“Looks the part”: the kiss of (career) death?

I read the news with two sets of eyes. First, the obvious search for what’s up. The other, assessing what current events mean for women. This past week, I read a phrase that hurled me back decades in my own career–“Looks the part”– a set of words that may seem like a compliment…or be used as a reason to hold women back. But when the language is associated with decisions regarding the highest offices in our land, I just had to write.

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/the-ugly-truth-about-trump-s-fixation-with-looks-1.2886560

The ugly truth about Trump’s fixation with looks

US president-elect’s cabinet choices appear to be more about style than substance

 Another week begins with the US president-elect hosting his ultimate episode of Celebrity Apprentice: D.C. – otherwise known as the selection of his cabinet.

Each day, a parade of contenders arrives on the set of his shiny Trump Tower where an attractive hostess greets them at the revolving door, before rising to the upper floors for the casting session.

Trump’s choices to date suggest a preference for billionaires and military leaders aligned with his wallet and world view.

But now that secretary of state spot is up for grabs, the criterion is even more refined.

Asked why former governor Mitt Romney was up for secretary of state, a top aide quotes Trump as saying Romney “looks the part”.

Looks the part?

True, Romney’s chiseled jaw, perfect posture and tailored suits telegraph suave confidence but is that why Trump might choose him to represent the US around the globe?

Unlike Trump’s unconventional resume, Romney governed Massachusetts, was a powerful businessman who led Bain Capital, and managed the successful Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Trigger-happy Twitter finger

On a personal note, he seems more even-tempered than his new commander-in-chief with the trigger-happy Twitter finger.

But hey, Mitt’s got that handsome, ageing model thing going – so, he’s a shoo-in.

In fact, he’s made the callback list with a dinner appointment Tuesday night. Are table manners under review?

“Looks the part” (or worse, not looking the part) is language women know well, especially in the jobs market.

I recall, as a young public relations director, my boss introduced me at a board meeting: “Sure, she’s a dynamo but she’s the prettiest PR director in the city.”

I was floored. I felt like a doll.

Fast forward 10 years, as I left my Fortune 500 advertising director job, my EVP (executive vice president) bid me farewell: “Don’t worry, I’ll remember you as more than just a pretty face.”

Was that the sum of all that hard work?

Crushes careers

Looks cut both ways. Women deemed too attractive risk being taken as a distraction or as unserious.

Too old, too large or too “something” and we’re just not the right “fit” to represent a brand or a boss (no matter how portly or oddly-coifed he or she might be.)

Statistics show that job candidates who are deemed unattractive, or obese, are less likely to be hired, male or female, though women fare worse.

Unfair?

Yes, but sadly more true than not. And it crushes blossoming careers, human potential and our very souls.

Back to the cabinet: the focus on appearance makes me rethink about the rationale behind the other contenders.

If Trump chooses Rudy Giuliani as secretary of state, is he leaning toward an ornery Rottweiler vibe?

Or if he picks yet another General, do the uniform, crewcut and gold stars shout we may be on the warpath?

Trump has had a bit of a looks fixation throughout his campaign.

He mocked Marco Rubio’s height and tweeted that Chris Christie ought “to take it easy on the cheeseburgers”.

Trump goes full throttle on females. He insulted opponent Carly Fiorina’s face, compared Ted Cruz’s wife unfavourably to his model spouse Melania and, among his many Hillary blows, said: “She doesn’t look presidential”.

Perhaps it’s time for a look in the mirror?

When Trump’s cast is vetted by the US Congress, the committee will assess experience, judgment, and records, not hairdos.

Time to get looks off the table and face what truly matters.

Mary Lou Quinlan is a New York-based author, actor and advocate for women. Her latest play Work – about women’s careers – launches in 2017. Visit justaskawoman.com

 

share the love:

{ no comments » }


Now what? Don’t move on. Move forward.

With the contentious 2016 Presidential election finally over, many women are still shell-shocked. Dumb-founded. Lots of hyphenated feelings. The temptation is to commiserate with cohorts and for the victors to demand that everyone else “Move on!” Not so fast. This two year slog deserves a moment to assess and absorb. Lots of segments of the population are conflicted but I’ll focus on women because…that’s what I do. I listen to women all the time.

My read? While some are disappointed in the loss of a woman for the top office ( I tossed my white ‘suffragette’ jacket on the floor and crawled to sleep that night myself, ) more are concerned with the “normalization” of the winning campaign’s misogynist rhetoric. There can be no joy in Mudville when someone wins while demeaning women’s bodies and brains and constituents give a pass to boasts of assault. This election showed me that too many men–and women–have decided that derogatory sexist behavior is an acceptable part of life in the fast lane. Like most women, I’ve experienced my share of nasty remarks and gritted my teeth through borderline (and actual) harassment. Naively, I thought we were better than that in 2016. I had hoped that we had all grown up and grown fuller as human beings. Seems not.

But back to the headline, Now What? I believe that we have a duty to be sure little girls can grow up with the biggest dreams, unshackled by a rating of 1-10. That young women take on careers with the confidence that they count equally with men and not wonder if they are bait for a late night meeting. And that women, as they evolve through motherhood, aging and life changes, will find a welcome place to work with fairness and dignity, without fear of being marginalized. The political pendulum can swing but we can’t tolerate prejudice from those at the top of our organizations, communities or our country.

I’ve heard from my husband’s male friends that they are surprised that the women in their lives are still down and frustrated after the election. I really don’t feel that “Hillary funk” is the problem. It’s that this entire campaign revealed that things haven’t changed and resurrected nightmares of years ago. The election shone a light on the reality that there are too many who will never support a woman for a senior leadership job, no matter how qualified. It’s easy to say that Hillary wasn’t the right one. But what of the next? Will she be too shrill? Too unseasoned? Too…what?

To those cheering the result of the election, I offer this: supporting your candidate based on policies is your right as a voter. But please, as a human being, speak out clearly against any patterns of sexist behavior. Show your pride by holding the new president to the highest standard. And as women, let’s sit down with others of every generation, especially those with whom we disagree. Instead of “getting over it”, let’s get it out on the table.
Let’s not simply move on; let’s move forward. Together. Out loud.

share the love:

{ no comments » }


“Can’t means Won’t”

As a drama queen teen, whenever I’d whine “I can’t clean my room before I go out!” my Mom would say “Can’t means won’t.” Mom knew that language directed behavior. And lately while writing my new play “WORK”, I’ve been thinking about our speaking tics that sabotage results.

Take my fitness routine for example. I had none. I dance twice a week but waltz isn’t always aerobic and I was dipping into too many breakfast sandwiches. Then I noticed the FB posts of a fellow dancer, dietician and fitness trainer Christine Coen. She’d share her breakfast of yogurt with fruit and acai (however you pronounce it) and demonstrate lifting weights. Very large weights. After four months as voyeur, I wrote and she suggested I follow a meal plan and meet her for multiple 10 minute weight sessions lifting till my muscles failed.”FAILED?” But 10 minutes sounded appealing. “Where’s your gym?” A 12 minute walk from my apartment. “Oh, I can’t do that.” The “can’t” reflex. “I already go to Soho to dance and to Noho to rehearse and doctors are uptown and our house is in PA. I don’t want more geography.” Pathetic. Three weeks ago, I got over myself and now admit that the walk is the best warm up for Christine time and it takes, what? A half hour total to take care of myself? (Here’s Christine and happy, if makeup-free-Christineme at her gym.)

Language is an energy driver or crusher. And it carries into life and work, especially among women: “Maybe this isn’t a good idea but…” “Sorry, I didn’t mean to push for too much money…” “I’m not an expert at this but…” In the spirit of making everybody feel good or unthreatened, we undermine ourselves. Our natural talent for creating common ground and avoiding conflict is an asset but sometimes, we’ve got to get our true voice heard. Strong. Certain. Active. “I can.” I can hear the hackles go up as we resist the idea that women need more coaching on this while men seem to stride from cradle to cubicle with confidence. But it’s too prevalent not to mention and I want all of us, men and women, to know our worth. Speak your voice. Oh, and if you are looking to step it up, you can find Christine at Christine.Coen.com I’ll share results when I hit my goal. I can, I can, I can.

share the love:

{ no comments » }


Dancing with all of my Heart

When I received the email inviting me to participate in a one-night “Dancing with the Stars” style competition to raise money for the Catholic Schools of my hometown Philadelphia, I said yes faster than my fingers could hit the keys. They say “you can take the girl out of Philly, but you can’t take the Philly out of the girl” and that is so true in my case. I have always been loyal to those who ‘brought’ me and even though I have never waltzed, cha-cha-ed or tango’d onstage, nothing can stop me now.

I’ve begun four months of training with a fabulous dancer/choreographer/teacher here in NYC and on March 21st, we will hit the dance floor at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. Scared? Not yet. Excited? Over the moon. Please check out www.dancingforourfuturestars.com for details and vote for me anytime if you have the heart! 4700 kids will thank you. (Me, too!)shoese too!)

share the love:

{ no comments » }


March 23, 2017
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK

...

View the full post
The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Go There

press & praise