Too Beautiful To Work Here


Where do writers get their ideas from? The popular answer seems to be “from everywhere.” How is that for clarity?

Neil Gaiman has an article on this topic, in which he says, “You get ideas from daydreaming. … from conversation. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

What about the office, and ideas popping out of every conversation, meeting, happening? I think that’s what happened recently at my workplace.

A young, beautiful woman, came into our office for an interview and was rejected for being too good-looking.

Apparently, she met with two male partners, but after having encountered several female employees, after having been deemed too beautiful by said women — she’d be a distraction walking the hallways, exchanging meteorological information by the water cooler, and we don’t need disruptions, really — her resume didn’t make it to the right folder.

What about brainpower, you ask? In a law office aptitude is/should be the driving force behind hiring decisions.

Well, once she was called egregiously beautiful, once the hallways erupted with: She’d have all the men (or maybe it was said everyone) distracted from their work, the consideration stopped there. No male partner wished to hire or discuss this beautiful creature whom, even if good for the job, would damage the office psyche with all her … beauty.

Case closed.

Although the talk stopped almost after it started, for a little while the office was taken over by the one person who took the elevator to our floor, walked into our lobby, exchanged pleasantries with people in the waiting room, made her way down the hall to her interview, and created all the hoopla.

I couldn’t stop thinking: this would make a great story. Depending on the viewpoint, the hero may become the villain, or the anti-hero may take on the villain only to have the hero (heroine) come to the rescue, but wait … that’s all been planned by the hero and anti-hero to bring down the villain. Aha!

Okay, I haven’t considered the fine points, only looked at it as an intriguing story idea, especially since beauty is usually an asset, or at least not a drawback, in such a situation.

Feel free to brainstorm with me, tell me this is a bad idea, or share your experience.


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29 responses to “Too Beautiful To Work Here

  1. Wow. And….no, just wow.

  2. It’s a great idea. It shows how small-minded people can be, even those in prestigious jobs and whom are deemed at least semi smart. Book smart and people dumb. Too bad for that beautiful woman, and too bad for those who may have missed out on a adding a great employee to their team. Sorry, but I say it like it is.
    P.S. (I would have befriended her just to piss the others off, and I would have had her meet me at the office to grab lunch together. :-) )

  3. Ok, I come from an older generation, so let me update you as to what happened to me in the work place in downtown Los Angeles. I was about 24 or 25 and worked as an Administrative Assistant for an insurance firm in the DMJM Bldg. on Wilshire Blvd. I had three experiences. I carpooled with two of my bosses since it was during the gas shortage and we were traveling from Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach. One boss had ice hockey tickets so he asked me if I wanted to go. What the heck, no big deal… we were both married. It would be fun to see an ice hockey game as I’d never been. On the way home, my boss asked me if I wanted to check into a hotel room. I was stunned, and politely said “no.”

    Then shortly after this incident we had a company Christmas Party at the office. The big wigs were invited as were clients. It turns out the head of our office tried to set me up with his boss, the Regional Manager. A bunch of us were going to a different party after the office party. I ended up with the Regional Manager and had to again avoid a sexual relationship. I was young and very naïve.

    Finally, one day my boss asked me to go pick up some coffee for him from the coffee shop down the street. Since our building was owned by an architectural firm, they had the first eight floors so our elevator did not stop at any of those floors. This is also the days of high heels and mini-skirts. So on the way back from picking up the coffee, the elevator was empty as I walked in. Just as the doors closed this well groomed man dressed in a suit jumped the elevator. As I quietly stood there, the man knelt down beside me, looking up my skirt, running his hand up my leg toward my bottom. I was trapped. The elevator wasn’t going to stop and I didn’t have a clue of what to do. I was afraid if I did anything I would get hurt. When I finally was able to escape the elevator, the man called out that he was “looking forward to seeing more of me.” My response, was “not if I could help it!” I went into the office shaking, scared, and told them what happened as I was crying by then. The people in the office LAUGHED at me!

    Eventually, after I left the company, the one boss went through a divorce as he was cheating on his wife with the Service Rep. They were going on business trips together and sleeping together. The wife, in the divorce, sued the company for sending her husband out, knowing that he was sleeping with this gal. The wife won.

    It is ridiculous that a good looking woman can’t be safe in a company. Sadly, the mind-set between men and women is still archaic. I can give you more tales… but this is enough for now.

    • Wow, Gwynn. I’m sorry you had to go through all that. What a loser that guy.

      I worked on Wilshire Blvd. (L.A.) for years, luckily with nice people. But, look, I have seen plenty of misbehavior in the work place, and when a real attractive woman is involved it gets dicey. When I worked in Century City, we had a woman file a complaint because one of the male bosses used inappropriate language around her, not directed at her, but he apparently made it a point to go into sexually explicit details (by talking to other men) when she was around. Of course, she could’ve told him to cut it, but considering his position (higher) she was at a disadvantage and afraid she might lose her job if she spoke up. I used to walk away from assholes like that in my younger days, trying to avoid a situation, but I’m way over that now. I just tell them to stick it (in much nicer words, of course. :))

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your experience. I really appreciate hearing back. Talk about ideas, you sure have some good stories to write.

  4. This is indeed an interesting concept. Of course, you could add the element of jealousy in the mix. Perhaps the women didn’t want a beautiful woman working with them because they had hidden agendas: insecure, having an affair with the boss, some shady business going on in the company…To be followed. :)

    • Women can be very catty indeed, Carol. Knowing the women in question, I don’t think there is an affair going on, but I’ve been wrong plenty of times before. :) Thank you for reading and commenting.

  5. Wow. Seems almost like a case of reverse discrimination. I definitely think you’re onto something here, if nothing other than human resources law, depending on what state you work in…I used to be head of an HR department and this smacks of foul play to me. However, CO is an “at will” state and doesn’t have to worry about breaking the law by doing ridiculously stupid stuff like this. I mean, the law ought to be changed, but as of right now, our company could have done that, as long as we kept her resume on file for seven years…
    Yeah, go for it, Silvia!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

    • California is an “at will” employment state as well, Tina, and the person wasn’t an employee anyway. Not to mention the “he said/she said” this falls under, making it even more of a gray area. A good story nonetheless. Thanks so much for reading.

  6. Women can be the worst backstabbers of other women. I hate it; this is a prime example. Write it. She suffered the same effects of discrimination seeminly without the same recourse.

  7. I may have to steal this and use it as a What If? Because that is great fodder for a story of some sort.

  8. This is flat out discrimination, sexualization and not to mention general assholery. Makes for a good story idea, but a really awful reality.
    If a very handsome man would have come to the interview, I bet nobody would have rejected him because he’d be a distraction. When do misogynistic pricks get called a “distraction” for harassing every woman in an office?

    Treating a person’s looks as their overall defining quality, even when the topic at hand (job interview for something else than modelling) has no focus on looks, is a reflection of how deeply biased western culture is. Biased towards sex, sex appeal, and social role (also based on sex and looks). A beautiful woman can’t possibly be just a woman. She must be treated differently than other women because she must be an object of sexual tension and harassment. She couldn’t possibly be just a person who wants a job to make a living, right?

    Argh. This makes me so angry. And so fucking glad I don’t live in the States.

    • Good point, Veronica. If a handsome man came in, he would have probably been judged differently. Sad state of affairs, although I’m not entirely sure this is only happening in the States. But God, that was awful to witness, let me tell you, even if it was a short-lived experience.

  9. This is a really good story idea. You can make the beauty are truly nice person, but she could just as easily be a conniver who uses her beauty to get ahead. I do know one truly gorgeous young woman, a friend of my daughter, who is one of the nicest of all her friends. I know she has had trouble because of her beauty – including men who weren’t interested in her for her (just wanted eye candy on their arms), jealousy, and disrespect for her intelligence. This story idea is ripe!

  10. Gwynn, your stories could be a powerful tale to tell future generations why we need feminism. That is rediculous.
    Yes, good story. Compelling idea!

  11. There is so much to this story, Silvia. You should definitely use it somehow. I enjoyed reading all of the comments. Much progress still needs to be made regarding women in the workplace. I know because I work in the petroleum industry where progress is even more slower than the norm. When I watch Mad Men, it reminds me of the 1980s.

  12. Wow. Seriously? That’s… I can’t even find the word. Words. Terms. Whatever. Who knew beauty could work so *not* in one’s favor? And underlying all this is nothing–not even envy–but feelings of inadequacy: the women feel minimized, scratched into oblivion; the men think they’ll be deemed sexist if they’re the one to speak out for hiring her, and perhaps feel intimidated, too… Physical beauty is the great divide, isn’t it?

    Go for it, Silvia. I look forward to reading the results of your brainstorm on Fiction-L :)
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

    • Good point on the men fearing they’d be deemed sexist, Guilie. No one wants to grow a pair anymore. They just go with the flow and keep it all PC. Thanks so much for reading.

  13. Hi Silvia .. I think it’d make a good story – probably from all sides … but from a real life point of view – it’s awful .. happened to me and is just not on … but those who can fight their way through are winners all the way – but we’ve got to have very hard exteriors … I don’t!

    Cheers Hilary

  14. Awesome post. We writers do see things differently.

  15. Hi Sylvia, slow on my response here but I’ve been away. I did have a smart phone so read this some while back but it’s not that easy to comment using a phone. Beauty can be a hindrance – it’s a question I think about from time to time. Do those who are less physically attractive work harder to make it in the world? And are thus more successful? Do those who are more gorgeous have an easier time of it? Or wonder if they were hired for their beauty and not their brains? It’s crazy isn’t it –
    All of the previous comments touch on various aspects of this intriguing post. Thank you.

  16. Silvia, I just remembered an old conversation that I had regarding what men expected of women. This conversation was with a 97 year old gentleman who grew up in Brooklyn. He said that “women were expected to be pretty and stupid.” I was shocked! I had thought that this mindset was purely singular, but not long after my conversation with this man, I heard an elderly actress express exactly the same thought.

    To some extent I definitely believe that mindset is no longer totally true… BUT… how much of it IS still true?????? Food for thought!

  17. My family was talking about this very same subject! Of course, we had all seen this discrimination at one time or another. To require a woman to “beauty down” is ridiculous. “Mad Men” shows the time period when this was a really huge problem.

I welcome your thoughts.

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