I’m Too Sexy… for My Job

February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last summer, Debrahlee Lorenzana captured media attention by suing Citibank for wrongful termination. Their reason for firing her? Being too sexy for the bank. Last fall, Amy-Erin Blakely filed suits against Devereux Foundation for gender discrimination on the basis of their claim that she had “distracting” breasts.

It’s hard to read and write about this case when I, myself, have mixed feelings about this topic. Do I start by asking whether women are becoming too sexy for the office (but what exactly does that mean and who determines it?) or do I question the current status of female in the professional world? As I stated last week, women should be able to be beautiful and successful. The same statement demands that the world not judge a woman’s professional ability by her appearance.

Reading through the two cases, it seems both women were harassed and judged for their physical attributes without any mention of their professional abilities. The focus was on the clothes instead of the discrimination. What’s more, most of the comments posted under these news stories either called the women “attention driven” or questioned the legitimacy of their stories and experiences.

Without looking at the images and judging the two women on their clothes and physical appearance, shouldn’t we be able to unequivocally state that yes, it is wrong for the companies to fire or to harass the two women based on their gender attributes and expressions?

When did gender discrimination become muddled with gray areas where we can pass judgment if it doesn’t qualify under arbitrary tests we’ve set for ourselves?

The point isn’t for people to prescribe a list of acceptable professional wear for women; it should be a wake up call to end gender discrimination without questioning motives and intentions.

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