Fox News host Eboni K. Williams recently admitted to the New York Post that her looks helped her advance her career.
Referring to her upcoming book “Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success,” Williams discussed her feelings about her appearance, which she felt was a feather in her cap when it came to getting the jobs that she wanted in the media.
“I really struggled with reconciling caring about what I look like,” she explained, “because it matters, particularly as a woman — and being professional and very aggressive in my ambition. I felt like a walking conflict.”
The 28-year-old law school graduate admitted that as a child, her mother allowed her to participate in beauty pageants, which she claimed helped her poise for her future endeavors.
Williams revealed that her mother, despite meager financial circumstances, brought her up to appreciate a polished look, and that the family even went without home-cooked meals for a period of time so that her mother could afford $3,000 for Williams’ orthodontic treatment.
Despite being referred to as “Barbie lawyer” in the courtroom, Williams said that after law school, she made peace with her good looks.
“I had a female mentor who told me it was OK to be concerned with my aesthetic. It was actually beneficial to my clients,” Williams said. “You are always representing something at all times with your appearance, [whether it’s] your client or business entity.”
Her rise to fame — and how her appearance played a role
After her stint in courtrooms, Williams began her television career on Bill O’Reilly’s former Fox News show and claimed that, if it weren’t for her appearance, she may not have gotten the job. She is currently a co-host on “The Fox News Specialists.”
“I can never know the exact determining factor in being extended that offer, but I am certain if I didn’t ‘look the part,’ I would not have had the opportunity to have that conversation about my other, more merit-based qualifications,” Williams wrote in her book.
About her work mantra, Williams added, “A marriage of [style and substance] at the maximum levels really yields incredible results.”
Toward the end of her interview with the Post, Williams zinged feminism in one thought.
“Everything that I’ve heard about feminist theory is rejecting that appearance matters,” she explained. “That women shouldn’t be evaluated on what we look like. Until the playing field is completely leveled, I’m looking for those opportunities we can take, [in this] rigged system so to speak, and work it in our favor. We should be jumping at the chance to give ourselves an advantage.”
While many people might not consider Williams a “feminist” for riding the coattails of her physical appearance on her rise to success, it’s hard to argue that she doesn’t have the brains and substance to back up her beauty.
The Huffington Post in 2011 posted an interesting article in which Dr. Vivian Diller claimed that there were only two avenues for women to explore when it came to their physical appearance: care or don’t care. While that seems like fairly rational reasoning, it doesn’t apply to Williams’ case.
Calling the issue of being concerned about your personal appearance versus not placing priority on it “The Beauty Paradox,” Diller said:
Message One: Your looks shouldn’t matter. They are superficial. It’s what is inside that counts. Stay true to your real self. Let your looks take their natural course as you age.
Message Two: Your looks should matter and they always will. Defy aging at whatever the cost, in any way you can, lest you become invisible. Oh, and be sure to make it look natural!
These contradictory messages create an internal conflict that I believe many women aren’t even aware they are feeling. The first step is acknowledging the paradox exists so we can learn to navigate it and ask ourselves the tough questions: If we let our looks take their natural course, will we feel better? More loyal to our sisterhood? Beautiful on the inside? If we focus on our appearance and try to look our best as we age, have we given in? Betrayed our feminist beliefs? Lost sight of what is most important?
What Diller seemed to argue is that to care about your outward appearance somehow diminishes what you, inside, have to offer.
Williams, however, breaks the mold with her sentiments, and proves once again that you can be a strong woman and not have to cave to stipulations of “the sisterhood” in order to fit into an intelligent, working woman’s mold of what it means to be successful.