Breaking Stereotypes , Challenging Camouflage
Posted by Katie Nathan
There is no denial that women are judged by their appearance and branding happens without least regard to the person or her capabilities. Statements such as “Love at first sight”, “first impression is the best impression” should have the roots on this insensible approach. I am not making this statement without proper foundation; check out this research by Nielsen India for #IamCapable survey for Nihar naturals.
- 69% of men agree that their judgement of women is based on their looks.
- 64% of women agree that the judgments passed on them have affected their ability to reach their true potential.
- 70%of women agree that majority of judgments on women are from family members or friends rather than strangers.
- 72% of women agree that working women face more judgments on their looks or their clothes than housewives.
This subject has been in my thoughts for a long time and thanks to BlogAdda for raising this subject as a topic to blog. My experiences have been far more painful and had brought in a vehement approach in making sure that come what may, I will not change myself to prove what I am. The experience which contributed to this experience came from a jewelry shop. We walked into buy wedding jewelry into the shop and yes, we were not dressed up for the occasion. We were unaddressed and we waited and waited for almost an hour after our repeated approach to convey what we have come for. We tried speaking to the manager but he kept showing us he was busy. People kept coming in and assessed by their looks, kept moving in and were even offered coffee and juices. Frustrated, we demanded the manager’s attention in a loud voice and explained our purpose of coming there. He became apologetic and kept insisting that their service is topnotch and this is one off situation though it did not seem so having watched their attitude for hours, thanks to the waiting time we had in their premises. We walked out into another showroom where thankfully our appearance did not matter and did our purchase there.
Choice of dressing should be by choice not by force. I worked in a leading multinational bank in 90s where western clothes attire was order of the day. A group of us made sure that we had our way of dressing and convinced the management that the business being in India, western attire is pseudo culture here and made us feel out of place. But today, if we walk into any high-end restaurant we can hardly find anyone in our traditional attire. I would be happy if it is something people wanted to wear and not by social obligations. The irony of it came into the fore when few friends of mine refused to accompany me to a 5-star restaurant for a celebration saying that they are just not comfortable to go there where only high flying people dine. Much of arguments and convincing followed and I kept reiterating the fact that it is also one other restaurant where we pay to eat. It reached nowhere and finally I had to readjust my plan to a place where they were comfortable and offered normal dining but the bill turned out to be nothing less.
Where did this mindset come in? It should have been deeply imbibed in them subtly and in stark form in the workplace, home and places of visit. Bias starts in the family where a well earning good looking daughter-in-law is given better treatment and at work, where looks play a vital role in landing plum jobs. The solution is not in changing our appearance but in driving home the fact that capabilities matter and looks are just prerequisite as qualification for jobs where it matters. What if we try to be one in today’s world?
To check this out, in one of my eating out experience, I decided to visit the 5-star restaurant of Park Hyatt, Chennai in saree as I would to any place with absolutely no fanfare. At the door, we were addressed with respect and the team spoke to me in Tamil as they guided me to the restaurant. It was so beautiful hearing Tamil and it should not be surprising for us being in Chennai and Tamilnadu but unfortunately it did ring sweet notes in our ears. Nowhere did I feel any isolation or disregard and brought in the fact that it is attitude that matters. If you want things to change, you be the change. Yes, we want to be respected for what we are and not for being someone else. Remember that ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’.