Luncheon encourages positive body image for professional women
COLUMBIA - More than 100 professional women will be discussing body image and its influence on work life at a Columbia Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday.
The Chamber's Women's Network invited speaker Struby Struble to present media images of women, media literacy, and the finances of women's beauty and professionalism. Struble is an MU alumna with years of experience speaking about body image, feminism, LGBTQ issues, diversity, and social justice. She said images of women in the media often perpetuate an unrealistic idea of beauty, negatively influencing both women and men's expectations of women's appearances.
"Men can wear the same suit and shirt, change out the tie, and completely get away with it," Struble said. "But women are expected to wear different shoes, different accessories, different outfits, and different makeup and hairstyles every single day. If a woman doesn't meet these standards, she's considered unprofessional. But if she does make an effort to look put together the way society says she should, she's accused of being shallow."
Struble also pointed out the high cost women pay to maintain a professional appearance. She said women's professional clothes, accessories and beauty products also frequently cost more than men's professional clothes. In September of this year, the Institute for Women's Policy Research released the latest numbers: women in the U.S. earn 78 cents for every dollar men earn in the same jobs. Struble concluded that despite being underpaid, women spend more money on their appearance in hopes of earning equal respect automatically given to male colleagues.
One man recently proved Struble's point. Australian TV news anchor Karl Stefanovic noticed his female co-anchor was frequently criticized for repeating outfits on-air. Stefanovic decided to wear the same suit every single day for a year and nobody noticed.
"I'm judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humor - on how I do my job, basically," Stefanovic told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Whereas women are quite often judged on what they're wearing or how their hair is. Women, they wear the wrong color and they get pulled up."
Struble said she hopes to give women tips and strategies on how to start or continue a healthier and more positive relationship with women's bodies.
"I think a lot of women feel a lot of negativity about their bodies. So instead of saying, I want to eat better and get fit because I love my body, a lot of women say, I need to eat better and get fit because I hate my body. We have to accept and love our bodies exactly the way they are right now. Once we do that, then we can make some changes from a healthier place," Struble said.
The luncheon will take place Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Peachtree Catering and Banquet Hall off of Nifong Boulevard in Columbia.