Last week, I was talking on the phone to my older brother. During these calls, which occur three or four times a week, one of us practices psychology without a license. I won’t say which of us that might be. Suffice that the conversation turned first to our second cousin, an accomplished attorney, and our niece, a junior at Temple. Both sweet caring young women. Smart, nurturing, compassionate, and stunning to look at. My brother remarks that he had once counseled our cousin that she should go into journalism because of her looks; likewise for our niece.
As an aside, neither of these ladies is pursuing that endeavor. No offense to journalists or the field of journalism. And, I honestly think my brother thought he was paying both women a compliment. But I found the thought process off putting. Was I insulted that he never suggested I try my hand at the nightly news? That he doesn’t think I am pretty? Certainly he thinks I am smart. I hear the “you’re a lawyer” all the time. I get that pride thing. Well, sort of. But you never have men viewed so much for their appearance as often or as mercilessly as women. And not just in a public arena like television, but every day. Why should girls have to feel as though they need to play the appearance card? How about the smart card? (Or didn’t we learn anything from the 2008 election?)
I will take it as a sign of wisdom and maturity that the greatest compliment a colleague (male or female) can pay me is that I am insightful and competent. And I tell this to my nieces, the college junior, her cousin the college senior, and her sister in Chicago, that smart never goes out of style.