Two summers ago when I was in college, I got a job as a hostess to save money for a study abroad program I wanted to do the following summer. The hostess job was at a popular hotel downtown and image was an important factor in the job. I always had to wear makeup and heels and be friendly to everyone- one night I didn’t wear makeup and at the end of the night I was taken aside for it. The general manager, Eric, asked why I wasn’t wearing makeup and said that I need to wear makeup next time I come to work. I was very uncomfortable by his superficial request, and in order to regain some kind of dignity- I lied to him and said that I had an eye infection and that’s why I wasn’t wearing eye makeup. The real reason I didn’t have makeup on is because I was at the library all day working on a project, and I didn’t have enough time to paint my face. This wasn’t relevant to my hostess job though, and I didn’t want them to think I prioritized my education over my job, because then they might fire me (haha).
Two weeks had passed since they called me out for not wearing makeup- and everything seemed fine since I was putting more time and effort into my appearance. I would have rather spent the time studying, but I knew how badly I wanted to go abroad, and I wanted to meet their expectations. On Saturday night I went to work and wore a fitted black blouse and a skirt, I had been working there for 3 weeks at this point. One of the junior managers came up to me and said “Wow, I didn’t know you had such big tits” – I was very shocked he said this to me. I responded to him and said, “Wow, I didn’t know sexual harassment was legal.” After my comment, he took a few steps back and turned bright red. I have never been in a work environment where it’s okay to speak to women like that, and I wanted to nix that behavior in the beginning and make it clear that I know my rights and NO ONE can speak to me like that. He never bothered me again after that night, but I was bothered by the idea that other men may think they can objective women in the hospitality industry. I quit the job two months later, primarily because they weren’t going to let me take the week off for finals, and also because I was tired of always having to be on guard at work. My short time at the hotel taught me how important it is to assert myself when someone says something out of line, and that sexual harassment isn’t embarrassing for me- it’s embarrassing (HUMILATING) for the person that risks losing their job because they can’t behave like an adult around women.