Embracing Beauty And Brains?

The Caribbean has MANY beautiful bright women. Question is, are we ready to have them succeed for both being gorgeous and being great at what they do professionally? Or are we much more comfortable with our board room bombshells being what many are everyday – conservative in what they say, do and wear?

Case in point. May/June 2010 has so far featured 2 major career highlights for me. 1. Communication World Magazine has

Showcasing Beauty and Brains - Is it too much for us to handle? Nah!

printed an article I wrote on text messaging as an organizational tool (international article publication officially checked off my life long “to do” list. #2 I’m on my 3rd magazine cover (Abstract Magazine) and in the interview once again dodged relationship questions and  personal probes (HA!).  Is being on a magazine cover in a short skirt and featured as a communication nerd too much for some to handle? I say no.

Both are honours. Both are part of who I am. Both put a positive stamp in the Traditional media world. Both help brand women in the Caribbean positively. Question is, while we LOVE to tout beauty and brains in the Caribbean, are we really ready to embrace someone who showcases both concepts?

In my case, I have the pageant background before I became a recognized communications professional so the public tolerates the occasional pic of me in a swimsuit in the newspaper (as ALSO happened this month on the day I was presenting a course on social media management – some students came to class WITH the photo!) or an internet photo (read over 300 photos) of me at parties, events and yes, from fashion shows. But what of the others? You know, the thousands of beautiful, young women being educated across the Caribbean. Are their dreams of being models to be dashed against the rocks of a less than modern mindset?

Can Beauty & Brains be accepted? Ah I hope so!I

Not if Wendy, myself and a few others have anything to do with it. Examples:

Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998 raised the bar (LITERALLY) by being a lawyer, successful business woman, runway model, print model and this year SCORTCH MAGAZINE centerfold clad in a flower covered bikini in a bed of roses. She looked awesome and the next day I am sure she was

Wendy Is Still a Professional AND she's STILL Hot!

back in the board room. Certainly the less modern among us (or just the damn haters) made a snide comment.

Anya Ayoung Chee, also a past Miss Trinidad and Tobago, has parlayed that fame into a damn hot and fairly successful fashion line. Anya is more than just creative – she’s smart and the cut of her clothes superior to many aspiring designers far beyond the shores of the Caribbean.

Sharon Impbert, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (a VERY senior position) has for over two decades graced the catwalks of the Caribbean.

Now begs the question – are you supporting the concept that beauty and brains can both be showcased or do you think we’re still too conservative? In the USA, it is FAR from uncommon to see PLAYBOY PLAYMATES become lawyers (Kimba Wood is now FEDERAL JUDGE WOOD for example), authors (Gloria Steinem feminist writer),doctors and yes, models and actresses. I’m not saying in the Caribbean we are there yet but I’m not certain in this day of rogue amateur photographers and videographers poised to catch any “less than publicly beautiful” moment on the camera, many among us realize the day has come where a photo, posed or candid, can help a professional career as much as winning an award or being published in a scholarly journal.

So weigh in folks. Are we in the Caribbean, island nations with at least 2 women that have been heads of Government, ready to embrace the beauty AND brains? Or should we models just realize the glass ceiling is lower for us?



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9 Responses to “Embracing Beauty And Brains?”

  1. Trini_mitz Says:

    A woman should be free to exploit all aspects of her personality and embrace self-expression in the ways in which she is comfortable. The question of combining beauty & brains is not the exclusive territory of women howver, we often judge intelligence by appearance (wrongly) in both genders. Interestingly, a very plain or comley woman or man is probably as often labelled as unintelligent as their extremely beautiful counterpart and more likely to be excluded from some opportunities, since “they don’t even have the looks”. A good read as usual, I would suggest the important take away would be professional excellence is what we should all strive for reagrdless of the “beauty” factor.

  2. Mark Lyndersay Says:

    I’m kind of in two minds about this and I’m willing to acknowledge that at least part of it is my own male reaction to a beautiful woman showing a generous curve of leg in a colour photograph.
    I suspect that my own second thoughts come because I’ve met the subject and think of her as something other than an attractive model and my world view is being jerked back to the obvious.
    It’s kind of like talking to a woman and looking her in the eye, engrossed in the conversation and then being heckled about not noticing her ample bustline.
    Part of me thinks that if it were a professional guy, say a dentist on that cover, showing off his rippling abs, that I wouldn’t think about it at all if I met him in person. I might not even make the connection between the two spheres of endeavour, and that’s quite likely given my absolute terror of dentists.
    Had I never met the model before, would I be able to have a chat without thinking about the legs and partly open blouse? I think I can, because I think about people visually all the time and it becomes a kind of abstract process for me to think about different clothing treatments, but would that be true of the average horny guy? And would the average horny gal want that dentist to open up his shirt?
    I think it all comes down to the person and their idea of how the world works. I’ve known Sharon Imbert for three decades, correspond occasionally with her husband and still get tongue tied when I meet her in full, glorious flight, unhindered by those buttoned down suits she wears at the Ministry.
    Does that reaction lessen my respect for Sharon as a woman I’ve photographed as both model and as professional?
    This is a litany of questions because I think I have a fairly refined mind capable of balancing complex thoughts simultaneously and it still confuses me to juggle professional woman/hot model babe. It must be hell on simpler more linear minds.
    Does that mean that women shouldn’t challenge and expand these preconceptions and recast their role and the scope in which they can be respectfully considered (another question)? Of course not (finally, an answer).
    But it does mean acknowledging that it is, perhaps unfairly, still an uphill battle against easy preconceptions and raging testosterone.

  3. caribbeancontessa Says:

    Agreed Mark – albeit with chuckles. The battle is uphill but not just for women. I have the pleasure of knowing a male professional who shared the fact he is often mistaken as a “beef head” bc he works out. I guess women are just as guilty then. 🙂 Either way, the ceilings must be cracked by those like Sharon and I’m happy to be part of that.

  4. sinistra Says:

    This post assumes that potential female leaders are, as a matter of course, bright, beautiful and comfortable being sexual objects. What about potential female leaders who wear headscarves instead of cleavage-revealing shirts? What about potential female leaders who would never be considered ‘model material’ but who could outwit any male or female peer? What about women perceived as employee-of-the-month material because they are attractive, but who aren’t actually all that bright? It’s not as cut and dry as you make it.

    • caribbeancontessa Says:

      This is a different topic to the one raised but no less valid. Indeed those of both sexes may be overlooked due to lack of what society deems as traditionally attractive (I believe definitions of beauty are far too westernized for many). I did not speak about potential leaders but indeed all women regardless of style of dress have potential to be leaders. Confidence is important. What you wear (or choose not to) is much less so in my view. Thank you for your comment and potential future topic!

  5. Calvin Says:

    My upbringing may have biased me but in my life I’ve always been exposed to the reality /my reality; where brains has ALWAYS been a concommitant of beauty.From my great grandmothers, grandmothers, mother, aunts sisters and cousins I’ve been surrounded by beautiful bright women. My mother worked with Mrs Imbert and I must say Sharon is glorious but I never found myself exclaiming “Beautiful …and Bright too?” because that was what I’d found to be the common factor, the expected mode. This was and is my female genetic imperative…beauty goes with brains. I’ve heard some unjustly as far as I was concerned indicate that this beauty made them the receipients of more help and attention and less opposition from teachers etc. If that was the case then to God be the Glory.My upbringing really spoiled me.All I’m going to say is that quite honestly I found myself going through what can best be described as “culture shock” if I ever encountered a beautiful woman who wasn’t intelligent, resulting in a feeling of depression and disappointment.
    I would therefore from my vantage point disgree with the author’s premise that the Caribbean is behind the US in embracing beauty and brains. What we may be behind in, is our beautiful brainy women fully embracing their femininity and looking feminine whilst being professional. Much of the blame I suppose has to be foisted upon our fashion industry which has simply and I say erroneously adopted a female form to the male suit with all its apparent starchness; although Holliwood has given us the peeking garter to “ensense” the look. Beauty and brains is a Caribbean thing; its an impossibilty not to find a high percentage of beautiful brainy women in a pocket of the world which has the greatest percentage of BWPSF….Beautiful Women Per Square Feet.

  6. sinistra Says:

    I think of professional, successful women as leaders. Just my $0.02.

  7. Natalia Says:

    I think the trick is to exploit all your attributes in a way that is neither obvious nor oppressive to others 🙂 In the same way that nobody likes to invite someone who is obnoxious and overbearing to the party, nobody willingly respects a person who uses sex to get to the top. But, there is no crime in embracing your sexy side in the right forum at the right time as long as it is done tastefully 🙂 I really don’t think that can hinder any woman’s rise to the top, it actually only makes their journey shorter.

    I have to say you have handled this post with poise and style and it says a lot about your own attributes. 🙂 Touche!

  8. Kevin Says:

    When you look at it, somehow in Trinidad we seem to have more than our fair share of very beautiful women, and unfortunately, it is still the case that the prevailing view is that the pretty women are either not intelligent, or use their looks to get positions, jobs, and other benefits of which they are not deserving.

    This of course in an entirely unfair criticism, from my personal experience, most women who are in high positions, or professional women (doctors, lawyers, etc) are extremely intelligent, competent and worthy of what ever they have achieved. However, many times they are derided not only by men, but sadly other women.

    The result of this however is that I have found that many of these women have become super aggressive, as if trying to prove their worthiness in the professional sphere, it is as if they are always trying to prove to themselves and others that they do in fact deserve what they have gotten and they are as good as they think they are. This is unfortunate as it may affect how they interact with other people, which may just go towards enforcing a negative view of them.

    At the other extreme, I have also seen young women, who have been taken in by the whole “beauty and brains don’t go together”, to the extent that they start doubting themselves and have serious insecurity issues. And these are not just women who are STUNNING to look at, but who are also extremely intelligent. They are prevented from achieving all they can because they have accepted society’s view that they are pretty, so they can’t be good for anything more than posing for pictures, clearly they can’t be intelligent and further, if they achieve anything, it is not because they actually deserve it. The consequences of such thinking is obviously very very negative.

    Of course nothing is wrong with doing modelling or any other hobby/side job apart from your regular “8-4”, and certainly Wendy and yourself are great examples of that! To me, it is no different if i decided that apart from my regular job, I was to take advantage of my cooking skills and do catering on the side, either for gain or not… it is a skill that I have of which I am making use. There may be restrictions placed by your regular job, but that is a totally different matter.

    Now having said all of this, I have to say that I am not an expert and I am just talking from my personal experience, dealing with the women I know, so I may be completely wrong about this!

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