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In the last few years, there has been a pivotal change in how women in business are perceived and presented to the world.
In entrepreneurship specifically, we are finally reaching a point where woman leaders are actually celebrated, rather than simply palatable to the general public. However, if you pay close attention to the component of how these high profile women entrepreneurs are presented to other women, there appears to be some cause for concern.
Have you ever considered taking an online business program? Perhaps one of those courses that tell you how to make a six-figure profit in just a year. You’re often cheered on by a woman who claims you are just like her, and she knows exactly what you’re going through.
As convincing as her words may be, you notice that there is a stark difference between you and her. Every time you see an image of her on social media or on her website, she’s got perfectly coiffed blonde waves, a body that looks like she lives on the treadmill, and a picture-perfect smile that makes you question phoning your dentist for veneers.
Why are these women entrepreneurs so often presented this way?
Sadly, much of the cause pertains to our society’s undeniable efforts to value women based on physical appearance, which, even worse, stems from a deep-rooted sexual objectification of women. However, disguised in casual ways like sexy hero shots or airbrushed social posts, the picture-perfect woman entrepreneur is the silent killer of many women’s entrepreneurial dreams.
You might be thinking, “Alright. That’s quite the stretch.” But hear me out. I am not trying to say that there is no room for glam in the business world. I am a fellow beauty-lover, and if that’s your thing, power to you! I am never one to condemn a little glamour. However, the problem lies in how this newfound “standard” deters women from seeing their entrepreneurial potential.
While we may not realize it consciously, this representation of what a woman entrepreneur should look like can begin to create self-doubt in our own abilities and appearances. Suddenly, even if we have a great business venture, we can begin to question whether we’re right for these build-your-business programs offered by these women, or even if we are the “type of woman” to be in entrepreneurship in the first place.
Luscious locks, double Ds, and legs that look like they could be attached to a Peleton instructor are not the criterion for starting your own business. Your appearance has no bearing on your business and the passion you have for it. The reason that women are made for business is not that they are the prettiest CEO in the room. Instead, it’s due to our innate intelligences, such as our high emotional literacy, our inherent ability to create, and our unmatchable passion.
Having self-doubt in our ability, rooted in a comparison of our appearances, has some negative side effects. We perpetuate the completely false message that women are more valuable (even in the business world) if they are societally deemed beautiful. Internally, we can begin to feel less-than and intimidated about getting into this game for which we don’t seem physically qualified.
However, I think we can all agree that a swipe of lip gloss doesn’t guarantee a business deal. It’s the brains, the drive, and the passion behind the lip-gloss-wearing woman (if she chooses) that make women entrepreneurs so amazing.
So, I think it’s time to switch the narrative and stop trying to conform to how you think a “businesswoman” should appear. Instead, celebrate that your strengths, skills, and passions define who you are as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are busy people. Blowouts, full makeup, and an outfit that would make most celebrity stylists envious are not typically part of the daily to-do list for most women who own their own ventures. Instead, most entrepreneurs are decked out in decade-old sweat pants and t-shirts. Maybe they wear jeans, a messy bun, and have slapped on some acne cream due to the stress. Hell, some of them may even be half-dressed for work as of late, given the Zoom transition, rocking business casual on top, and PJ party extraordinaire on the bottom (it’s okay, we won’t tell).
The point being, entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, skin tones, a wide array of outfits, and varying levels of “glam.” Stop comparing yourself to the air-brushed, dolled-up, sexy woman you see telling you that she can make you a million dollars in a year. Even she doesn’t look like that.
You are meant for entrepreneurship for a multitude of reasons, none of them including your appearance. You know you’ve got a whole lot going on in your head and your heart that are going to get you far in the business world. So next time you question what a woman entrepreneur should look like, go put on your comfiest clothes, your hair in whatever style feels best, and take a long hard look in the mirror. That’s what an entrepreneur looks like.