Can a woman be so drop-dead gorgeous that she’s distracting to look at, even in a turtleneck? That’s what former Citibank employee Debrahlee Lorenzana thinks.
The 33-year-old single mother was recently, um, canned from Citi because – she says – her employers found her wardrobe to be unprofessional. She feels she was discriminated against for being too beautiful and is suing Citi for sexual harassment.
You know, Debrahlee, we have a lot in common. I’m also a 33-year-old single mother. In fact, I’m quite sure the only reason I’m not dating anyone right now is because I’m too hot. Men just can’t handle this. Friday night, I was hosting a show, and someone said, “You look hot tonight!” And I thought, “Does she mean sweaty?” Cuz I am that hot. HOT.
According to the Daily News, Lorenzana said higher-ups told her, “‘Oh, your pants are too tight. You cannot wear turtlenecks. You cannot wear pencil skirts because you draw too much attention.’” Now, I’m not trying to make light of what might be a serious situation, because I know how difficult it can be as a woman to conform to corporate dress, especially during the summer months. I temped at various Wall Street firms for years, and I once got in trouble for wearing well-tailored black capri pants that fell below the knee. It was one of those 98 degree days in New York and I got derided for wearing “shorts.” Meanwhile, my colleagues in their much shorter pencil skirts were considered appropriately dressed. (Another firm allowed me to wear jeans for months as an admin, until finally one of my favorite guys on the sales desk said, “You know, I don’t care if you wear jeans, but I think the other girls are getting jealous.”)
I’m just saying, Lorenzana makes it sound like she simply can’t control the ravages of her beauty and that no matter what she wore she was left feeling helpless. There are photos of her in various clingy outfits all over the Internet, and while I don’t think they’re at all unprofessional, it doesn’t seem like she went out of her way to minimize the “flounce,” as a friend of mine was once was chided for. Too much flounce in the workplace! Maybe she should have just come to work naked?
The level of machismo in banking culture varies from firm to firm, but come on, there are beautiful women all over Wall Street. There’s something about this story that just doesn’t smell right to me. The actual reason Citi gave for firing her is never once mentioned in any of the articles I’ve come across on the subject. I’m not saying she wasn’t made painfully aware of her good looks while at work, I’m just saying, something else had to have been up.
Lorenzana’s lawyer, Jack Tuckner, says her interactions with the media have landed her in trouble with her current employer, JP Morgan Chase, who “has threatened to fire her for violating the company’s code of conduct because of her comments.” Tuckner thinks Lorenzana is being used as a scapegoat to draw attention away from banking’s real dirty laundry.
“She’s making this industry look bad when we have Goldman Sachs selling exotic derivatives and cheating their clients behind their backs?” Tuckner told the Village Voice. “These are the ‘banksters’ of the world. Why they are so tone deaf is really unfathomable.”
In a fashion op-ed for the Daily News, Amy Diluna writes, “In curve-hugging styles that show off the bod she was blessed with, she channels Christina Hendricks’ Joan on Mad Men.” Maybe that’s the problem. In the Mad Men era, women were still openly sexualized and objectified in the workplace, and on Wall Street, not much has changed. It seems strange to me that in an industry still pretty rife with misogyny a woman would be shunned for being sexy. I’m surprised they didn’t make her Vice President of Internal Affairs.
Momlogic interviewed Lorenzana this weekend and asked what she hoped would come of all the media attention she’s getting surrounding her lawsuit. She says she hopes to “teach [Citibank] a lesson and basically help all those single mothers out there who have been harassed.” She continues, “Because you’re single and there’s only one family income, sometimes you have to put up with… harassment at work. And we just stay quiet because at the end of the day, we need to feed our children. Sometimes we overlook and let things pass that aren’t right, and I just want to tell the single moms to get up and stand up!”
Thank you, Debrahlee. I, for one, am going to stand up now, because my stomach looks much flatter that way.
Photo: Village Voice