I'm Beautiful: Women Struggle to Define Their Beauty in the Workplace

Article excerpt

MORE THAN 80% OF BLACK WOMEN CONSIDER THEMSELVES beautiful, according to a survey conducted by Procter & Gambles My Black is Beautiful initiative in conjunction with Essence Communications. Sixty percent believe that there's a relationship between their appearance and the respect they receive from peers and supervisors in the workplace.

The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 black women between the ages of 18 and 49, found that women allow their work environment to alter their serf-perception. Almost one-third of women surveyed reported that they work hard to ensure their personal style fits the work environment, while 12% say they have altered their personal style to feel accepted in the work environment. Twenty percent said that they believe the way they wear their hair really matters at work.

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Not surprisingly, 54% of those surveyed believe that black women's beauty is more heavily scrutinized at work than other racial groups and nearly half of the women surveyed (43%) thought that black women are more focused on appearance in the workplace than other racial groups for that reason. One-quarter of women said that they don't perform as well on the job when their beauty confidence is down. Another 16% said that co-workers influence their personal perception of beauty.

"These findings are important," says Najoh Tita-Reid, associate director of multicultural marketing for Procter & Gamble and visionary of the My Black is Beautiful initiative, "because when companies and employers celebrate diversity, not only does black women's self-confidence increase but so do morale and performance.

Tita-Reid adds, "More important, the initiative is a call to black women to define their own standard of beauty and not look to the negative portrayals of African American women in the media or to co-workers or to anyone else to define their beauty. …