Dear Mr CEO,
It’s been years since you first replied to Miss Pretty, but your article is still circulating on social networks. This attention is warranted, of course: You made an honest analysis of her situation, of wanting a rich man for nothing more than her physical beauty.
You are clearly right that a woman’s beauty will depreciate in proportion to your income increase, should your career trajectory remain uninterrupted. Beauty, as it is currently defined in today’s world, is inextricably tied to youth. This is no secret; it’s why we have a multi-billion dollar advertising industry that insists on dressing up underage girls to look like they’re women. And we all know that metabolism slows down with age. Since skinny is pretty, most women will struggle to remain skinny — and therefore beautiful — as time and nature take their course. So we agree that a woman’s beauty is a depreciating asset, and one you will never experience.
However, despite the very important, if not slightly condescending, message you gave to Miss Pretty, you failed to answer her very specific questions. I believe that, even if you are right that her beauty is a “depreciation asset,” her concerns merit a more thorough reply. Your dismissal of her earnest questions is a familiar way that women get silenced.
And the overwhelming public support for your reply to Miss Pretty reflects our double standards. When you admitted that men like you would only date, but not marry, women like Miss Pretty, you are reinforcing the idea that it’s ok for men to date women for their looks, but not ok for women to date men for their money.
I also wanted to clarify what you meant when you said that “anyone with over $500k annual income is not a fool.” People born into rich families easily get jobs that give them that kind of income, and yet they do so, not by merit, but through their connections. There are clearly fools out there with $500k annual incomes. Perhaps I’m being pedantic, but then again, I am addressing a JP Morgan CEO, and I thought that you’d know better than to make hasty generalizations.
I want to applaud your suggestion that she “could make [herself] become a rich person with $500k annual income.” This is indeed a possibility, but in practice, we both know that this is very, very difficult. In fact, Miss Pretty demonstrates some level of practical intelligence in thinking that the best way for her to live in a fancy New York apartment is to find a rich husband.
Out of the 1000 Fortune companies out there, there are only 43 female CEOs. Do you know that a resume with a male name gets significantly more callbacks that the exact same resume with a woman’s name? Even if you don’t want to acknowledge it, there are still huge challenges to women in business, which prevent us from ascending the corporate ladder in the way you do — particularly if we don’t start out rich. With people like you on top of such ladders, this should come as no surprise to anyone.
I think that you owe Miss Pretty an apology, and that you should truly attempt to answer her questions. But who am I to tell a big shot like you what to do? After all, I’m just some penniless pretty girl, getting less pretty every day.
Miss Smart and Pretty