Work, Gender, and Being a Diva


I’m no fan of Michele Bachmann but I admire the fact that she looks pretty good on the campaign trail.

I know this is an expensive feat to accomplish. I actually sympathize with her because I am speaking at ACE 11, Microsoft, HR Tech, and NBC Universal in the next 45 days. I also have client meetings. When you’re a dude, you can roll out of bed and look good enough to hit the stage. When you’re a woman with a little bit of age on her, poor lighting is not your friend.

When I speak, I try to achieve a concept that is stolen right from The Hunger Games. It’s called beauty base zero. I want my hair and skin to look nice enough in pictures but not too fancy so that my looks (good or bad) factor into the discussion. And as I get older, this is getting harder to accomplish.

So for every conference where I earn a speaking fee, $100+ is spent on having my hair blown out. Depending on where I am speaking, it could be more. And I could spend another $100+ on make-up applications. Sometimes it’s more if I have to have a private make-up artist come directly to my hotel room.

No, really, I’ve done that.

It’s unfairly expensive to be a woman who does any kind of media. But you say — Laur, this is a choice. You don’t have to do this for a living. And you really don’t need all that make-up and whatnot. Your natural looks are enough.

Yeah, well, okay. That’s easy for you to say. But if beauty makes a difference, and it does, I’m the first to admit that I need all the help I can get.

I’m not ashamed (that much) of my natural looks. Pffft. I’m fine. I’m not embarrassed to be seen without make-up. I am not trying to deny the aging process or cling to my youth. I’m just trying to keep my looks out of the discussion in a really judgmental, sexist, youth-focused world. And when Marcus Buckingham or Dan Pink has to spend money on having their dark circles covered up, I’ll be a little happier.

And I’m certainly not going to dog on Michele Bachmann for being a diva. In a world of too much religion in politics and staggering unemployment in places like Nevada and Michigan, I would much rather criticize her horrible political positions and her crazy choice in “submitting” to her husband than her excessive budget for hair and make-up.

Leave Michele’s looks alone.

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