Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Cute Woman's Curse

As she strutted out of the courtroom, tasteful split in the back of a very fashionable satin skirt, pumps (but not fuckme pumps) , colorful blouse, I wondered how long before she, like me, experienced the weight of the curse. The cutesy girl curse--when a naturally friendly almost bubbly woman finds herself in a male dominated setting, in a male dominated career. Where every smile is considered calculating and every progressive fashion choice as seducing.

I never understood the challenges that I heard many professional women speak of. Honestly, I thought women were just “bandwagoning” it. Historically women have faced challenges in the professional arena and therefore I believed the conversation was passed on because while it wasn’t relevant it was traditional. I have not directly experienced the discriminatory aspects of working while woman but I have experienced the weight of working while cute. I’m not talking about cute physical features here. I’m talking about a cute disposition. A likeable disposition.

If a man has the natural gift of charisma, then he gets to use it in every aspect of his life. He never has to shield off that gift. Never does this man have to simmer that gift down. He’s currently not asked to and he never will be. At work there are no raised eyebrow if he uses it. People will just watch and smile in awe. Men will regard him as belonging to a prestigious Gwendolyn Brook’s we real cool club. Men will embrace him. Women will be smitten by him. He will use his personality, his gift, to advance his career and no will question it. He will attract both women and men alike. Take a woman on the other hand, now this same Denzel Washington charisma may land her jobless. Therefore, she better shut the giggles down.

I was recently told by a woman, cursed with bubbly as well, that I would need to redress myself, very straight laced, no make-up, not that I wear hardly any now. I would need to be a “plain Jane” she said. I would need to do this to play down my personality. We were having a conversation about my challenge in dealing with interviewing inmate clients, therefore I welcomed her advice. What she probably did not know is that her advice speaks to situations not only in dealing with imprisoned men but in professional environments as a whole. Its basically saying shame on me if I decide to wear a cutesy yellow dress, black blazer, basic black pump, and am smiling and saying “hello”. For I am cursed with cutesy, I should know better than to bring any more attention to myself.

If a cursed woman acts as she normally would, being friendly, maybe a little quirky, other women, not cursed ones, will think she’s fake. "She thinks shes cute" they might say saltily. And presumptuous men, well, they will think she’s trying to sleep her way to the top. Don’t misunderstand though, some are more than willing to capitalize on this supposed eagerness , quickly letting her know it too. There is a thin line in work situations between nice and seductive, every cursed woman should understand this. What we may not know is that the line is a lot thinner than we anticipate. The line-- is almost non-existent. Sex is oozing from every crevice of the universe but somehow a friendly woman, relatively attractive, has to tread lightly. If I attempt to network with a man then I must be leery because in every corner someone is watching for that smile of mine to be too broad, or that handshake to last too long.

I suspect Desiree Rogers, former White House Social Secretary, was cursed. A fellow blogger asked earlier last month if she was “Too Fabulous for Her Own Good?” The answer is yes. Solely from appearances and hearsay she was the quintessential cursed woman. And let’s now take note on where she sits, definitely not up there with President Obama. She was dethroned and although she ultimately resigned her hand was definitely forced. President Obama on the other hand, charismatic man that he is can give credit to his smile and swagger as being partly responsible for his presidency. As I suspect Desiree Rogers was a cursed woman I also anticipate men will label this kind of hysterical banter as paranoia. I am not paranoid. However, I am cursed. I have experienced the weight of cute firsthand. And until a man, which will never occur, experiences it there’s no way he can discredit what I am saying.


  1. Everyone will have an opinion on how you should dress/act/behave/live no matter what the circumstance. Always be true to yourself. -AG

  2. funny, before reading this i can honestly say the thought of there being "cursed women" never occurred to me...but it makes a lot of sense so thank you. my old boss (mind you she's a top dog in the music industry) was/is such a b----. i never understood why...not saying that there is an excuse for being one; but, perhaps it was her way of shielding her true inner "bubbly" self. (i highly doubt it lol but maybe...maybe not) but as the saying goes "people take kindness as weakness..." it's sad the double standard world that we live in (it's a man's world, james brown said that lol)...but as AG said above...no matter what you do, people will always have an opinion...so i too say, be true to yourself! - iyali

  3. I totally agree with you. It is sad because it's the women who do use their looks and "cuteness" for advancement who spoil it for the women who actually can care less that work hard. I believe we live in a double standard society that will never change. My advice to the women who have this curse is to always work hard and do your best and absolutely NEVER compromise your "Character" or "Cuteness" for anyone or anything (money).

  4. Great post! And I agree with you. Because some women have used their sex appeal as a weapon in the work arena, it does create a stereotype for cute, friendly women. Hummm...so the question I have is...how do you stay true to yourself while still respecting and abiding by the unwritten rules created for women in the work place? But to a certain extent...aren't we all a little different at work than we are outside of work? Aren't we all a little more "hard-nosed" at work as compared to our everyday disposition? And if so, do we act this way because we know that those stereotypes exist, and we are trying really hard to make sure people don't stereotype us?

  5. Really, remain true to yourself. Everything is always changing around us, we have to be humble. Great blog. :)


  6. I completely agree about the curse but I refuse to let it define me! I truly believe that there is a time and a place for everything. If you have the brains to do the work and you were given the position because of your resume and not the cut of your skirt or the ruffles in your blouse then keep it moving. Sometimes unfortunately to get the role, you have to play the part until you are in a position of power to truly express and be who you are even in a professional setting.

  7. Amazing post. I loved reading every word! You have a gorgeous blog and fab writing.

  8. It is the other way around for me. I am a man that works with all women. It is also an uncomfortable existence.