Instead of hearing encouraging things and being told that we can accomplish anything in life because of our talents, ambition, professional and life experience, and personality, we college students are cautioned that the wrong wardrobe can make or break our chances of securing a job. We are told that a poor first impression can screw you over for a lifetime.
I legitimately sat through a 45-minute lecture about professional clothing choices last semester, complete with photos and shameful comments detailing students' poor clothing choices at job fairs.
Are you telling me that my physical appearance—i.e., how my body looks in someone else's eyes—holds more weight in life than my inner character?
Than my professional experience?
Than my college degree?
Than my relevant skills?
Than my creativity?
Than my social skills and ability to communicate?
Are you telling me that you would actually turn me down if I did not meet your standards of appearance? That you would completely disregard my potential because of the way my body looks to you?
As college students, we shell out hundreds of dollars for "interview appropriate" clothing every year. We spend hours scrutinizing our hair, skin, and nails in preparation for our first day of work at a new job or internship.
The sad thing is, I bet we would be better employees overall if we spent more time ironing our character than we do ironing our work pants.
Growing up, I always hoped that the right people would accept me for who I truly was. I never imagined that I would one day be scrutinized for my outside appearance.
I never imagined that I would be cautioned against tattooing my skin in a "visible" region of the body. Cautioned against dyeing my hair in a "crazy" hue, such as pink or blue or green. Cautioned against wearing ripped jeans—as if distorted or frayed denim is the enemy of the business world or something.
Personally, I think it is very immature to determine someone's salary, employment potential, or importance in the world based on physical characteristics, including clothing and body appearance. Just because someone doesn't shop at J. Crew or Express before sliding into the interview room does not mean that they don't deserve the job.
That is completely ludicrous.
Seriously, how shallow can it get?
Simply put, you should be ashamed of yourself if you can't accept someone for the person that they are. You truly don't deserve to have them in your presence. You don't deserve to have them work for you.
They could be the next great innovator of your corporation, but you will forever miss out on having that opportunity.