Wear Your Favorite Footwear and Kick Doubt to the Curb

Can a woman wearing flats find success at work?

My cheeky answer is “I sure hope so, because I’m not putting my 5’2″ self in heels.” Life offers enough stress on its own. I don’t need to invite more in by undermining my own confidence worrying about my footwear.

Another not-so-secret: I don’t wear makeup.

The deeper question is: Why does that matter? Truthfully, I don’t refuse to wear makeup as part of my micro-rebellion against patriarchy (although I do encourage those). I grew up in a makeup culture, and I dabbled with it in my youth, but it never became part of my external-facing persona. I feel more self-conscious with it than I do without it, so I choose not to use it.

I recognize that wearing flats and not wearing making makeup affect how others perceive me, and this has the potential to make it harder to succeed at work. It may even mean that I have to work extra hard in other areas to compensate. Does that amount to an unfair double standard? Probably. Any time you can substitute the word “man” for “woman” and have the sentence sound ridiculous, you are dealing with a double standard (“Can a man wearing flats find success at work?”).

Some women wear heels and makeup because it makes them feel confident—and that is great. When we project confidence, we project competence. Stay focused on the confidence gap.

Know what you have to offer, and when you have doubt, critically examine its source. Sometimes doubt is an important indicator subconsciously telling us we overlooked something important. Sometimes it’s the insidious nature of cultural gender norms telling us we are violating the unwritten rules. Use whatever footwear you like to kick that doubt to the curb.