This post deals with sexual harassment and might be triggering for some readers.
I don’t know why but I decided to wear a white dress. Now that feels like a strangely subconscious decision, to accentuate how ‘good’ I was.
I went to this interview in my dress. It didn’t go for long and all I really remember is being told: "You’re pretty! That’s good!"
I wasn't surprised. It was know that only "pretty girls" worked at the place where I had applied. Pretty girls, and one token boy.
Watch: I sometimes wish I was a man when... Post continues below.
I’m assuming this was to fill some quota to avoid a discrimination lawsuit.
This job planted a seed. As a deeply insecure girl, I decided there had to be some value in being "pretty".
To have value in something so meaningless was easy. But, slowly it became what I thought was the most important thing.
And, even worse, it was used to excuse behaviours that were abusive and problematic.
"Pretty" was how you sold the product.
We were told to make sure we were always nice, to smile, and to wear either dresses, skirts, or tight leggings.
And no matter how rude or mean a customer was, you always had to be the one to apologise.
From the legal working age, I learned that as a female there was apparently a monetary value in looking nice and making people feel good.
Hospitality was one of the many industries that knew it too.
I had a similar experience in every other hospitality job I worked at, and it only got scarier.
For the next few years I would accept jobs where I would be yelled at, overworked, underpaid, gaslit, sexually harassed, and called "stupid". I would complain but the sentiment seemed to be "it’s not life or death".