Barbara Corcoran, an entrepreneur and investor on Shark Tank, said in April’s issue of Real Simple that she won’t hire a woman who wears “too much make up or jewelry” or someone who wears, what she deems, “impractical shoes.”
Intelligence, apparently, plays no part in Corcoran’s hiring process. It’s about appearance. If you don’t look like a plain jane, she won’t hire you.
Here is the full quote:
“The people I don’t hire are often wrongly dressed for the interview. Usually they’re overdressed: too much makeup and jewelry or impractical shoes. It drives me crazy when a woman walks in with peekaboo toes and super high heels. I know they’re very fashionable, but you should look like you can work a long day and you’ll be OK. You can also dress down too much. Recently I looked for a babysitter for my daughter and was surprised by how many women came in for an interview in stretchy pants, oversize tops and sneakers. Not that they should have worn a business suit, either. You should look one step above what is expected to be worn on the job, not a whole ladder.”
Perhaps Corcoran should release a white paper download, complete with illustrations, of her definition of appropriate work wear, because it’s obviously more important to her than your qualifications or actual ability to do a job. For instance, who knew makeup interfered with your ability to do your work? I had no idea! I’d love to see the stats on this.
Stylish Does Not Equal Stupid.
There’s a pervasive, and very incorrect, viewpoint that stylish women are stupid women. Funnily enough, it’s the reverse for a man.
For all of those who hold that view, including Corcoran, I have something very important to tell you:
Stilettos have zero impact on a woman’s ability to do her job.
I love makeup. I’m a big believer in the smokey eye. I love edgy clothes. I have red hair (which I’m sure is a no-no for Corcoran because, just like jewelry, my red hair might distract me from doing my job).
I also have a high IQ. I have a great education. I also continue to educate myself by reading anything and everything I can get my hands on.
If you’re going to assume that my intelligence or my ability to work hard is negated by my short black pencil skirt, then you are the one who is incapable of hard work. You are incapable of the hard work of seeing past appearances or the hard work of accepting that your box of normalcy is not all that matters.
Who am I kidding? That’s not even hard work. Looking past appearances and accepting that other people choose to express themselves in their clothing isn’t hard work. It’s simple work. It’s humanity at work.
Let People Be Their Best Selves.
For as long as I can remember people would ask me “why are you so dressed up?” I never felt dressed up. I just felt like me. As a child, I was a budding archaeologist and would attempt to dig for artifacts in my backyard while wearing a frilly dress.
My expression of my best self doesn’t come in sweatpants. It also doesn’t come in generic slacks. It comes in cigarette pants, stilettos and red lipstick.
There are a few reasons for this: I’m creative. I express that creativity through my clothing. It’s also because I’m always sick. I wake up every morning in extreme neuropathic pain – which, obviously, is rather exhausting. Dressing “up” is like armor against my illness. It’s my way of tricking my brain that this body isn’t sick. This body is savvy and put together. This body can do anything.
Also, I have short hamstrings and really high arches, so I’m far more comfortable and in less pain when I wear heels than when I wear flats. Like a lot of people with mitochondrial disorders, I frequently walk on my toes.
I’ve walked my dog 5 miles through Brooklyn in stilettos. Never had a problem.
If you judge and don’t hire people because you deem their clothing to be “impractical” you are saying that you don’t care about who they are as people or what they can offer your company or you.
What you are saying is that your preconceived notions matter more than reality. You are also saying that you want people to live down to your standards, not live up to their best selves.
That’s an extremely sad and damaging view of the world. It’s also extraordinarily insulting to the millions of intelligent, capable women who wear makeup, jewelry and stilettos.