Her looks had become a problem, and she was worried that she was “too good looking for corporate life.”
So she wrote into Lucy Kellaway, a management columnist for the FT, asking for some help.
As a reminder, here’s what the 27-year-old lady wrote:
I know that you will think this problem is mad…
As a student I used my looks to make money modelling, but now that I’m in the City I feel they are holding me back. Female colleagues distrust me, while male colleagues are drawn to me, but don’t take me very seriously.
My boss has told me that I need to network more. But I find networking events are ghastly, with all the eager men dribbling over me. What can I do, short of turning up to work in a bin liner?
Banker, female, 27
(We know at least one former Citi banker who could sympathize…)
Today, Lucy wrote back. And she was not sympathetic. In fact, she pretty much said — are you for real??
Here’s what she wrote:
If you were very rich, it would be crass to moan to anyone less rich about what a nuisance it was when charities clamour for money. Likewise if you are absolutely gorgeous, you are only allowed to complain about it to other supermodels. By publicising your “problem”, you make things worse. Not only do people fail to take you seriously, they fail to like you even the slightest bit. Read what readers have said about you on FT.com, if you haven’t already…
That said, I can (just about) imagine that being extraordinarily beautiful is difficult in corporate life – just as being extraordinarily anything can be – tall, small, clever stupid etc. We all know that to be merely attractive is an advantage at work, but to be drop dead gorgeous – as you imply you are – may indeed have the effects you describe on others. The only really beautiful women I know are, like you, endlessly preoccupied by the desire to be valued for themselves.
I daresay you’re right: other women don’t like you, men like you too much. Both sexes will assume that you are cold, vain and screwed up – just as the classic beautiful person is supposed to be. The only hope of counteracting this is to be as friendly and normal as you can and stop worrying about whether people take you seriously.
The full response is at the FT.