I am a moderately good looking woman. With basic makeup and hair styling, I can make myself look pretty. This is my preferred look when I go out.


Meeting new people or acquaintances and having formal/casual conversations.

Scenario : Workplace discussions or casual conversations with people who already know that I dress up well. They dot know if I ever tone down.

Few people assume that I know certain things or topics; could range anything from cooking to finance to politics. When I tell them that I have no idea about it, they usually mock me by saying, "Oh!!! I thought you were an exceptional person with knowledge in that area'. This is rather a polite way, but some people use rather rude, blunt and impolite statements. This is hurtful.

It could even be the reverse. If I approach someone with a query related to my work or any topic that they are experts in (cooking, politics) etc, a few of them retort saying that, 'This is simple. I thought you knew it.' or 'Someone like you should know it' and make fun of me.

Or, it could even be about my personal preferences. One time, an incident occurred in the office and I backed out for reasons known to me. A few colleagues commented 'We expected so much from you' and started laughing hilariously. Though it was not a cowardice act but rather a general human tendency, they projected to me that I am a coward myself and made fun of me.

Scenario : Casual conversations with people who already know that this tone downed dressing is the only me. This happened a mere 2-3 times in my entire life.

In case, I tone down my appearance, such conversations never occur. I get sympathy or sometimes even advice about how to deal with it. But, I prefer my way of dressing and do not intend to tone down anytime in the future. In this case, they are different set of people.

I wondered why should I be a know-it-all and if it not okay to not know everything or anything in this world. After a little thinking, I assumed that probably my kempt persona could be the reason people assume that I have idea about most of the topics, or it could be to prove that I am dumb or it could be to prove that their own assumption about me was wrong. Irrespective of their intentions, those statements do bother me.


I want to ensure that I do not really get bothered about such statements and I wondered if I could say something in return to them which would make them feel that they were rude or make them realize that I do not have to be a know-it-all.

Something akin to:

I am sorry to have disappointed you. I wish I knew more about it.

I am lost for other kinds of such one or two liners which would make them think twice before making such statements. Can you please guide me with this?

Adding a few links to testify what I am saying. A little google search helped me with these.

Attractive Women Are Perceived As More Intelligent Quoting from https://bigthink.com/elise-bohan/women-have-a-biological-advantage-on-dating-apps

Studies have found that the clothes we wear shape others' perceptions of our capability. https://www.businessinsider.in/12-science-backed-tricks-for-appearing-smarter-than-you-are/Smile-/slideshow/50594755.cms

Attractive people are also seen as more intelligent https://www.wired.co.uk/article/prettier-people-more-intelligent

  • 4
    Is there any chance you could be more specific? I don't get it tbo. Do they assume you know a lot about fashion or makeup? You already stated with an example, the thing where they started laughing, but I think you ignored the most important part: The beginning, the reason they started laughing, the thing that you didn't know. Without that information, well, it's pretty hard to come up with the right response. One of the reasons I'm asking is because I remember a similar question where the OP just didn't get sarcasm. (btw, please note that I make no statement about this being on-topic or not)
    – Raditz_35
    Aug 9, 2018 at 12:52
  • 3
    What line of work is it? The dress attire being the source of knowledge doesn’t make general sense so I’m thinking it would have to be the work are. General scorn might be related to you looking better than others, but that doesn’t quite fit with the know it all scorn you are talking about. Also, are you sure it is your dress attire and not your communication methods?
    – mutt
    Aug 9, 2018 at 13:18
  • 4
    This is not a common issue I believe, so be super clear in your question. Here is my recommendation concerning your question: Try to be more structured because right now it's extremely confusing. State your issue clearly. If you have an example, please directly address your issue in them, e.g. explain how your makeup was relevant there. At the end, ask a clear question. That's the most confusing part. You wish that you could make them aware that they hurt you, but your proposed example reply is just an apology. Perhaps find an example that underlines your intention and doesn't contradict it.
    – Raditz_35
    Aug 9, 2018 at 13:24
  • 3
    Are you 100% sure this is only influenced by your looks? I know I get more confident and behave differently when I´m all dressed up.
    – user6109
    Aug 9, 2018 at 13:54
  • 2
    @Replica I'm with the others. I can understand what you say is happening, but I can't understand why it is happening. What does your appearance have to do with (for example) knowing how to cook? Do you also expect that people who dress nicely know how to cook? Or is this just a strange and unexpected behavior among your coworkers?
    – Andrew
    Aug 9, 2018 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


Even after reading your story and all of your comments, it's difficult to understand why someone would act in this way. It's not clear what your appearance -- dressing up or down -- has to do with your perceived knowledge of cooking or politics.

The only thing that makes sense is to assume that person is envious of your appearance and wants to belittle you, in order to make themselves feel superior. Although you might think this behavior childish, unfortunately, it's fairly common, and can be difficult to avoid.

Although it may not seem like it, it's actually a kind of compliment. The person casting aspersions wouldn't do so if they didn't think you have unusually good style. They'd just leave you alone and not consider you a threat.

So first, take it as a kind of weird compliment. That should keep it from bothering you as much. Feel free to assume literally meaning, and ignore any nasty subtext.

Here are some examples of responses you can use in either situation:

How nice of you to think that, but actually I don't know anything about it.

Why makes you think that? Of course, I'd love to be an expert on it, but I don't think I know any more than you do.

Really? Well, I know a little bit about (subject) but I haven't really spent much time studying it.

In the specific case where you go to someone for their advice, and they respond to the effect of, "Someone like you should know that!"

I'm flattered you think that way, but I'm completely lost. That's why I came to you, because you seem to by the expert here

Side note: One reason people are nasty to those they are envious of, is because they assume that you are first going to be nasty to them, possibly because you look better. It's what I call a self-creating belief system, because naturally many people will respond to nastiness with nastiness.

Again, this is a kind of schoolyard behavior some people never outgrow -- but you can sometimes break the cycle by always being nice, and sincerely compliment the other person. It doesn't always work (or it might take a long time to work) but it can often make you feel better, to know that you are trying to create harmony among your coworkers, rather than sow additional discord.


With the current information the only answer I would have is this:

Be honest and tell them the comments hurt and that they only seem to happen when you are dressed like this. Do they have an issue with the way you dress?

At this point you only have your interpretation and I assume you are trying to get a non biased interpretation from here, but we don’t know the people and haven’t witnessed the interactions.

Step 1 be honest about the way they make you feel and request them to stop treating you like that.

Step 2 escalate to management if they persist after being asked nicely

Step 3 if management can’t or won’t help talk to HR about it

Step 4 if HR can’t or won’t help you will either have to cope with it or find another job

P.S. It’s always good to let them know how you wish the interactions and relationship would go. This shows them how you wish to be treated and also how much you value the relationship.

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