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the brand girls: how to fight back against “pretty young girl syndrome” in the workplace

We’ve all been there. A coworker says “wait, you’re how old?!” in a meeting and then it feels like the only thing someone in the office thinks about when they look at you is… your age. 

While there’s nothing wrong with being young and successful, a lot of times your age (and your looks) can determine how you’re seen by others at work more than your work itself.

Let’s have a chat about what I like to call PYGS (Pretty Young Girl Syndrome). It all comes down to yet another age-old stereotype: the pretty, young, ditz.

A lot of people see an attractive young woman and assume, intentionally or unintentionally, that being attractive is her most powerful tool. Little do they know, being attractive and being smart are not mutually exclusive characteristics.

It can be a difficult stereotype for women to overcome. How often does someone jump to the conclusion that a woman has either beauty or brains?

“Because society values women for their appearance, this carries over into the workplace. If we are not used to taking women seriously for their intelligence and hard work in general, then these traits may be overlooked by employers or coworkers,” says Dr. Jennifer Brandt, Director of Women and Gender Studies at High Point University. 

“Or, women are prejudged based on stereotypes, and passed over for assignments and promotions because they are not seen as “mature” or “serious” enough for the task.”

It’s an issue that women in business, especially women with higher job titles, seem to face fairly often. Iman Oubou, crowned Miss New York in 2015, shared her take on the subject in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar she titled “I Was Told I Was Too Pretty to be a CEO.” 

But, no matter what anyone thinks of you, or the way you look, the only opinion that really matters is what you think about yourself. 

Reminder: You are a #girlboss – not because of the shoes you wear or how much makeup you have on, but because of your attitude and work ethic. Never forget it!

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