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Debrahlee Lorenzana: Too hot for work?

First, thank you for missing me on my blog. Here I am at last. I don't like to blog just for blog's sake.... rather, prefer to blog when compelled. Today, I wanted to talk about that story all over the national news about the 33 year old woman who was fired from Citibank for being too pretty. I feel a certain twist of injustice here... to womankind, by womankind.

I want your comments!

On one hand, I do know that travesty exists when it comes to pretty women in the workplace. They are often the victim of unsolicited advances by male co-workers and the subject of gossip by jealous female co-workers. I am sensitive to that. Also, the issue of "dress code" is such a slippery slope... so many of the companies where I worked struggled with striking the balance of how to approach someone who is distracting. Additionally, I, myself, have had experiences both as a "woman" who has experienced harassment (benign flirtations albeit inappropriate) that I learned to handle myself... and also as a manager of a department where young women were, on some fine line/opinion a bit risque. It's a tough situation on all sides.

So with that background... I have a pretty clear head about all sides of the issue as being quite a complex one.

The case of Ms. Lorenzana, however, is over the top. The fact that she is a pretty lady with a complaint is a situation, alone and of itself, one that evokes womankind compassion, generally speaking.... Upon first hearing the headline news that Citibank fired her on dress code issues makes me wonder if that was fair to her. I feel for her in that regard.

UNTIL the rest of the story unravels... and surely we will be hearing more soon to the twisted plot....

The fact that Miss Lorenzana posed seductively for the Village Voice in numerous attire as if to springboard a new line of clothing is, to me, opportunistic and an egregious embarrassment to womankind and offensive to real women who suffer consequences for being too pretty and harassed. She has not done a service to us women by her actions following the lawsuit... she has belittled her own complaint, demeaned her character by flaunting herself to paint sexuality with a broad paintbrush to exclaim through her actions some sort of statement as if, "I am what I am" and "all pretty women like me are subject to discrimination" which is simply a dramatic inflation that doesn't jibe with reality.

Do you applaud her for this?

This is a twist on things good and right. Personally, I'm offended by the aggrandizement and shallow "in your face" self-marketing this woman has done as some sort of representation of all women. She does not represent me.

I say, kudos to women who can look great, who ooze inner sexuality and can't help it, but who are sincere in their achievements in education and work efforts to earn their position. and present those assets instead of "ass"-ets. Learning to play by corporate rules isn't for everyone (I certainly have my own issues there, which is why I work an alternative arrangement that is more flexible and enriching, allowing me to be me on my own schedule in my fuzzy slippers if I want in my home office). I know it's hard to play by other's rules, but there is a fine line of distinction and a certain decorum that renders one as a pillar of righteousness if they learn to work within boundaries of a system and balance difficult fine lines. If a boss is out of line, a quiet and personal lawsuit is warranted, but to make a Barnum & Bailey 3-ringed circus about it is extreme and disruptive.

With no college degree and only a few months employment history at Citibank, she went on a campaign taking pictures of other women at the office to build her case to show that other women dress as she does and she "can't help it" that her endowments are more outstanding than theirs. Well, duh.... As a woman myself who is a "D" cup bra size and to give you an example... I know that things my young daughter might wear which are strappy and cute and non-sexual, may come off as horrifyingly lurid if I were to wear such in my size. There are styles women know they can pull off or can't and you often learn that the hard way (comments by co-workers, who will tell you... "Uh, honey... don't wear that") It's the ways we've learned to become socialized human beings a few levels above the food chain of the animal kingdom.

And so, the point of all of this is... Society loves to blast the institutions as being wrong all the time and make it a "Them versus Us"... the lawsuit happy people, the fights for freedom which really aren't fights at all, but some man-made bullshit to talk about and poke fun at.

It is interesting to me that in her interview, which I viewed on, that Deborahlee is wearing a thin white top in which her nipples are taut. Doesn't matter that it is "natural" that we women have nipplage in response to air conditioning, for examples. As professionals we exercise judgment to minimize attention in the office place by ensuring our undergarments offset such a thing when we KNOW it evokes stares and glares naturally by men, particularly if we are attractive. That's not being a prude, that's being responsible. AND, that's not to say we don't show off nipples when we are in another environment... the beach, a club, whatever.

Do not misunderstand the point of this blather here... I'll be the first one to speak out on the rights of a woman, but in this particular case, this typical male response I'm hearing of, "I give credit to this woman for positioning herself in the media to make her statement," to be an insult.

I am a pretty woman who can be sexy. As a psychologist, I know the nature of man. As an office professional, I know how to balance attractiveness and select clothing that enhances my figure while being dignified.

I am tired of seeing bellies with infected sores from belly rings in the classroom where I teach. I am tired of seeing males boxers because young men wear pants to the ground (is this really still in style). I don't like seeing tattoos of swash stickers or roses on butt cracks when I have a meeting with someone. Cleavage is understood as a reality for large breasted women, but plunging necklines, no bras, etc. is not. And while Lorenzana doesn't exhibit any of these extremes, her poses in the magazine whoop it up enough to present her as on some campaign for naughty invitations.

In a nutshell, it sucks that we even have to deal with embarrassing dress codes, but it is totally unnecessary to have some nobody like Miss Lorenzana, self-proclaim to be "spokesperson" for women's rights to be sexy.

I look forward to the rest of the story and also hearing your comments about this.


Jilly said...

i ignored this article, but read one today where a woman in AZ is mad b/c she was asked to get off a machine at the gym b/c she's over the weight limit. I'm sure there are better ways than going up to her and point out that she's too fat to be on the machine. They could have said, could you follow me for a moment? and then had a small whispered talk out of the way. However, machines DO have legal limits a) machines can only hold so much weight and b)people ever a certain weight shouldn't go full-throttle on a machine. I didn't just take up running, I spent months doing cardio, walking, weight lifting, aerobics, dancing etc, before i stated walk/run training and now just run.

my anger here is that in the TV interview she said "I wanted to lose my baby weight." The woman appeared to be 350-400lbs. THAT'S NOT BABY WEIGHT. And then people reponded with "gyms hate anyone that's not like barbie." No they don't. They want people to stay safe, not harm themselves, break EXPENSIVE machines, or hurt others. The gym would be liable if she'd hurt herself, or someone else and possibly broke the machine.

They apparently set up a work out plan for her to do water aerobics (a great way for large people to do cardio and weight training that's no impact and doesn't require machines). I don't know if she took them up on this, but she probably should have. You don't need to swim to do beginners WA, you just need some clothing (not even a suit) and to get into the pool and follow the moves they teach you.

after they asked the woman to get off the bike, they told her she could do waling in a cardio room and she turned them down stating she can walk for free, which is true. they gym offered to let her out of her contract for free, but she's still toying with the idea of suing.

it is bad that they embarassed her, but does that mean she has a right to sue? There are weight limits for safety, she was over these limits and the contract she signed stated that.

i hate that they're passing this off as fat discrimination. This isn't the case. They made plans just for her, and let her know she was too large for the machines ahead of time. Sure they were jerks about telling her to get off said machine, but that's not discrimination, that's being a jerk. If she were under the weight limit for the machine, but still obese, then I'd hop on the discrimination train, but that's not the case. It's sad to say, but at some point, if your weight is such that you have to worry about chairs not holding you, being denied access to a roller coaster, having to get a seat belt extender on a plane or buying an extra seat, you lose all ability to bitch at a gym that enforces WELL DEFINED weight limits on equipment. That's the same as getting mad that the infant car seat won't hold more than 20lbs or an elevator that doesn't hold more than 1100lbs. No one is picking on you, that's just the way it is. if you want a machine that holds more than the standard limit, they make them, but they cost 3 times the price as the standard machine because the parts cost more and weigh more. Buy your own bike meant for your weight and ride in your livingroom. i decided that a gym membership was a waste of money for me because the gyms with childcare near me are over $100 a month, so instead i bought an elliptical, some DVDs, hand weights and walk outside. I've lost 71lbs and am doing just fine. if this lady really wants to lose weight, she'll find a way.

in the end, don't call it discrimination if it isn't discrimination.

Roger Curry said...

We discriminate all the time. Nobody will hire me as a male model based solely on their subjective opinion that I don't fit the "handsome" criteria. Dear Jilly, you are correct (indeed, prescient) that everybody seeks to sue when they should reflect on their own responsibility and behavior and most folks give little thought to the feelings of others when interacting with them.

And despite posturing as a roue, in truth I've always found the dress-to-get-laid, macho-male, expose-this-or-that looks in a workplace both boring and a marker for poor judgment. I have told a few young woman employees to cool the look, and invariably they've said they honestly didn't know it was inappropriate, and I believed them.


Jilly said...

roger, i believe it because a lot of young women's clothing is more suited for street-walking than being an adult. what you can wear as a 16 y.o. isn't the same in your 20s and at work. i've had some problems with this now that i'm in a size 8. sales people LOVE to give me clothing that i deep not appropriate for my age and place in society. sure i can pull off a cute little micro-mini jeanskirt, but SHOULD i? heck no.

however, after one person telling you how to dress, one should get with it. Work clothes don't have to be going out clothes. perhaps someone should have handed this woman a copy of a clothing catalogue with a few good examples circled? oh, and it's okay to not always be the super-uber sex-pot.

i'm sure some men are very uncomfortable by women who dress skanky at work, it leads to gossip and terrible implications that might or might not be true. and other women can be catty and mean, but if they're right, then there's little claim of "discrimination." i'm sure citi will just settle it to get her to go away, which is sad, i think they should fight it all the way. c'est la vie.

Spidey said...

being beautiful is a curse. ;)

MelissaTheRagamuffin said...

It's interesting that you posted this now because yesterday our intern showed up for work in a pair of short shorts. They weren't Daisy Dukes but they were close. Since C has been known to make interns cry, I spoke to her and told her that 1) she really didn't want C to see her dressed like that, 2) under no circumstances was she to answer the door dressed like that, 3) don't come here dressed like that again. She was really clueless that she was dressed inappropriately. She said that I often have shorts on when I am leaving work. I told her that is the point - I am off duty and dressed appropriately for what I'm about to be doing - riding a bike in the heat. I do not hang around the office dressed like that all day. She still either didn't or refused to get it, so she will probably show up dressed like that again today at which point C will probably reduce her to tears.

Jilly - I think a gym that has machines that can't accomodate a fairly high weight limit has some nerve charging for membership. If the machines at my gym have weight limits, I haven't heard it. That or the weight limits are very high because they're good quality machines, and I have seen some seriously big people on those machines. There is a woman at my gym who was probably every bit of 400 lbs when she started, and she uses the machines. I was commenting on how good she looks the other day (she's probably down to around 300). I probably started running sooner than I should have, but one of the reasons I never considererd water arobics (besides that my gym doesn't offer it) as my cardio is the simple fact that it doesn't raise my heart rate. Consequently, not only do I not lose weight I gain weight, so it's a monumental waste of my time.

I'm really glad you've lost all the weight you have, but what worked for you will not work for everyone, and your hollier than thou attitude about it is really starting to grate on my nerves.

Jilly said...

Mel, it really depends on how you work out and which type of water aerobis you take. I don't feel I have a hollier than thou attitude, but you're, as always, entitled to your own opinion. I'm happy this woman wants to make changes, more power to her. Not all gyms are for everyone. I don't currently belong to one because I can't afford to join the one that fits my needs.

Not all gyms carry heavy duty equipment, or ALL heavy duty equipment. I toured a ballys where they had colored stickers on machines that indicated the weight limits allowed.

as to "how dare they charge her?" well it was in the contract and she signed it. She's an idiot for signing it before reading it. Do i read every contract? no, does it bite me sometimes? yep. that's how life is.

doreenmary said...

this is a video with Debrahlee as spokesperson for her plastic surgeon (talking about her second breast augmentation). Her comment in the news is that this interview from a few years ago has no relationship to the Citibank case. Oh really? You decide if anything smells funny:

MelissaTheRagamuffin said...

Jilly - I agree that not every gym is for everybody. I would never go to a Curves. I could probably destroy their weight machines without meaning to. But, that has nothing to do with my weight. I has to do with my strength.

We really don't know what is in that gym's contract. I pulled out a copy of the contract I signed with my gym, and nowhere does it mention weight limits of the machines. It says things like I agree to have membership fees deducted from my checking account every month, I will wear a shirt at all times that I'm not in the locker room, I will not let another person use my key fob that opens the door of the 24/7 area, or let someone piggy back in with me. It says the gym is not responsible for injury or my medical conditions. It says I have to clean the machines after use. But, it doesn't say anything about weight limits.

But, giving the benefit of the doubt that it is in their contract, it is still unethical that they didn't tell her - because nobody reads the entire contract. It's human nature. It's the reason that we read the rules and polcies to new clients where I work. That is in addition to giving them a copy. That way they can't say they weren't told.

Also, when I joined my gym, I was given a free week so I could check things out and decide if it was the right gym for me. Gold's does the same. I don't think Curves does, but I might be wrong. I also don't know about the Wellness Center (owned by the hospital). I wonder if this gym did anything like that. I wonder if she was allowed to use the cardio equipment before she signed her contract.

mavis sidebottom said...

hurry up and have your pms crisis Doreen Im bored

Anonymous said...

It is about that time because I'm Divaing right now.

Beysshoes said...

I think people like Ms. Lorenzana are responsible for obscene interest rates on credit cards from banks like Citibank. I'd vote for a hefty frivolous law suit penalty. Just one more reason we need common sense regulations across the board ... referring to frivolous law suits not dress codes. An adult should be held responsible for their bodies and atire and consequences of actionable indiscretions, don't you agree? It seems unlikely that an isolated incident caused her firing.