Adulting as a babyfaced female in the workforce is not easy
“You look so young for your age!” or “When did you graduate?” is a common phrase that I’ve had to deal with from high school to now as an adult with almost ten years of working experience under my belt. As early as elementary school, although many of my friends also struggled with trying to look older while experimenting with makeup and clothes, my struggle always seemed to be far greater than theirs due to my small size and my Asian baby face. However, for the most part, I treated my Asian baby face as a blessing as I figured that while the rest of my non-Asian peers may age quicker, I could still bask in the elixir of youth bestowed on me by “Asian genes” a while longer.
Yet, there are still times I wished I could look my age. I am entering a stage in my career where I have enough work experience to move up the ranks to management level, but there have been times where I’ve been passed over for jobs with the feedback that “you have the skills, you just need a few more years under your belt.” What? Seriously? How many years more do I have to add to prove that I can do a job??
Years of being pinned as a pushover/meek or being called “sweetie or honey” on the job because of my youthful appearance has created a tendency for me to always dress in darker colours or “grandma-looking clothes”, as my friends would like to say. I also never wear flats to work, for fear of being half the height of my co-workers, although to be honest, even with my heels, I am just standing barely at average height of many other women.
I don’t know yet how to overcome this obstacle or “break through the bamboo ceiling”, so I reached out to a few friends of Cold Tea Collective to get their advice on my Asian Babyface situation:
Tips from an HR Professional
Baby faced or not, be SO good they cannot ignore you!
- Be prepared to speak about challenges, where you failed and the lessons learned — shows you have taken time to reflect, a characteristic found in mature candidates.
- Communicate strategically — if you want to be a leader or take the next step in your career, you will need to be able to navigate the politics in any organization. Show you are capable by asking smart questions and actively listening before responding.
- Find people in your network to be your Champion — humble bragging is great but if you know someone in the company, get them to put in a good word. Internal references go a long way.
- Show up armed with examples of passion projects you have lead and make sure you know them inside out — nothing more attractive than someone who shows up prepared.
- As always, dress the part. Want to be a boss? Dress like a boss!
Fashion Tips to Combat Asian Baby Face in the Workplace
Asian Baby Face is a common hurdle that many of Asian descent experience in light of being taken seriously and to overcome the ‘age=experience’ barrier. Although wardrobe plays a big part in tackling the first impression portion of it, the clothing should enhance who you are, and not the other way around. Use clothing as an outward expression but it has to be complemented with confidence, charisma and body language when networking.
1. Choose colours wisely depending on situation
Depending on the event, choice of colour can help with making you stand out and be noticed or taken more seriously. Reds are powerful colours of dominance , and can help you stand out and activates a portion of the mind that enhances confidence. Blues are a calmer, more trusting colour and create a soothing feel and ease of conversation.
For more professional events or interviews, black and whites are the norm for workplace attire.
2. Always dress one step up than the event
I personally believe that for whatever event, it is always a rule of thumb that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
3. Comfort and style can go together
A common myth is that being fashionable means neglecting comfort.
Be sure to find pieces that make you feel good about yourself but also fit your body type. Remember that you should wear the clothing, and not the other way around. When you’re confident and feel good about what you put on, that inadvertently also gives you that confidence boost you need to present yourself verbally too.
Have you experienced issues with your Asian Baby Face and overcome them? Head over to our Instagram and let us know what you’ve done in the comments!
Making Asian American media
We believe that our stories matter – and we hope you do too. Support us with a monthly contribution to help ensure stories for us and by us are here to stay.