I need to stop starting these posts with ‘So..’
Well this is an especially tricky topic that I’m about to address. In fact, I’m just going to go ahead and start by saying I have started and stopped several blogs in the past mainly because of the fear of my private life being threatened. But then I remember I’m not that popular, and after all, who reads these anyways?!
In all seriousness, I feel that talking about topics of personal issue on the internet is always tricky. Putting an opinion or an honest post up can be met with so much critique that its not worth the time nor effort, but I digress. This has to be said. Perhaps for my own sanity. It has taken me over 3 months to come to terms with it enough to write this down.
This past year has been the hardest of my life, for personal reasons. This has led me to what I want to talk today, judgements in the workplace on appearance.
Over a year ago, I started a course at University, (a course I worked damn hard to get on to I might add). I was fresh faced and keen, and although my first few weeks were met with a personal tragedy, I persevered, attended my course in a formal setting only to be met with distaste for my appearance.
Now I guess I should give you some background here. I am a 28 year old woman. I suffered bullying for my appearance for some of my high school life. Through this, I became self aware, I created my own image of myself, dressed this way for years since school and became strong and confident in the way I look. I was happy.
I tried my best at every aspect of the course. I was confident in myself and my abilities at the start, and although I was going through some things, I kept it together. I got good results in my tests.
My (lets call her) ‘Line Manager’ on placement called me into her office to speak to me. She attacked my hair, commenting that my hair extensions were in poor condition and that I looked “ridiculous”, that if I were to wear extensions, I needed to keep with the upkeep of my extensions. She also remarked ‘You have blue hair. I’ve had to modify the dress code policy to eliminate extreme hair styles like yours.’ My hair at this time was a grey tone, and when I went to my University, they were extremely supportive and agreed my hair was not blue, and in no breach of any policy. They also commented that under no circumstances should the condition of my hair come into play when on placements, and that my hair was not in any bad condition anyways. Regardless, the ‘line manager’s’ last words to me that day were ‘come back more professional or don’t come back.’
My hair looked like this:
I left that office crying. She had completely attacked my appearance and with that, completely affected my personality. I had a few weeks of worrying between placement breaks of how I could possibly resolve this. I loved my hair, it gave me so much confidence. So I took my extensions out and returned on placement unhappy. The change in appearance completely effecting my functionality.
This might seem like nothing to some or even most of you, but I want to raise awareness that this discrimination in the workplace to appearance is still prevalent.
What that woman said to me that day has become so engrained in my memory, its taken me months to get over, and I have even changed my career path due to my treatment in that particular placement. It is disgusting that this still happens.
There’s no need to comment on another’s appearance in this day and age. Respect each other.