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work makes you ugly November 3, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Observations.
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We all check out the opposite sex at work. Guys check out girls (and gay guys check out guys). Girls check out guys (and gay girls check out girls). It happens. We all know we do it, and to a certain point, as long as it’s not ostentatious or creepy, we accept it and move on.

I’m not going to lie to you; I do occasionally look at the women I work with. And I noticed something at a recent meeting* I was in.

There’s a woman in our marketing department named Alice. She’s been working here for about a year. She’s capable, professional, and pretty.

But she used to be prettier.

I remember when I met Alice. She had a nice, slightly-rounded face, and looked like a comfortable, attractive mom (she had given birth about four months before being hired). But as the months have progressed, I’ve noticed her becoming thinner in the face and also a little in her wrists. Her face is becoming a little lined, and more triangular than it had been. Maybe some of it was baby weight, but I’m willing to bet a lot of it was stress.

Because work makes you ugly.

Two people in my department have gained weight since they started working here; one you can see it pretty easily, but the other it’s very subtle. I myself have noticed my first gray hair. A woman who works near me has stopped trying to look as pretty as she did when we first met; she’s also gotten a lot angrier and a lot less spontaneously friendly. A very pretty woman who started here about 18 months ago has become more brusque and snappish, even toward the people she supervises — and who are often just trying to help her out.

Now, I work in a fairly stressful profession**, but no one should age as much in a year as my co-workers have. Not just physically, but also emotionally. In this field, no one gets a break, and no one’s really on vacation; even if you are on vacation, you still have to know what’s going on in the office and in the industry. It’s pretty difficult.

Take a look around your office. Look at the folks who’ve only been working with you for a year. See who’s gained weight (and looks it). See who’s lost weight (and not in a healthy way). Listen to how people talk to each other. Work is work — that’s why they don’t call it “fun” — but it shouldn’t wear you down to a frazzled, unpleasant version of your former self. Not every day, at any rate.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to stop any time soon.

* Yeah, I know, surprise surprise, I was in a meeting.
** Anyone who really knows me is probably laughing right now.

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