9 Things Women Have Been Deemed “Too Pretty” For

From reporting on campaign finance to doing biology, women in a variety of fields have been passed over, underestimated, or even fired for being too attractive.

1. Campaign Finance Documents

New York City Council candidate Ed Hartzog (above) responded to a female reporter’s question about campaign finance documents by asking, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing reading those?” He later added, “I hope for goodness sake that my flippant comment isn’t going to be part of the story.”

2. Dental Assisting

In late 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that an Iowa City dentist was fully within his rights to fire his assistant of ten years, Melissa Nelson, because she was “irresistibly attractive” and a threat to his marriage. The dentist also allegedly told Nelson that if his pants were bulging, then her work attire was too sexy.

3. Banking

In 2010, Debrahlee Lorenzana alleged that she was essentially fired from Citibank because she was too attractive — she said her employers banned her from wearing turtlenecks, fitted suits, and high heels. Her case is now closed, and she’s not at liberty to discuss how it was resolved.

4. Nonprofit Work

Also in 2010, Amy-Erin Blakely sued her former employer, a nonprofit children’s mental health services provider, which she said subjected her to constant harassment over the size of her breasts. She said the company told her that her large breasts were distracting her coworkers and that she was “too sensual” to get a promotion. The suit was settled privately in 2011.

5. Microbiology

wavebreakmedia / Via shutterstock.com

Science blogger and microbiologist Tara C. Smith recounted this exchange with a laboratory-product salesman at a professional conference:

[Retail Sales Guy]: But you can’t be a scientist!

[Me]: I can’t?

[RSG]: No, you don’t look like a microbiologist.

[Me]: Um, what exactly does a microbiologist look like, then?

[RSG]: Uh…

[Me]: Because I’m pretty sure that I am one. (Rummaging through bag, digging out ASM nametag). Yep, that’s my name, and that’s the microbiology conference logo right there.

[RSG]: But you’re too pretty! You should be in Hollywood.

6. Homework

This one’s for kids — in 2011, JCPenney offered the above shirt for 7- to 16-year-olds, allowing them to proclaim themselves “too pretty to do homework.” It’s no longer available.

7. Grad School

This one is especially sad as the “too pretty” comment comes from another woman. At Psychology Today, Heidi Grant Halvorson recalls meeting a very attractive — and very accomplished — candidate for the psychology graduate program she was currently enrolled in. She was sure the woman would be admitted, until a professor told her, “I don’t think we want her here, do you? I think she’d make the rest of us feel like we aren’t pretty enough.”

8. “Saturday Night Live”

Larry Busacca / Getty Images

When Michaela Watkins was cut from the cast of SNL, the Washington Post’s Tom Shales opined, “Watkins may have been just too classically pretty to be hilarious.” He’d previously said in an online discussion, “I thought Ms Watkins looked like a model; very elegant, quite quite pretty. It seemed like maybe comedy is too messy a business for someone like her.”

9. Any Job

Gunnar Pippel / Via shutterstock.com

In one Israeli study, conventionally attractive female job applicants were actually less likely to get called for an interview if they attached a headshot to their résumés than if they left it off (attaching a photo is apparently common in Israel, among other places). The study authors noted that the majority of hiring managers in the study were female, leading them to attribute the result to “jealousy” — though lots of other factors could be at work.

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