Breaking the “Bimbo” Syndrome

A good (and extremely pretty) friend of mine wished me to do this blog, but I already was contemplating doing something similar anyway, therefore, I obliged gladly and it was well echoed that this was one typecast that a lot of girls feel intensely about.

So, to walk you through it, I will have to tell you one of those really embarrassing encounters that I once had that I’d very happily like to obliterate from my memory forever.

We were doing really well in business and people were starting to talk about us – I would get calls from potential clients requesting meetings and showing interest in our work.

So, on one such occasion, I took a very high profile client meeting (so high profile that if I were to make this story public and reveal the client’s details, they will definitely face a lot of flak from the industry who’s who).

I reached their office a good ten minutes before the start of the meeting.

I was dressed in a maroon sheath dress with my hair freshly blow-dried and had taken my absolute favourite Louboutins out for a day trip. Now, it is important to tell you all how I was dressed, as very soon you will realize the context. As I walked out of the powder room, fixing my matching ox-blood lips with a little extra gloss, I was asked by the receptionist to take a seat in the conference room.

I realized in a few minutes that I was not the only agency called for this meeting – There were several other organizations similar to mine who started making their entry one by one. Soon, the room was filled with men (and just another woman) and we began. The client arrived with one of his minions and addressed everyone to showcase their pitches, one by one.

Well, since I was doing this for a while now, I had my regular piece ready, where I walked the audience through everything that we do and how we do it better than others, pausing here and there to let them absorb everything I said. I would then talk about numbers and graphs, analytics and research and end my pitch on an elevated note, knowing fully well that I had, sort of, nailed it.

This time was no different too – I felt that the client looked pretty awestruck with everything I said. When we were done and I was waiting near the lobby, someone from their team took me into another smaller room.

This is where the disconcerting series of perditions began. The assistant sat across the table as I sipped on my cappuccino.

He began, “The boss is really impressed with you – He felt that you’re a classic example of Beauty with Brains.”

Oh, here we go!

“So, he loved the way you spoke in the meeting and your clarity of thought and speech. But, most of all, he asked me to tell you that he found you to be absolutely beautiful.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes that I was sitting in the HQ of one of the biggest multinationals in the world and was being spoken to like this.

I didn’t know what else to say, but thank you.

I had a lingering feeling in my head that this was beginning to go in a way that I was not going to be comfortable with and was quickly commencing to spiral down the rough terrain of my own imagination of what would come next.

The thing he said next, really flabbergasted the hell out of me!

He offered me a job!

“Our boss feels that since you are so good looking, we have a proposition for you. He is in need of a personal assistant who would help him with his day-to-day work, organize his schedule, and face the clients and business partners on his behalf. The package is great too.”

“So, what do you think?”

I was momentarily at an absolute loss for words.

In my mind, I began thinking, “Was the lipstick too much?”

But as the mercury shot through the roof of my head, I thought, “Why should I apologize for how I dress? If I like to dress well and look pretty, that’s my prerogative!”

I asked him with slight mock in my tone, “And how much is this good package that we are talking about?”

He gave me a number, which I must say, was a fat paycheck, considering that the position was of a secretary.

But he had already rubbed me the wrong way, and he had to be at the receiving ends of the shower of wrath that was about to follow.

I took a deep breath and began.

“Well, Mr. Whatever-Your-Name-is, firstly thank you for those kind words – I am glad that your boss thinks that I am beautiful. But I would have to say no to your proposal. I am beautiful, but I am also an entrepreneur and a business owner. Does he think that just because of his compliment, I would leave something so paramount as my work and join forces with him, to be his secretary? Does he know that other than being beautiful, I am also an engineer? Does he know that other than being beautiful, I have also started my own company with no external help and have been able to run it successfully for the last three years?”

I ignored the eyes that were shooting up and down from the cubicles in the adjacent hallway as my voice shrilled a little higher and continued.

“What is this “Beauty with Brains” nonsense? Why is this phrase so loosely used for women only? I am sure people like yourselves have coined this term as another ploy to restate that beautiful women cannot be smart and vice versa.”

“Why is it such a surprise to your boss who himself perhaps has his brains addled, that, someone beautiful can have intellect too? No wonder that many women have to make themselves look less attractive to look smarter, courtesy people like you. As per you, anyone who wears a tight skirt and has a red pout is a “bimbo” or “blonde” – It is surprising that my beauty was successfully injected into the thick skin of your boss, yet he completely missed all the brain behind my work! And to think that he would have the audacity to offer me a position that writes off my intellectuality is worth accolades, really! He clearly has no brains, and no beauty either (since beauty is so starkly important to him)!”

I gathered my things as the assistant gaped at me with his mouth half-open.

But before I left, I said one last thing.

“Whatever monthly package you were offering me, is good, no doubt. But, take that number and multiply it by twenty – that’s the monthly revenue I make, in a not-so-good month.”

And with that, I swung my bag like a boss and left their office in high spirit, with the rhythmic clicking of my Louboutins ringing like the sound of sweet success in my ears.

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