For the first time in our country’s history, there are more women than men in the work force.  We may not be earning as much money as the dudes but at least you’ll be seeing more of us out there.  It’s no surprise then that I’m hearing women, especially women in their 40’s and 50’s, talking of looking great not necessarily just for the guys in their lives but to maintain their confidence at work  So what does it mean to stay attractive for one’s career?  What does “attractive” look like?  As a beauty editor of a national, well-known magazine said to me, women, especially those over 50, want to “stay in the game.”  They don’t just want to look young.  They want to SEEM young.  So they dye their hair blonde, work out, and keep up with the clothing trends.  While all this may increase a women’s sexiness, it also makes them appear fresh, fun and ready to take on the world.  Our culture is obsessed with youth not just because we don’t want to lose our sexuality.  We fight aging because, from the get go, our culture and economic system have reinforced the need for youthfulness.  The Industrial Revolution defined the economic system for America, as it occurred around the same time the country was developing.  Factories relied on the vigor and speed of youthful workers.  On a deeper level, America was built on youthful ideals — rebellion, the pioneering spirit, creativity, fantasy.
The quest to stay beautiful, i.e., young, in the workplace may seem misplaced, even pathetic.  After all, why can’t our society accept us as we are?  Well, I would never contend that beauty/youthfulness should be a determinant for success.  After all, old age often equals experience and wisdom — highly necessary traits in today’s tumultuous economy?  But maybe can we view beauty as a way to inspire us to be more productive and creative. We all believe devices like iPads or the latest Blackberry will help our productivity.  But, let’s face it, we also love them because they are essentially adult toys!  We are, in some way, transported to our youth when we “play” with these things.  Like all toys, they look cool and spark our imaginations.   Looking young is certainly a way to fit into the workplace.  But the attitude that it engenders — the sense of creativity, open-mindedness and optimism — may actually help us to be more creative.  And who doesn’t want that?

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