Thursday, November 18, 2010

'I'm...too sexy for my job...'

I'll be following this case with interest. Amy-Erin Blakely claims that she was fired from her job at the Devereaux Foundation, which provides mental-health services to children, for not heeding warnings to deemphasize her overly large breasts. She also alleges that she'd been denied career advancement at Devereaux becauseI'm quoting from the HuffPo's account hereshe was "too sensual to be promoted." It's the second such high-profile case to emerge this year, the first involving Debrahlee Lorenzana, who claimed that Citibank fired her, in essence, for being too hot. It does not come as a shock that feminist attorney Gloria Allred is handling the litigation in both cases.

I have known women with large breasts and surreally provocative figures who
how shall we put this?got perhaps a bit too much satisfaction out of being provocative, but only provocative. There's a derogatory term, most often voiced by teenage boys, that I find generally despicable and I'll not use here, but I do think there are women for whom it sort of applies. In Lorenzana's case in particular, it appears that all may not be as it seems, and in multiple senses.

On the other hand, a woman with big breasts, or the folkloric "great ass" of which Pacino spoke so eloquently in Heat, or whatever other physical attribute one wants to catalog, is, in my view, under no obligation, zero, either morally or professionally, to "dress down." And I think it's important to state the obvious here, which is that in no way is this a male-on-female crime, at least not exclusively. I've heard women say snidely of female coworkers (I bet you have, too), "She's too big 'up there' to wear a top like that," which implies that certain styles or cuts of clothing are "legally" reserved for less amply endowed women. I do not believe that.
(Another classically catty putdown: "Who does she think she is, coming in here dressed like that?") Beyond meeting certain standards of professionalism in terms of the general nature of the clothing itself,* a woman, any woman, is entitled to wear what she damn pleases. And the rest of us just have to grow up and deal with it. It strikes me as horribly unfair to tell a voluptuous woman that she must come to work in the sartorial equivalent of a potato sack lest her male colleagues be unable to control themselves and either mount her or begin touching themselves during staff meetings.

Which is why I'd really like to know, more specifically, what they mean in saying that Blakely's appearance was "a distraction." What cataclysmic chain of events did her bodaciousness set in motion? Were the company bean-counters suddenly unable to count beans? Did the window washers outside the building, transfixed by her cleavage, fall off their scaffolds?

just maybewas Blakely's appearance mostly "distracting" to the other gals in the office?

* meaning, if you're supposed to wear suits, don't show up in jeans.


Dimension Skipper said...


"...high-profile case..."


Good one.


RevRon's Rants said...

I'd have to see first-hand what the ladies were wearing before making my own judgment call as to its appropriateness in a given business environment. That said, I'm inclined to agree that the "objections" might be emanating primarily from other females, and that management is simply to wussified to tell them to mind their own cans and quit bitching about hers. But on the other hand, I wonder whether the women being pressured might be looking for publicity, notoriety or even a cash cow in the form of litigation (or a Playboy shoot).

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: Re Playboy etc., read the second link about Lorenzana.

RevRon's Rants said...

I followed the link, and googled other images, as well. Not blatantly suggestive like a Playboy spread, but I'd wager that if anything, her appearance would encourage some additional customers to make deposits.

Steve Salerno said...

"Make deposits," huh? Clearly any hope I had of taking the high road here is lost... ;)

Make sure you check the second link about her, however. It's the one that specifically discusses her Playboy ambitions.

Anonymous said...

Hot! diggety! dawg! Steve, you've got taste!

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: That sounds a bit too over-the-top to be sincere. And--I confess--that the art shown with this post does not represent my particular taste. That said, in the spirit of optimism that today's culture seemingly requires of us, I've resolved of late to take anything said to me as a compliment, unless the speaker is simultaneously pointing a .460 Weatherby at me.

Anonymous said...

If it's the lass in the news stories... where are the big pillows? She doesn't look chesty at all.
How odd.

Anonymous said...

You're right Steve, I meant to say bah, is that it? I've found sexier things in my cornflakes, take it away from me, meh!

RevRon's Rants said...

Finally escaped from building Connie's bookcases long enough to check that second link. Pretty well clears up questions about her motivation.

For the life of me, I can't see the attraction in a body pumped up tighter than a basketball with petroleum byproducts. I hope her aspirations are worth the health problems she's likely to face when the silicone starts leaching into her body.

Steve Salerno said...

It's not directly on-topic, but speaking of being artificially pumped up and surgically altered...I take it you have seen the heiress known to wags as the "Bride of Wildenstein"?

If not...brace yourself.

Supposedly she has spent a seven-figure sum on "enhancements."

Anonymous said...

LOL! So we have a bunch of (wonderful, of course :) guys on this thread, gossiping about certain aspects of women's bodies, while pretending to disavow such behavior and attribute it to female cattiness.

Irony, thy name is (insert your own, if you are a male commenter on the thread ;).

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth. Go back to church. There are things you need to confess.

Anonymous said...

Did you clip that picture from a TSA recruitment brochure?

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 12:22: Depends. Are you referring to transportation security? Or does the acronym mean something else in your mind?

Anonymous said...

Yeah that's the one, I've been following the anti TSA meme, interesting. American media controversies are interesting and rather hard to avoid on the web.

RevRon's Rants said...

Elizabeth - Perhaps if more men were to make it clear that they didn't care for siliconized, reconstructed bodies, fewer women would be inspired to engage in surgical self-abuse.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz and Ron: I think this thread is in danger of being hijacked into an anti-male direction that is wholly unwarranted and unfair.

First of all, as I've heard my wife and other women say many times, "Women dress for other women. Men just think we dress for them." That may or may not be true to the forthright degree at which it's stated, but surely there is no minimizing the phenomenon to which it alludes, where gals are constantly appraising (and, let's face it, dissing) each other based on "how she looks." Often, women are their own worst critics, at least in my experience. And if you don't believe me, just watch an episode of Bridezillas, if you can make it all the way through.

It would seem to follow logically that many women are no less fanatical in their feelings about each other's bodies and how they, ahem, stack up. My own experience, again, affirms this. Guys may be idiots for going all gaga over a nice set of boobs (and also for confusing raw sexuality with "beauty," a topic I've covered on the blog), but women are at least as extreme in their cattiness, forever rating and critiquing one another, and even clicking into downright "savage mode" when a woman is, perhaps, a bit too voluptuous for the rest of the group.

I guess my bottom-line point is that this whole body-image thing is culture-based, not specifically gender-based. I don't think any of us can say precisely why women do the crazy things they do to maximize their lustability quotient, but there's no denying that that obsession is just "in there," deep inside many women as a prime motivator of behavior.

How it got there...and what we can do about it (assuming we need to do anything)...those are the $64K questions.

Steve Salerno said...

And as a p.s. to the above thought, I don't think it helps matters that mothers start tarting up their daughters by the time they reach kindergarten. The ultimate expression of this is the world of pageanting, which is unfathomable to me. Why a mother would want to outfit her 6-year-old in fishnet stockings or a bustier and have her go up on stage, turn her back to the audience and do a little a grandfather to three wonderful little girls (as well as a grandson that, I would hope, develops the proper feelings about women), I find that whole realm deplorable. It isn't "cute." It's borderline sick.

Anonymous said...

You know, I don't really care for siliconized, reconstructed bodies.

Anonymous said...

I think this thread is in danger of being hijacked into an anti-male direction that is wholly unwarranted and unfair.

Oh, Steve, c'mon. Seriously?

Apropos, I think you've answered your implied question below:

I don't think any of us can say precisely why women do the crazy things they do to maximize their lustability quotient

with your own earlier observation:

Guys may be idiots for going all gaga over a nice set of boobs (and also for confusing raw sexuality with "beauty")

That's your answer right there, as old as the human race itself.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: Ok, but women--I hear--also like a guy who cleans up after himself, dresses in something other than stained sweatshirts, and offers to do the dishes and/or take the garbage out...and yet those preferences don't seem to have done much to modify male behavior, have they?

Point being: Why do women go along? Are they that lacking in self-possession?

Anonymous said...

Why do women go along?

Biology and culture, no?

Same reasons why men try to impress women with their status, power and intellect. It is the eternal "game," or bind between the sexes that keeps the world going.

Well, that's my answer and I'm sticking with it, but if you have a better one, I'll listen.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: Well, at least that's a more overarching answer that distributes the "blame" equally among Nature, men, and women. I just tend to bristle at an analysis that goes only so far down the path, stopping as soon as it finds a convenient man to condemn. ;)

Anonymous said...

yet those preferences don't seem to have done much to modify male behavior, have they?

Depends on your company, I guess.

BTW, are you saying that the pressure from the beauty industry (other women, etc.) has modified women's behavior in this respect?

I'd have to disagree. Women from time immemorial have been adorning their bodies and paying attention to their appearance. Female beauty has been prized and worshiped since the beginning of the human civilization -- is it really surprising then that women pay attention to it?

BTW, VW futedly.

Anonymous said...

Steve, seems to me you have misread my initial remark, probably because I didn't express myself clearly enough.

I didn't condemn men in general or specific men (on this thread, for example) -- just made a humorous (or so I thought) observation on how incongruous the message of your post was with the content of the comment thread. Is all. :)

Dimension Skipper said...

Of topical relevance, here's my local listing for ABC's...

Primetime: Celebrity Plastic Surgery Gone Too Far?
Wed, 11/24, 10:01 PM (59 min)

Heidi Montag, Peter Burn, Janice Dickinson and other celebrities talk about their own plastic surgery experiences; Chris Connelly and Lisa Ling report on revision operations and the rising trend of teenagers getting plastic surgery.

As the saying goes... "Check your local listings." Don't know that I'll watch, but thought some folks might be interested in checking it out if they're not travelling or baking pies or some such.

Dimension Skipper said...

I forgot about the ABC Primetime show until it was 15 minutes in, then tuned in to check it out. What I saw was definitely eye-opening.

I would hope that anyone thinking of getting any sort of cosmetic surgery (at least for vanity/self-esteem reasons) would take the time to watch it and thus at least be really REALLY aware of certain things going in. They may still dismiss it as "scare tactics" or "Well, that won't happen to me" or "I won't feel that way" and maybe they'd be right, but at least they'd have some warning of the potential hazards and pitfalls and wouldn't be able to say "No one ever told me..."

It struck me that so many women (and I gotta believe it's mostly women) seem to just assume everything will go well and that the only consequences will be the benefits which they imagine/assume. Interesting how this speaks to recent topics around here of media and how people tend to seek out (and see/hear) only that which will confirm what they are looking for in the first place.

To be sure, they also showed some surgeons who were very good at what they do... when it comes to the actual surgeries, at least. And not every story was a complete horror, some had happy endings (for now). I still have to wonder, though, about how some of the surgeons don't seem to be too eager to tell some young women "You know, you're really quite beautiful the way you are and I would recommend you not touch a thing because the risk doesn't justify the potential reward, plus there can be long-term drawbacks much more serious than the short-term benefit to your self-image."

I also found it amazing when they're wheeling out one woman with her swollen face and bandages and as she's still groggy from the anesthesia, the surgeon's telling her "You look beautiful!" Uh, no, at that point she didn't. She actually did end up looking quite good (though not significantly better imo) once she actually recovered, but there is no way anyone could say she was beautiful when wheeled out of the recovery room. I understand the need to comfort and reassure the patient, but I would think a simple smile with "Everything went very well and I'm pleased. I think you will be too once you heal properly" would be sufficiently and realistically honest, yet reassuring.

Of course, there's always the added dimension with such shows as to how much doctor/patient interaction is really indicative of normal reality. Are either the doctor or the patient really being true to themselves or are they perhaps saying/doing more or less than they might were the cameras not rolling? With any documentary format, I always get just a hint of such unreality, wondering how "true" the picture is under the circumstances, but that probably can't be helped short of truly hidden "spy camera" techniques without informed consent prior and legally I'm sure that just can't happen, not for airing on major network TV anyway.