When I was in college and starting my job search, I did like a bunch of normal college students and participated in a job fair. This is actually I how I was able to get internships. Well, my college department offered additional things for us in the engineering department - including an engineering job fair and mock interviews. It was during the engineering job fair when things got a little bit crazy.
An organization at the engineering job fair was trying to find minorities and of course, I gave it a try. I talked to the recruiter and he told me about the organization he was representing. I was highly intrigued, but then the conversation came to an end, but not before a dangerous twist. The recruiter told me that I needed to changed my look.
Now, I admit, I probably had red hair extensions at the time. Once I figured out red looked good in my hair, I kept with it. But it wasn't my hair he was talking about. I distinctly remember him telling me I needed to lose weight in order to find a decent job. Then he went into this story about how he lost over a hundred pounds in order to be able to find a job. Me being me, I just nodded and agreed, but I walked away thinking you're crazy dude. I thought he was more crazy when I had an interview with his organization and they offered me a position I ended up declining. Not that I didn't want to move to the west coast, but the position wasn't permanent and I needed a permanent job to make a decent living.
Considering the time I graduated from college, I was highly blessed to not be working in my field of study for less than a year. In fact, it only took me nine months after graduation to find a job. I had five interviews in two weeks and one of them worked out for me. Although I had lost weight from college, I was still considered a plus size woman. I'm smaller now than I was when I first was hired and guess what? I'm still considered a plus size woman. And guess what? I'm still working with the organization that hired me five years ago.
Yes, I'm excelling in my job and I make sure to do my work, but there is also another piece to the puzzle - I always make sure I look decent while at work (even on the days I have to work outside).
In a 2014 study, it was shown that obese women made less money than our smaller counterparts. In the same study, it was proven this was not the same fact for men. For overweight females, we (yes, I'm including myself), do not tend to have visible jobs. We tend to get forced in a kitchen as cooks, washing dishes, or anything else not considered glamorous. Think about it - when is the last time you saw an obese greeter at a restaurant to get you to your table or even a plus-size waitress? Have you ever seen an obese flight attendant? Doubt it. What about someone working at Disney as a princess or even walking in the parade? Nope!
What happened to hiring people because of their brain power or because of how loyal they have been to you and your company? The glass ceiling keeps getting harder and harder to break. However, most hiring managers are male and it is no big secret that males are visual creatures. But don't get this twisted - I'm not bashing males for being themselves or skinny women for being skinny. What am I doing? I'm being upset that some plus-size women think they are not meant to dress nicely or meant to be sexy, just because of a few extra pounds.
Ladies, particularly my fellow plus-size ladies, you have a right to be dressed nice and feel beautiful. Designers are starting to take note that our bodies are worthy of the few extra yards of cloth needed to make our garments. I mean, look at Ashley Nell Tipton - plus diva and winner of Project Runway. Her line is out in a few stores and taking the market by storm! Wonderful, right? And what about Gabi Gregg? Personally, I think she has one of the most awesome swimwear lines on the market for us plus divas and she always looks like she is on fire! I could go on, but how about adding your name to this list? No, you don't have to be famous, but you can look and be fabulous!
With the change of season coming, I ask you to step out of your box and give a new look a try! There are so many designers and they are learning how to dress our bigger bodies appropriately. You might just be surprised at what you find and you will probably find something else you like. And once you try those clothes and buy them, do me a huge favor and actually wear them! Don't just keep them in your closet to hide, show them off and show yourself off!
Ladies, no matter what size you are, remember this one thing - you are beautiful! Now, I know you are probably wondering why are you not posting any photos of yourself in this post? Easy questions get easy answers - I want you to post photos of yourself of when you are beautiful. Just fyi, you are beautiful all the time, so post away! Nah, I don't have to see them (unless you want me to), but go feel and be beautiful!
Here is what I need for you to do - dress for success. I know it doesn't seem fair, but you have to dress appropriately. Now when I think back on it, I have never gone to an interview without at least wearing eye shadow. I know for certain I didn't always have on a full face (because I hardly wear it now), but I know I have always made myself look a little bit more presentable. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm ugly, but I also know that men (which has been part of my interviews but one), are visual creatures...which I have stated earlier in this post. Now, please don't show up to your interview looking extra, but do show up looking decent and looking like you want the position for which you have applied. Don't give your skinny counterpart (that may potentially have less experience) the opportunity to get your position because they knew how to dress and you did not.
So, here are a few tips I can give to you (just from my own experience) about the office:
1 - Be confident in your work and in your looks. There is nothing more wonderful than a confident woman knowing she looks fabulous and having the brains to back it up.
2 - Always dress for success, even after you have the job! There are some days I wear jeans to my office, but I still look presentable. In fact, some people even ask me who are you liking nice for today? No reason other than me wanting to look awesome.
3 - If you think you look good in it, don't let people tell you that you do not. Honestly, some people are jealous and the only way they know how to say it is to be mean and tell you that you don't look good in it.
4 - Make sure to do mirror checks before you leave the house in the morning and do a final makeup check before you get out of the car. I know we only make one first impression, but if you think about it, we make a first impression each morning we step into our place of business.
5 - Be yourself. Not everyone has a mainstream look and if your look falls out of mainstream, don't worry about it. Look like yourself and be comfortable with your look.
Well, that's all I have for you! I hope you find this post helpful and a little bit inspiring. Plus diva, thick chick, curvy lady, or whatever name you wish to call yourself, you have the right to be and look fabulous. Never let anyone tell you otherwise!
Photo credit: celinecelines via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA