"I'm the office 'hot girl' and nothing has ever made me feel more miserable."

I’ve always valued myself as an intelligent person first and foremost. So it’s a mystery to me why everyone at my work treats me like I’m an airheaded bimbo. The problem is, I’m starting to act that way. I’m worried that people’s perceptions of me are starting to change my personality.

When people think of you as a “ditz”, it’s a weird back-handed compliment. They’re basically saying that you’re attractive, but stupid. Sometimes it’s easier just to fall into that warm, fluffy stereotype instead of prove them wrong.

I was the dux of my selective high school, and I won the university medal for my undergraduate degree. Now I’m doing my Master’s degree part-time. Unfortunately, my degree isn’t that useful in the real world, so I’ve been working as a receptionist to pay my bills and occasionally get my nose out of the books.

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I work in a city office, and I’m at the front desk in the foyer, while the rest of the team sits in an open-plan office at the back. I love my job. It’s great to be of practical use to the people around me, and what can I say – I love organising things!

But for the first time in my life, people are starting to treat me like I’m just eye candy.

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) in "Clueless" was often underestimated as a bimbo.


I became aware of this during an interaction with a client, Mick. He was waiting in the foyer before his meeting with our CEO.

The CEO came out of his office, and told Mick that he was running 45 minutes late. He apologised, and asked Mick if he’d like to wait at a nearby café.

“No,” Mick smiled, and then gestured at me. “Why would I leave when I’ve already got such a beautiful view?”


The CEO and Mick both laughed, and I laughed too, but on the inside, I was angry and humiliated.

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Sure, it’s nice to be thought of as beautiful. But not in my workplace, and not when I’d have to be stuck in the foyer with Mick (married with three kids, by the way) for another 45 minutes. No thanks. I was more concerned with the huge stationery order I was working on. The last thing I needed was a pair of leering eyes watching me do it.

This happened early on in my job, and after that, I started to notice it more and more. (Post continues after gallery.)

One of the managers, Andrew, had a habit of stopping by my desk several times a day, just to chat. He always seemed to have a spare box of chocolates to give me, and he must have known that I had a sweet tooth.

One day, I was wearing a red blouse, and Andrew said to me, “I know I’m not allowed to say this sort of thing any more – and I know I could get in big trouble – but you look really beautiful today. Really, really beautiful.” I thanked him, and walked away. He was married, almost twice my age, and had a baby daughter.

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Another time, I was called into the accountant’s office, because he wanted to talk to me about some office supplies he needed. At the same time, two other women had to drop off forms on his desk. “Look,” he beamed from his seat. “All the prettiest girls are in my office. Aren’t I lucky?”

Katy (Amy Adams) became known as "the hot girl" when she visited "The Office" for the first time.


I theorised that maybe all of the men at my work were just sleazy. I hadn’t changed – it wasn’t me.


But then, the girls would also say make comments to me, which suggested that they thought I was just a pretty face. One lunchtime, they were all gossiping about Jesinta Campbell, the former Miss Australia. They loved her new haircut. “Didn’t she get boob implants?” said one of them, before addressing me.

“You should enter Miss Australia – you’re so pretty.”

“Thanks,” I replied, and then my face turned bright red.

“You should enter Miss Australia – you’re so pretty.” (Photo of Jesinta Campbell via Instagram.)


All of these remarks may seem like compliments. But when being "pretty" is the only thing that people notice about you, it can make you feel like that’s all you’ve got – a pretty face with nothing going on behind it.

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It’s a weird thing, as I don’t think I’m a stereotypical “babe”. I’m not a Kate Upton lookalike by any stretch of the imagination.

One theory that I have is that maybe it’s my behaviour. Maybe I’m too bubbly and friendly. If I didn’t smile so much, perhaps people would take me more seriously.

Cerie from "30 Rock" wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.


Truthfully, a small part of me loves the compliments, and I’ve become used to them. This means that I now crave validation for my looks, which never happened when I was sitting in the library poring over my research.

But the downside to this is that I’ve started to actually wonder if the “bimbo” that everyone sees is actually the real me, instead of the nerdy girl that I am at home.

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I’ve started to act like I’m not as smart as I really am. Now, if I don’t know the answer to something at work, I’ll just giggle and say, “I have no idea at all” instead of actually researching and reading information. I’ve been able to get out of boring tasks that way. In my social life, I've noticed that smiling at a boy I like works much better than telling him about my thesis.

I think I've done a Cady (Lindsay Lohan in "Mean Girls).


I hate to admit it, but I also take advantage of all the times that the slimey guys at work offer to help me. Andrew is always happy to bring me takeaway coffee, and even the IT guy is more than happy to fix my computer issues (on my first day, I got a personal email from him that said, “I’m really happy you’re working here. I want to know more about you. Where do you live? Want to hang out later?”).

All of a sudden, I have a power I’ve never experienced before, because I never used to be the “hot girl”. But more than anything, I'd love it if my colleagues showed interest in my academic research or were willing to discuss world politics, instead of saying things like, "So, did you get really drunk on the weekend at clubs and hook up with a guy?"

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Maybe I should just enjoy this while it lasts. I told my uni friends about this, and they all laughed at me, and accused me of reading too much Camille Paglia. They all want to know how this could possibly be a problem. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and for now, I'll grin and bear it.

What do you think? Is it a blessing or a curse to be told you're beautiful? Has this ever happened to you? Give your thoughts and advice to our writer in the comments.