cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, Uncategorized, workplace

Extremes of Fitting In


This week on The Talk, co-host Julia Chen confessed that she gave in to pressure from her boss and a potential agent to have surgery that would make her eyes less Chinese and more Caucasian. They felt that the eyes she was born with were not expressive enough for an anchor’s position. The plastic surgery seemed to work for her because she excelled in her career and her co-hosts applauded her for doing the right thing. So when is it okay to change who you are to please other people?

If my boss tells me I look too black, my nose is too big, or my hair is too nappy to make it in the workplace, where do I draw the line? Do I succumb to racist peer pressure for the sake of a job? We’re talking more than not dressing business professional, we’re talking about the features a person was born with. My dad’s eyes, my mom’s smile, the light spots on my legs I got from my grandmother, the moles that were passed down from my maternal great grandmother’s native American side, all these things make me who I am. It makes me unique. Is changing my outside appearance even worth it.

What about kids who are bullied? I’ve seen stories where parents who have a kid who’s being teased takes their child for cosmetic surgery to correct the ‘problem’. What lesson is that teaching? Yes, they’re right, there is something wrong with you, let’s fix it. What does that do to a person’s self esteem? Why not give kids the ammunition to get past bullying?

Is it okay now to let other people’s opinions affect what we see when we look in the mirror? Do I really want to disfigure myself because my looks offend some jerk who really needs a trip to Human Resources? What about the thirteen year old girl who gets a boob job so the kids can stop teasing her about her flat chest?

Is a job or fitting in even worth that much trouble? If I have to make all these changes to fit in, maybe it’s not a place where I really want to be.

Life is tough, we all know that. There will be bumps, bruises, and roadblocks along the way.  How nice is it to face all those challenges and still be intact when we reach the finish line?  True, Ms. Chen got her dream job, but is the victory still sweet when she looks into the mirror and sees a totally different person staring back at her? How does it feel to reach your goal, knowing you took the easy route?

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