A few weeks ago, I quit my job.
The decision was a tough one, but I had given it a lot of thought and been planning it for months. During that process, friends and family gave me a lot of great advice: don’t settle, don’t give up, and most importantly- don’t lie about anything. Be honest about your skills, be honest about yourself, and be honest about your situation.
The day after I quit, fate stepped in to help with my job search choices. A friend from school sent me a simple text that would completely change my world, “Would you be interested in applying for a Fellowship at the Huffington Post?” I screamed in the middle of a CVS parking lot, and immediately went home to edit my resume.
Over the next few days I went about prepping for my interview and made sure I refreshed everything I’d learned about social media and search engine optimization thus far. As I prepared to fly up to interview with HuffPost, I held true to almost all of the advice that I’d been given. I found that I could follow it, but the one item that I struggled with the most was not being completely honest about my appearance. I lied about my body.
My appearance is something that I’ve always struggled with. My problems aren’t that visible to most, because I’ve always been quite tall and thin. But after looking at far too many magazines, I know that my shoulders and hips are bigger than normal, my skin is far from perfect, and my teeth aren’t even close to the blinding white that they should be. With the help of makeup and whiteners, I’ve been able to fix a few of my “flaws,” but I know that the biggest flaw of all is my own insecurity. During the interview process (as silly as it sounds), I was determined not to let how I felt about my body affect my job prospects.
A few days after my phone call with fate and countless emails later, it was the night before my first Huffington Post interview. I’d researched and prepared about as well as I thought I could prepare for the interview. I’d bought a new dress, and even invested in a massive jacket. but along with that new dress and new parka, I’d also bought brand new Spanx. Yes, Spanx that could hurt my internal organs and make sure that everything was super-mushed around in there. I was going to lie about my appearance.
I was very honest about everything in my interview- why I left my job, why I wanted to write, why working for HuffPost really was my dream job, but I still couldn’t be honest (with myself) about my muffin top. I’m very “up” on women’s issues- I was a Women’s Gender Studies minor and involved in a lot of issues around campaigns. I make sure to remind friends not to “slut-shame” other women on The Bachelor, and tell them to never compare themselves to the photo-shopped models in fashion ads. And yet here I was, a semi-accomplished young professional, and I was worried that my hips might appear “too large” in my new dress. I’d prepared for my interview beyond belief, but were slimming my hips really a part of my necessary preparation? No one was making me wear Spanx, but I still felt like I had to.
Two weeks and a fellowship offer later, I was welcomed to the Huffington Post team. For some reason, I felt oddly guilty. Would I go back and change the outfit that I wore and the undergarments that I bought? Absolutely not. Do I thinking wearing Spanx and showing up in a pretty dress were the reason I got the job? Absolutely not. I think it was my background and brains that prepared me for the four rounds of interviews and eventual fellowship offer.
So when people tell you to be honest in interviews- what does that mean? Should I have showed them my “real” body, which might have looked a bit lumpy, but also might have come off as unkept and disheveled? Would they have put that toward my work ethic? No one can tell for sure, but we’ll see if Huffington accepts my wide hips this week. I’m ready to be honest.