Her post, though it might be the lament of one who feels she’s losing out to those she feels favoured by destiny, brought to mind a series of interlinked thoughts. I’m sharing one such below, but with the firm conviction that you don’t have to be born beautiful, you have to grow up learning to groom yourself internally and externally beautiful. This is the gist of my upcoming collection of short stories titled “Existences.”
My airline stint ended in mid 2001, with my transfer to Mumbai that I was unable to take up due to personal reasons. After a few months, I joined the about to be launched luxury hotel of one of the premium chains as reservations manager. The first few months passed rather stressfully in trying to realign my thinking – in working for an airline/organization that gave it’s employees plenty of mental and creative space to prove ourselves so as to promote exceptional excellence in service, to one which had no faith in it’s employees to execute discretion or individuality – so expected you to parrot every word/line you spoke to a guest. I felt claustrophobic and frustrated to say the least but I tried to match their ways and hold on to my flashiest smile even when explaining to prospective guests why our rack rates were double than that of all other hotels in Calcutta at the time. Of course, I had substantive quality training along with the sales department and other department heads, by an international sales consultancy/training firm to do so.
Now came the time when I had to be measured for my fitted designer (Satya Paul) uniform – of a black pant suit with a dotted bow tie. I was shocked when I was called to the HR Directors cabin and crisply told – “The GM (his name was used) and Front office Manager (name used) say you will have to lose substantial weight before you can be fitted for your new set of uniforms. When we interviewed you for the position, you were much slimmer. You will have to revert to that size…And you have a month to do so.”
At 28/29 years, after several years of experience of which this HR head knew well from being in the airline with me, I was not just shocked, but was upset and angry. Obviously sitting daylong at my desk, along with eating the hotel’s meals for months, as compared to my active life at the airline, I had put on weight but I was not fat by any standards.
I had already been facing subtle sexual harrasment from the Front Office Manager, a man from Jammu – a couple of years older than I was. It was so subtle that I could not complain for the difficulty in justifying to senior management, what was wrong in being called up daily just after I’d left the hotel, on some pretext or other – to be very harshly told things like: “Why didn’t you turn off the fax machine in your office?” or many other sillier things.
So anyway, I spent the next month jogging in the mornings before coming to work, slashing my rice and roti intake at the hotel, even as everyone around me walked around in their new uniform. While the FO Manager, a fit and good looking man, grinned slyly at me – making it a point to peep into my plate full of green salad over lunch and dinner both of which I had at the hotel due to long hours.
After two weeks, I was summoned to the HR heads office and reminded that I had another two weeks to go and I was far from the “slimness expected from me” by the FO Manager. Obviously I wanted to walk out the door and never return, but my pride prevented me from losing this battle to his whims. I increased my jogging speed and cut my food intake further, till they approved for me to be measured for my uniform.
I wore the uniforms and worked sincerely till the hotel was launched a month later. Then a few weeks after, I walked out of the hotel after lunch, after another tirade by the FO Manager, informing the HR head I wouldn’t return. I sent my resignation to the GM along with the precise reasons of my leaving, by post. My self-esteem could not take this beating any further though I would not have left – crushing my pride completely in losing out to my predators.
9th May…Adding to the above thoughts:
Whatever you achieve in life, however high you climb – people who don’t have the courage and vision to place their own goals ahead of where you are then, will appease their sense of inferiority and insecurity by undermining your journey.
As a woman the easiest way to have your talent, skills, abilities, perseverance and grit, with your lifetime’s work undermined, is by brandishing your efforts, achievents and confidence – by attributing it to your looks and its fathomed ability to win the world.
Why do you have to look drab to demonstrate your intelligence and abilities to the world…if you have confidence in them! All I have to say to such people who measure their goals by how low they can pull others down, whether men or women is…Dare to improve your goals, rather than finding excuses for your inability to raise the bar: for the first rung of success is the confidence that you’re going to make it up the steep climb. And never compare your weaknesses with other people’s strengths.