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Banker Fired For Being “Too Sexy”?

Banker Fired For Being “Too Sexy”?

Many women are familiar with the paradoxes of the expectations for their attire and demeanor in the workplace, and mostly, it seems to be a losing battle.  The criteria by which women are judged are highly objective, and it’s easy to find oneself trapped by the unspoken expectation to be attractive, but not too sexy.  One banker, Deborahlee Lorenzana, claims that she was fired as a result of this double bind, and is suing her former employer, Citibank, for dismissing her because of her body.

The details of Lorenzana’s treatment at work, as recounted by Elizabeth Dwoskin of the Village Voice, are disturbing.  Lorenzana (who has been described as “hot,” a “babe,” and, in Dwoskin’s words, “sizzling”), apparently suffered from near-constant attention to her body.  Managers made off-hand comments about her appearance, sending her mixed signals but more importantly, never allowing her to forget that her body was under scrutiny.  Dwoskin writes,

“She was told not to wear fitted business suits. She should wear makeup because she looked sickly without it. (She had purposefully stopped wearing makeup in hopes of attracting less attention.) Once, she recalls, she came in to work without having blow-dried her hair straight—it is naturally curly—and Fisher told a female colleague to pass on a message that she shouldn’t come into work without straightening it.”

As Anna North points out at Jezebel, Lorenzana’s response was less than generous: she claimed that other women at Citibank dressed more inappropriately, and that the negative response to her appearance was a reflection of her more attractive body.  But at the same time, Lorenzana’s claims are disturbing in the extreme, especially since she claims that she was fired after she protested.  Managers instructed her to buy a new, “looser-fitting” wardrobe, and criticized almost every aspect of her dress.  “I could have worn a paper bag, and it would not have mattered,” Lorenzana explained. “If it wasn’t my shirt, it was my pants. If it wasn’t my pants, it was my shoes. They picked on me every single day.”

Because of a part of Lorenzana’s contract, the suit will be decided by an arbitrator, not a judge.  And although we have access only to Lorenzana’s side of the story in Dwoskin’s article, it seems clear that these managers drew inappropriate attention to Lorenzana’s clothing and physical appearance, unprofessionally singling her out and perhaps eventually firing her because of the way she looked.  Let’s hope, though, that future articles about this case are less “distracted” by the way Lorenzana looks – even Dwoskin can’t seem to get over Lorenzana’s “hotness,” and the photos that accompany the Village Voice‘s piece, as Anna North points out, detract from the seriousness of this suit, and are, in the end, really kind of irrelevant.

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10:28AM PDT on Jun 16, 2010

This is horrible. Thanks for posting this. It is quite interesting.

2:02PM PDT on Jun 11, 2010

Why does society seem to put pressure on women with certain kinds of bodies to only follow career paths such as acting and modeling where their value will be based on their looks and then pressure other women who don't look like that to look the same way ? This attempt at "subtle" chauvenism is something to revile .

4:55PM PDT on Jun 9, 2010

Oh boy ....... !!!

12:46AM PDT on Jun 8, 2010

Were the managers sane?????

7:47PM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

Her lawyer is right - the guys at Citibank could not contain themselves .. so they took the easy route and got rid of the distraction. If someone finds out that Citibank men are masturbating in the restroom, will they remove the toilets next?

Email Deborahlee and tell her you support her:


7:46PM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

Her lawyer is right - the guys at Citibank could not contain themselves .. so they took the easy route and got rid of the distraction. If someone finds out that Citibank men are masturbating in the restroom, will they remove the toilets next?

Email Deborahlee and tell her you support her:


1:05AM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

The managers should be fired for spending too much time having lusty thoughts about her. Let's direct these questions to that.

I have a feeling she'll get acting and modeling offers after this because she is gorgeous. But it will be a true victory if she won this case and make it a case of equality for everyone.

1:01AM PDT on Jun 5, 2010

That just shows what sick bastards work in banks!!
What a shame that they think a beautiful woman is a threat

1:15PM PDT on Jun 4, 2010

Wow. I guess the two male managers couldn't think once the blood left their brains for their penises. I hope she takes them for millions. Why is it that women in the business world always get the sh***y end of the stick?

11:09AM PDT on Jun 4, 2010

I've seen the pictures, and yes, she is very beautiful! That being said, when I go to the bank, I just want to finish my transactions and leave. Any patron who commented on her looks was being impolite (even if they thought otherwise), and any co-worker who chastized her for her looks was probably just jealous!

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