Do looks matter?
One would think that in the middle of a global pandemic such as COVID-19 that has killed 13.3 million worldwide, protests over systemic racism and the growing mask vs. anti-mask culture war that looks would be the LAST thing that anyone would think about.
However, even now, they still do.
In the Age of Social Media, look no further than platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram where you see a multitude of very pretty and attractive models and influencers such as Kim Kardashian West, Kylie and Kendall Jenner promoting and selling a wide range of products ranging from CBD, lifestyle, fitness, tech and fashion.
Again, the pretty face is the hook that draws one in. Every time.
What about sports?
Look no further than sports networks such as NBC Sports, ESPN and FS1 where you will see the likes of Michelle Beadle, Molly Qerim-Rose, Charissa Thompson, Rebecca Lowe, Laura Rutledge, Dianna Russini, Jen Taft—my sports Woman Crush Wednesday, Jen Lada—Erin Andrews, Cari Champion, Mia and Maria Taylor being prominently featured as news anchors, sideline reporters and moderators in a lot of their programming.
Even in politics, look no further than new White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEany and First Lady Melania Trump.
Overall, the point is that not only do looks matter, but they are a stepping stone using a lot in the sports and entertainment industry. Is that sexist? Maybe.
Is it fact. Absolutely.
Let’s be honest. In an effort to be completely 100 here, the average self-quarantining Joe Schmo wouldn’t watch sports, movies or even care about what is happening down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if not for some of the very attractive—as well as highly educated and educated—women mentioned above.
It is a subject and topic that everyone openly knows is true, hates to admit to the validity of it, and yet often times, such women are shamed for their beauty and leveraging the wealth that they inherited in winning the genetic lottery.
One such person who is not shy about this and that women should have no shame in leveraging their God-given beauty is Los Angeles-based Bolivian-born former model, journalist, entrepreneur and author, Raquel Baldelomar.
Baldelomar, who has been featured in CNN, Forbes, Star Central Magazine, Latina, Huffington Post, Inc. and Entrepreneur, launched Quaintise, a marketing and branding agency for clients in the health, wellness and life sciences sectors that specializes in branding, packaging design, content development, marketing, social media, and public relations.
Recently, the forty-something dark-haired stunner recently started a new topic on looks titled, “How to Use Your Erotic Capital: The Right And Wrong Ways To Leverage Your Looks For Business Success” which has already generated a lot of discussion online about how looks are often used both for and against various individuals across all walks of life.
Below is my Q and A with Ms. Baldelomar as we discuss, sexism, looks, #MeToo, Sugar Crush, Instagram models, Quaintise and her upcoming new memoir, American Inca.
Who Is She?
Name: Raquel Baldelomar
Social Media Links: Instagram: @rbaldelomar
Publications/Media Featured in: CNN, Forbes, Star Central Magazine, Latina, Huffington Post, Inc., Entrepreneur
Raquel, greetings from Cleveland, OH and INSCMagazine! How are you doing?
Great, thank you! I’m very glad to be speaking with INSCMagazine.
How have you been holding up during this COVID-19 pandemic?
Quite well, considering how uncharted this territory is.
I was fortunate to have my writing to turn to—I had already started work on my memoir, American Inca, prior to lockdown, but once the world shut down, my work on the book really kicked into high gear.
With the world put on pause, I was able to dig deeper into my story, and reflect more deeply on the big events of my life—notably, how my mother and I fled Bolivia for the US when I was ten, because my father had become involved with the Bolivian cartel.
It’s a complicated, emotional story, but the peace and quiet of lock-down gave me the space to untangle many of its threads.
Thoughts on the current and growing Black Lives Matter and movement?
From a young age, I have observed white privilege in action—I am white, whereas my father, who is half Inca, half Mestizo, is brown-skinned.
As a child, I often noticed the slight difference between the way I was treated and the way my father was treated by white society, even though he was a very wealthy, powerful man.
It’s been profoundly moving to me, how conversations about racism and white privilege have taken center stage, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and the peaceful protestors who have taken to the streets to demand change.
The unity I’m seeing among people of all races and ethnicities is deeply inspiring to me, and I’m hopeful that we can achieve long-lasting change as a result of this unique moment in history.
On your discussion topic “How to Use Your Erotic Capital: The Right And Wrong Ways To Leverage Your Looks For Business Success” you mention that your looks have helped and hindered you. How is that so and why?
In a world where women consistently earn less than their male counterparts and have fewer opportunities to rise to the top, I always encouraged women to tip the scales back in their favor by skillfully using their erotic capital.
What does this mean?
The erotic is, to me, one of the most powerful energies that we have as human beings, yet we’re frightened of it. People judge it, slut-shame those who have it, and often this causes women to downplay their eroticism.
This, I think, results in the waste of one of humankind’s greatest natural resources. It’s bad for business, whichever way you look at it.
From a very young age, people always commented on my looks, and I remember feeling validated by that.
Later, I started to feel pressured by the compliments—the constant emphasis on my appearance suggested that beauty was the only way for me, as a girl, to be valued.
That subtext didn’t sit well—I didn’t want my looks to be the first thing that people saw. I wanted to lead with my intelligence, with substance.
When I entered the business world, I saw how my physical presentation opened doors for me—unfortunately, waiting on the other side of those doors, was sexual harassment, and the ever-present challenge of how to navigate the male ego in the workplace.
Like many professional women who happen to be feminine and possess a natural sensuality, I developed a strategy which allowed me to capitalize on my femininity, while never compromising my ethics nor my power.
It’s sometimes exhausting, being in charge of a resource like erotic capital. In an ideal world, feminine women wouldn’t have to navigate the world in this way; we wouldn’t walk into a meeting, read the room, and have to decide, “okay, how do I use my appearance so that it does not offend male ego, but makes it serve me”.
Unfortunately, we’re making those decisions almost every day, because our physical attributes are judged long before people hear a word we have to say.
So if we accept this to be our reality in 2020, the question is, how do we make it work for us, not against us? Because the truth is, we really can.
I do believe that we’re finally living in a world where a woman can be feminine, playful and fun in the workplace, while also being powerful and respected as a businesswoman.
Are looks everything? Yes or no?
If you’re walking into modeling casting, or if you’re in the beauty business, yes, of course. But don’t ever assume that looks alone will keep you fulfilled and successful as a human being across all levels—meaning physically, emotionally, spiritually.
If you’ve been blessed with great looks, congratulations, but try and check some more boxes so that you become a well-rounded person.
What are your thoughts on #MeToo and how did it affect and influence you in your writing, business and respective fields?
I think it was absolutely necessary to address issues of abuse of power, and make it okay for women to talk about the sexual abuse that often goes unreported.
#MeToo told me that women’s stories were being heard, and that society was facing up to some of its truths. Some of those ugly truths tie in to the idea of women’s erotic capital and how it interacts with the male ego, something I’ve seen numerous times in my career.
I have experienced sexual harassment many, many, many times in my life—it’s the reason I left JP Morgan—and I’m not alone, which is why #MeToo had such a profound effect on society.
The challenge now is to keep the conversation going and maintain the momentum, so that women can exists in the workplace without being harassed or mistreated, and be able to report their abusers without fear of being ostracized.
Do you feel that sexism persists to this day despite #MeToo? If not, how has it changed?
I wish that thousands of years of inequality between the genders could be wiped out overnight by a hashtag, but it’s going to take much more than that.
True equality, where a woman can enter the workplace and know that she will be treated exactly the same as her male counterpart, and be paid the same amount as a man who is just as capable as she is going to take many more years.
Sexism is still rife in corporate culture, tech, and entertainment—very recently, we all heard how “bro culture” persisted at Uber, for example.
So, if we want real equality, many things need to happen, and at least some of them have to start with men. Such as how they talk to one another. Men need to look at each other and say, “Hey bro, it’s really uncool when we talk about women like that, or objectify them.”
When powerful men truly commit to evolving beyond the dated “boy’s club” mentality, for the sake of their daughters and in the name of good business practice, then we will have come a long way.
What are your thoughts of Instagram models and modeling? Is it good or bad for women?
Instagram as a platform has revolutionized the way that we view ourselves and the way we view beauty. Before, an attractive girl from a small town in middle America might have had a minuscule chance of ever making a living as a model.
But thanks to Instagram and various other social media platforms, that small town girl can actually build a following and earn an enviable living.
In that sense, Instagram has been a remarkably positive force in the lives of a lot of people who know how to present themselves and take great pictures, every day.
My one complaint is this—and I’m not the first person to notice—but there’s a specific aesthetic associated with the classic Instagram model that is a little plastic.
It has forced me to reconsider what “beauty” means. Is beauty uniqueness? Is beauty about being natural?
Instagram has shown us that there are many different definitions of what beautiful is. But the generic “Insta” aesthetic to me, is not that beautiful—when someone has obviously used 45 filters before they post a picture, it looks pretty silly to me.
Best places and brands you’ve worked with (as a model or spokesperson)?
I adore cashmere, and one of my most favorite brands I’ve worked with as a spokesperson has been Il Borgo Cashmere (https://www.ilborgo.it/en/).
I met the founders when I was on a work trip in Italy, and loved the fact that I could be one of the first Americans to promote their brand to the US market. They’re true craftsmen.
I also love being able to partner with luxury hotel brands, because, as a writer, there’s nothing more inspiring than going to beautiful, exotic places to write.
I love the J.K. Place brand (http://www.jkplaces.com/it/), which has hotels in Florence, Rome, Capri, and Paris. Some of my best writing has been done in their lovely rooms.
What is the target demo of “Sugar Crush” and why should they read it?
Sugar Crush is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the negative effects of sugar, how it creates inflammation in our body, and how it is extremely addictive.
Anyone with a family history of diabetes and obesity (both of my grandparents had diabetes), for instance, needs to know this information.
But honestly, sugar is so ubiquitous I’d say anyone who cares about their health, and takes an interest in preventative care, should buy a copy.
Maybe your mom gave you sweet treats or sugary soda as reward for doing chores? Well, that’s how early our sugar conditioning begins. It’s hard to break.
But true health management starts before you develop chronic conditions and illnesses, so if you have a “sweet tooth”, know it’s a polite way of say you’re addicted to something that’s really very bad for you.
There are some who feel that looks are a cheap way to get ahead and tend to be catty and jealous of people who have them, what are your thoughts on that and how would you respond to them?
I think envy is very human, and we’ve all been there. Most of us have learned how to keep our jealousies hidden, but it’s still there. So I answer this question from the perspective that we all suffer from the “grass is greener” syndrome.
If you’re on the receiving end of jealous, catty remarks, try not to take them personally and create space between you and the people trying to criticize you for your gifts.
And if you’re one of those people judging someone based on their looks, take a look at the contents of their character, and if you still don’t like what you see, move on and stop wasting your time dumping negative energy into the ether.
It’s not a good look for you, and has the effect of highlighting something very ugly about you, rather than the person being attacked.
Personally, I enjoy beauty in things, people, and places, and the benefits that it brings—I say this as someone who has been called beautiful, and who also knows many beautiful people, inside and out. Beauty is a lot of fun to be around!
How do you deal with jealous trolls on social media who try to slut-shame you for your looks, etc?
I always remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Trolls are usually people who feel bad about themselves, and are trying to make you feel bad with them.
This is another reason why self-confidence is so important—if you have a strong sense of your inner beauty and self-worth, when someone does try to slut-shame you for your looks, it’s not going to affect you as much.
Of course, there’s a line—abuse is not tolerated on my pages, and abusive people will be blocked. But if the comments are coming from someone who is following me and is invested in me, then I’m going to pay attention to what they have to say, and maybe even engage in a conversation, so we can reach a place of better understanding.
As an entrepreneur, what are your thoughts on the rise of more female writers and a new age of #MeToo-inspired feminism?
As a female writer, I’m delighted to see greater emphasis on female voices in general. I’m inspired every time I see another powerful, feminine CEO or writer achieve recognition for her work.
Women like Cindy Eckert, for instance, who created the “pink pill”, a type of female Viagra. She’s a writer, a public speaker, a CEO and she’s super feminine, playful, fun and powerful.
She’s become a billionaire by embracing her femininity and erotic capital.
I hope to see more women like Cindy leverage their sensuality to turn it into power and money in business.
As you’ve probably noticed, I particularly identify with conversations surrounding femininity, but the fact of the matter is, male authors still outsell female authors.
And it’s really nothing to do with the quality of the work—it’s to do with where we’re at in society. That’s where #MeToo, amongst many hashtags, continues to help women build their own communities and support.
We can’t rely on #MeToo to magically open doors for us, because there are still a lot of doors that are closed to women—so find your community, find your confidence, and help your fellow women, especially women of color, and feminine women (my favorite community). Together, we’ll get to where we want to be.
Describe your marketing and branding agency, who it is for and what does it do, etc?
We do branding, packaging design, content development, marketing, social media, and PR for some huge healthcare brands, and as founder and CEO, I am so proud of how we’ve grown and developed an industry-wide reputation for excellence.
Any final thoughts for those who wish to get into the industry?
Think about your “personal packaging”—meaning, how you present yourself to the world.
For a man or a woman, yes, your looks matter, how you package yourself matters, how you present yourself matters—then remember that as well as the style, you better also have the substance.
Your substance is based on how knowledgeable you are, what new tools you’re good at, how deft is your ability to adapt to a changing world.
If you have a command of both substance and style, you’re going to do really, really well.
One other thing that is extremely valuable is authenticity. Be your true self and weaponize that. What are your unique skills? What is your background? What is your story? Who are you?
Know who you are, and always bring that to the table. I often say life consists not in holding good cards, but playing those you hold well.
What are the cards you’re holding? What are the areas you have a natural talent in?
Bet on those cards, double down on them, give it all you have. Then all you have to do is play well and have fun along the way.
INSCMagazine extends a special thank you to Ms. Raquel Baldelomar and Brittany Scott from Garis Media & Talent Group™ for their time and assistance during this interview.