The impact of body confidence on your career
Sadly society has come to equate success with looks. The better looking someone is, the more successful it is assumed they will be. This is a myth that is perpetuated throughout all forms of media, even in childhood fairy tales.
Research has shown that when you feel less confident about your appearance, you believe you should aspire to less. If you feel bad about the way you look, you’ll feel negatively about what you can achieve in life.
In a recent survey, 1 in 5 women said they had not gone for a job interview because of dissatisfaction with their looks. In my own body confidence survey, 11% of women said that body concerns had stopped them from finding a new job or going for a promotion. Clearly, the impact of body confidence on your career is significant for some women.
Defining your worth at work by your appearance minimises who you are, what you can do, and all your achievements. When you fall into the trap of competing at work on the basis of your looks, you tell yourself that you aren’t worth anything else.
We need to separate career aspirations from how we look – why should there be any link? How does great skin or a svelte body make you a better business women, accountant, lawyer, whatever?
The good news is that research has also shown that people will see you as more attractive if you are confident and self assured. Here are 4 strategies that will help:
Challenge the appearance myths at work
Beauty is not a requirement for success – you have far more important assets that will help you to achieve your career goals, despite what society conditions you to believe. Success has to do with capabilities, not appearance.
Beauty is not an ideal to be aspired to at work – beauty is an arbitrary concept that is fleeting and constantly changing. It’s a week foundation for building confidence at work.
Challenge any criteria that you or others set for you based on looks. Just because you look better will you really be more credible in meetings?
List your career achievements and successes
See yourself in terms of your achievements and the assets that you bring to your role. Take pride in your achievements and skills and know that these are not related to your appearance. Put your list up where you can see it and refer to it each time you catch yourself minimising your achievements in relation to how you look.
Don’t hold your career back because of looks
Your looks do not determine how you progress in your career unless you allow them to. A study revealed that the majority of women who are dissatisfied with their bodies tended to blame their looks for other disappointments in their lives including career setbacks.Shift the focus away from your looks and take practical steps to move you forward in your career:
- Make a list of why you are qualified to do your current job. Are there any gaps in your skills? If so, take the appropriate action to work on those skills;
- Where do you want your career to be in 5 years’ from now? Is there a promotion you’d like to be considered for? What skills and achievements will you need to demonstrate to be considered?
- List the people you admire in your field – what makes them good at their job? It’s probably not down to looks!
- What is the worst that can happen if you apply for a new job or promotion and don’t get it? How would you feel if you didn’t apply?
Create a list of successful people & their achievements
In the celebrity culture that we live in, it’s easy to get hung up on equating looks with success, but this is a very narrow version of success.
Think about successful people who have achieved amazing things that had nothing to do with their appearance. What do you admire about them? How would you rate their appearance on a scale of 1-10? For example, does it seem reasonable to judge Mother Theresa’s success based on how she looked? Judging people by their appearance may feel irrelevant given their achievements. Put this list up where you can see it.