceptable and apply to the job where you can be you!
How far are you willing to go to fit in at a job? Personally, I go after organizations where I can “do me”. But the honest truth of the matter is that my choices are limited. What I mean is that there are some jobs that I won’t even apply for with certain companies because I know my style of dress, how I present myself, would have to change. Also, in my work as a makeup artist, I can’t even begin to tell you how I might look one way to hang with my friends and I’m totally different when I show up for a wedding! BTW, I’ve even taught the girl at the bank how to cover the tattoos on her arms and hands because it was such a distraction at her job. She said she noticed that the customers treated her better when she covered them! They took her more seriously and treated her life they really trusted her to help them with their money. I’m pretty sure her experience would be different if she worked at club; BUT right now, she’s 22 and works at the bank.
So, what are you gonna do?