"When I first saw you, I didn't want Jim to hire you because you are too attractive. And I knew that would be a problem."
Yep. You read that right. That is something a woman on the 'Leadership Team' at the church I worked for said to me. She didn't say, I looked at your resume and didn't think you were qualified, or we didn't know your story, so we didn't know if your values aligned with ours... she said, 'you are too attractive to work here.'
Talk about feeling gut-punched. Here I am working at a church, where there is only one woman in leadership, and she tells me (just flat out says), I didn't want to hire you because of your looks.
I think, as women, we assume other women will be on our side. We see the injustices in the world and the bias towards women, and we think other women will support us. That's not true. And unfortunately, when we are faced with these facts, it can cause us to doubt ourselves.
That one made me question myself. It even changed the way I looked at myself. And I'm ashamed of that.
While working for this organization, I heard things that I would never want my daughter to hear (or believe). So let's talk about some of those.
Along with hearing, I was too pretty to hire, I also heard, "Women like you, who are confident in themselves and carry themselves well, tend to make men stumble."
This is an unacceptable mindset. And I am refusing to allow this mindset to be passed down to my daughter. See, the fact of the matter is, a confident woman is a powerhouse. She should be respected. She should be seen for her abilities, not for her body. The idea that a woman is first seen or valued based solely on her looks is a misogynistic mindset all too prevalent in the church. That mindset allows "Modest is the Hottest" to be taught to our preteens.
I know I will ruffle some feathers with this one, but it's essential. "Modest is the Hottest" is not what should be taught in our churches. Growing up, I was taught that real men would want to have sex with me if I dressed modestly. But if I dressed trashy only trashy boys would like me. I was taught that my entire value was wrapped up in who would want to have sex with me. While also being taught that if I ever had sex with anyone other than my husband, I would be unclean and unlovable. Why are we teaching young girls that their value is wrapped up in the sexual pleasure that they can provide? Why are women of the church buying into this idea?
Take a second and think about the vulnerable position that puts girls in. Now, think about how those girls grow to become women, and still have that mindset. Do you see how we are delivering them right into the hands of predators?
We should be teaching young girls that their minds are valuable and wanted. Their passion is unrivaled and needed to make a change. Their creativity is integral in pushing us passed the mindsets currently holding us back in our society. We should be teaching them to keep their heads high and EXPECT to be respected. We should teach them that their job on this planet is not to pleasure men.
We should be proud of women who have pride in themselves and carry themselves in such a manner. We should have respect for them.
My daughter will grow up knowing her worth. She will see that she should never allow herself to be in the company of people that think her worth only lies skin deep.
You see, that was, in fact, what that single woman in leadership was saying to me. She was saying your worth is only in your looks. That is why I could look at your appearance and say you should not be hired. I allowed it to change the way I conducted myself, and I want more for my daughter.
My daughter will also grow up knowing that carrying yourself with confidence is not a reason to be sexually harassed or assaulted. No matter what she wears, a man is responsible for his actions. Unfortunately, I will also have to teach her that just because men should be accountable for their actions doesn't mean they will act responsibly.
Men (especially men of the church) should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one. Sadly we don't hold them to one. We preach modesty constantly. I heard far too many times men on the church staff say that they kept the buildings cold to force the church's women to cover their bodies. But let me ask you this if a man can not control his mind, mouth, or body when he sees a woman's knees or shoulders, who is at fault? The woman bearing the knees or shoulders as she competently completes her job with her head held high? Or the man who is neglecting his responsibilities because he can not control his thoughts?
My daughter will grow up knowing that while we can not expect those around us to act sensibly and respectably (and as women, we must stay aware of that), we can demand respect. We can wear what we wish with our shoulders back, our head held high, as we walk with confidence. We will not slump our shoulders and look at the ground while staying quiet to make those around us comfortable. My worth is more profound than what I wear or the skin you see. And when people forget that, I will be here to remind them what I'm worth.