A frequent topic of discussion here on Curvy CEO is size discrimination – particularly as it relates to employment. Recently, I engaged in a great offline conversation with one of my blogging idols, Sheila Arkee of Painted-Ladies.com. When she shared her experience of discrimination in the beauty industry with me, I asked her if she would be willing to write a guest post. She was and she did. Check it out below!
It was a picture perfect interview for a job that would have made my life as a single mother infinitely easier. Having been underemployed and then unemployed for a while, I was excited about an opportunity to work in retail for a luxury fragrance brand that had come via a recommendation. Although I had been working in an office environment for the past few years, I also have experience working in a luxury retail environment and was ready and willing to sell perfume and make a good commission. For a woman who is raising a child alone, a job in retail would have been more accommodating to my child care arrangements with family members than a typical office job.
Somewhat nervous about the interview, I made sure that my personal presentation was on point. My outfit choices had been approved by my technically-former-but-in-reality-forever mother-in-law who has been working in the clothing industry for nearly 30 years. The woman knows her stuff, and I walked confidently into the meeting with the sales manager.
To say the interview went smoothly is the understatement of the year. The manager and I had excellent rapport and I couldn’t imagine that I wouldn’t be presented with a job offer. The interview ended with a trip to the sales floor to meet the other member of the team, topped with glowing compliments from the sales manager and a promise that I would be called in at least three days.
After day 4 passed with no word, I ventured to contact my interviewer only to be met with a negative reaction and harsh comments. “Let’s face it, you were not wearing your best attire and were not presented well.” He then continued to prattle on negatively about my appearance for the next several minutes. These were completely shocking statements from a man who had complimented me up and down over my accomplishments in front of his star salesperson. I ended the conversation, knowing that entertaining a second more of this would be pointless. If you’re going to walk away, walk away with your head held high!
Although I firmly believe that when one door closes another one opens (and it did), I was really disappointed by losing out on this job. Thinking back on my experience in retail, I remembered a statement from a friend who had worked with me in the past and also in the same store as the failed interview – “They just don’t like big girls.”
I remembered a statement from a friend who had worked with me in the past and also in the same store as the failed interview – “They just don’t like big girls.”
Ah, yes. Beautiful people only for jobs in the beauty retail industry. How could I have forgotten? In my experience, I can firmly say that size discrimination exists and rampantly so, especially if you’re in a position to be presented to the public on a regular basis. My size has fluctuated through the years. I was a size 22 when I started working for a brand that embraced diversity in a luxury retail store. Went down to an 8, then to pregnancy, and for the past several years my weight has settled at a determined 18. Is this a size I want to be at forever? Truthfully, no, but I am content to be here.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown into acceptance of who I am and what I look like. Yes, I still take side glances at the gym – Has my belly finally started to shrink after months of dedicated workouts? Is it the proverbial mid-30′s metabolism slowdown, or is it the fact that I can’t keep myself away from carbs and have no willpower or desire to do so in the near future?
But what does that matter when I am healthy and my body is functional? I can write a successful blog and indulge in my lifelong passion for the beauty industry. I can run after my Autistic son. I can carry him when he has a meltdown or just needs some extra love. I can move. I am a size 18, I exist, and I am functional.
It’s not surprising but still sad that the “beauty” industry can be so “ugly.” It actually brings to mind times that I’ve gone up to a makeup counter or wandered into a prestige cosmetics store and felt the subtle judgment from the sales staff. It’s like, “Yes, big girls like to wear makeup and feel pretty, too!” *sigh* So, what about you, dear readers? Have you ever had this sort of experience – in an employment situation or otherwise?