“You’re too pretty to be a doctor”
“You’re too young to be a doctor”
“My cousin/daughter is a nurse too!”
I hear these sexist and ageist remarks daily and know that I am not alone and that many of my colleagues have had similar experiences throughout their medical training. Every time I get into an uber wearing scrubs I’m asked “How do you like being a nurse?” It’s just assumed that a young female is not a doctor. (Side note: I mean no offense at ALL to nurses who are smart, capable members of the healthcare team. I couldn’t do what you do and could not get through my day without you. My point is to emphasize that many young females in medicine are assumed to be in nursing). Being a young female in medicine is TOUGH and I’ve had to work extra hard to prove myself as an intelligent, capable provider.
After being told countless times by supervisors to “tone down my looks” “make yourself look less attractive” and “stand out less” I became discouraged. In med school I used to tie my hair up in a bun and wear baggy clothes to hide my appearance in an attempt to blend in. It was terrible and I found myself feeling less confident, less energetic and not like myself at all.
I’ve finally gotten to the point where I am unapologetically myself. It has taken all of medical school and nearly all of residency to get here but here I am. My mother taught me that my outward appearance is a reflection of myself and how I present myself to the world. So yes, I like to paint my nails and do my hair and dress up. That’s ME. It’s taken a long time but I’m finally able to be myself at work. A capable, intelligent, pretty young doctor.