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November 16, 2007


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Attractive people always draw more attention. This is a truth we all must live with. By making our appearance as attractive as possible we enable others to notice our potential. Unfortunately people are superficial and the way you look can impact the number and size of opportunities available to you.

Business casual is really hard, especially for women. I've had some success with the book "Casual Power" by Sherry Maysonave.

I work in high-tech, so the rules are a bit more relaxed (I'd never wear a suit to work - the most "dressed up" I get is a black jacket over a button-down shirt with black pants - the same thing I wear on interviews), but I've noticed that I get taken more seriously when I dress well - especially by other women.

When you make a speech presentation, 70% of your message comes from the non-verbal cues such as your manner of dress, your facial expression, and the confidence you project. Only 30% of your message ultimately comes from the content of your speech. This is the reality of the working world and why image and appearance are terribly important!

I can tell you that most overweight people do not fit your stereotype. At all.

Sure most don't fit the stereotype. However, the stereotype still exists and its unfortunately what most people choose to believe.

Perpetuating the false belief that all they do is eat junk food and sit on their rear all day does nothing but keep the lies flying.

The above rule applies primarily to the private sector. In many federal agencies such as the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, career advancement is governed primarily by race, gender and sexual orientation in order to create the appearance of diversity. Good looks and physical fitness can be a detriment in certain work environments.

Justin --

I didn't say that "all they do is eat junk food and sit on their rear all day." I said that eating tons of bad food and not exercising is bad for you. The exact quote was:

"Much of being overweight is simply a discipline issue (I know, some is a medical condition, but far less than simply eating too many Twinkies and watching six hours of TV every night) and who wants to hire someone who isn't disciplined?"

Have you seen the stats on how much junk food (sodas, sugar, etc.) the average American eats and how much TV the average American watches? There's no denying that the way we eat and recreate has a major impact on our health and weight.

Mind addressing the discipline issue?

I guess you missed the part where you said simply eating too many Twinkies and watching six hours of TV every night then. Discipline has very little to do with being overweight. Some overweight people can lose weight with more exercise and eating less, some underweight people can eat all they want and still be stick thin.
Don't get on your soapbox and claim that all that overweight people need to do is stop eating twinkies and exercise more.

"Discipline has very little to do with being overweight."

Really? Not in my experience. I was overweight because I was undisciplined. So I changed my eating patterns, started exercising, and lost 35 pounds -- and it's stayed off for several years now.

I think if you look at any weight loss method, the recommendations will be the same -- control eating and start to exercise. In other words, discipline yourself.

If you want to avoid this issue/advice, then it's fine with me. Just know that Trunk is right -- it will impact your career. As I said, I've seen it happen.

Justin - let's be realistic, most people that are overweight are that way because they are not disciplined - either eating too much or not exercising enough. Can you find exceptions? Absolutely, but they are few and far between.

My thought is that you don't understand what you're talking about, and you never will. Being overweight (without twinkies and with trips to the gym! can you believe it! and still fat!) my whole life COULD HAVE turned me into a mousy person that doesn't ask for raises or promotions or credit for a job well done. Thank god I spend my life ignoring people like you - I make $150,000 a year and my career is going rather well, I'm setting up my own shop next year. And I weigh 250 pounds! Thin people that are considered attractive (even though they can pound down the trans fats and lay around all day too - they just don't "look" unhealthy to you) are used to people liking them for their looks and getting away with things fat people can't. Basically, the cute people are tricking you into thinking they're good at their jobs, and the fat people are dealing with all of your transferred body image issues.

Thanks for being yet another moron with a body size bias, and perpetuating the mess I have to face because I can't starve into an acceptable size for you. Are you going to drop pearls of wisdom about black people or gays next?

You just lost all credibility with me. Keep saving your pennies, because you're never going to make any money with your brain.

More fire for the fuel, I seem to remember studies done that include such things as height and hair (have vs. bald). Taller people with good hair are seen as 'more' intelligent and do better in the job market, regardless of other factors. Short(er) bald people had less 'intelligence' and 'credibility'. I wish I remembered the study because it stuck with me due to those so-called insights.

Pretty unfair, but that's kind if the gist of this whole conversation. Basing judgements on perceptions rather than true qualities.

I do feel sometime the same, but the other way. I am not fat, but very puny to make an image. This keeps switching, sometime I feel its the content you know/prove and not the image and sometimes I feel image does play a role. I couldn't draw a conclusion though. Anyway, this will come in handy when I feel, image does play a role. Any advice for puny person like me (I am 5 feet 2 inch tall and very lean, barely any muscle or mass). I try to dress up (though my work involves extreme casual, technology work), but that vigor falls apart after a week or two.
Any tips highly appreciated. Thanks.

I think people are getting really defensive and should reconsider. FMF's point is not that people are overweight because they eat twinkies and watch tv all day; the point is that people are overweight because of a lack of discipline to eat well and exercise. And that's not really debatable.

Being overweight doesn't mean you can't be successful, rich, disciplined in other areas of your life, beautiful, smart, or fun--but it means you aren't exercising discipline over your diet and activity level. That's not some terrible insult; most people don't do it, and it's hard to do it in this culture. And yes, many people manage to be thin in spite of their lack of discipline (damn them). I will be the first to admit that I don't exercise the discipline I should in that area. But please don't be so defensive.

The bottom line is that the way you look and present yourself matter a lot in your career. Which is a very true thing that people should take into account.

I was hoping for more comments on actually how you look impacts your career.

The advice about dressing for your next job is pretty good. Maybe I should start wearing a suit most days, as I mean to rather than just smart clothes. On the other hand, I always take the jacket off in the office anyway, so it might not make too much difference.

I should also probably do something about my shoes. I think this is going to have to wait for the January sales. :(

I'm an old woman compared to all of you guys (my kids are 29 & 23) and I gotta' tell ya' being thin feels better and helps me cope with life's little problems more constructively. My salary is $35,000, I finished college 4 years ago and I work in a call center BUT I dress professionally everyday because I feel more professional. And I like the distinction of my dress between work and home. There is a correllation between saving money and enjoying food but not too much or often. I'm not sure where I'm really going with all of this but I know what makes me feel good and when I feel good, I get better at implementing the "less is more" approach to all aspects of being alive. Okay, end of sermon.

P.S. I meant to add that I do believe my overall appearance affects my performance as well as attitude at work and yes, I have received recognition by upper management. Only time will tell if this will take me to another level but what have I got to lose if at the end of the day I feel happy and accomplished?

I just found this website and I like most of the articles, and at the same time I realize that the comment about "simply eating too many Twinkies and watching six hours of TV every night" is an incredibly insulting and simplistic view of things. HOWEVER (and I say this being, at the moment, a 5'10" male weighing > 300 lbs), at the end of the day, there is a kernel of truth there.

Some people can eat ice cream and cake for dinner every day and have ripped abs. (I have a very good friend who does that. Seriously. I mean it. And he's 40.) Some people can't, and must exercise and eat right to stay in good shape. (By "good shape" I don't mean "supermodel thin", which is idiotic. Just be the healthiest ideal 'you' that you can be.)

The simple truth is, for any particular person, the amount of 'discipline' YOU need is the amount that YOU NEED. You either have 'enough', or you don't. Anybody who makes comments like above is an idiot and over simplifying, the amount of self discipline fat people need is far far more than most skinny people have ever had in their lives, they have no idea of the kind of challenge you face. But even so, you either have 'enough' or you don't, and if you don't, it's YOU who suffer, not anybody else.

So I guess I'm trying to say, the comment about twinkies and TV is crap, but that doesn't give us an excuse. We all need 'enough' self discipline to tackle our own problems. So he's right in a kind of backhanded, ignorant self delusional way.

I've also seen studies that, if you're a woman, wearing a skirt will make you 85% more successful. I know that's hard to do in the dead of winter, but I've used it to my advantage on days that I knew would be tough.

Also, women who do their hair and makeup well make 20% more than women who don't. I noticed after I started wearing makeup every day that my raises got bigger. I figure the extra minute it takes to put on lipstick and mascara are well worth the extra percentage or two I'm making over my peers.

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