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He told me he had no idea what a sophisticated level of intelligence I had, because well, I’m an artist.  This was said to me by a boss the other day at work after I unveiled my sophisticated intelligence with my knowledge of demographics and geography.  I want to stress that he wasn’t being passive aggressive and it was genuinely meant as a compliment, but it got me thinking about the perception of “artists.”

I have a very corporate, 9 to 5 day job that I’ve been at for a year and a half now.  It has moments where I’m able to use my skills in graphic design, film production and writing, but most of the time I am doing things like preparing demographic reports and media kits.

But the funny thing about being in this corporate environment day after day is the fact that I’m labeled as “The Artist” and in all truth I think it’s simply because I wear a lot of color in my wardrobe.  The aforementioned boss even said as much as that, noting that I dress very young and while he knew I was artistic and certainly very capable, he didn’t realize my understanding of business operations was so thorough.  So in a way, by wearing vintage floral dresses to work, occasionally having bows or flowers in my hair, and rocking a brightly-colored pair of tights, I have diminished the perception of my intelligence.  And that annoys me.

Everyone at my work does know that I dance, that I dabble in crafts and that I am an avid blogger, so it’s not like I’m hiding the fact that I am into the arts.  I stick to the dress code of the office and never wear things that are inappropriate, but I’m not one to wear a suit.  I do on days when there’s a need, but that’s just not me.  I mostly wear dresses and do often use my wardrobe to express what I am feeling at that moment.  If I was in an artistic environment, my choice of wardrobe would probably be appreciated, even taken as a sign of intelligence rather than a hindrance.  But in this corporate setting, I suppose I just don’t fit in, and my co-workers don’t know how to categorize me.  Why do they even have to?  Because that’s how they are, everything has to fit into a box.  And I have to break out of boxes, it’s just my nature.

Anyway this whole episode got me thinking about how being seen as artistic can come with a stigma of being dreamy, whimsical, scatter-brained, not serious, and well, stupid.  Most ballet dancers I’ve met are quite the opposite of all those things.  Yes we are artistic, maybe dreamy and whimsical, but we’re also focused, perceptive, analytical, thoughtful, industrious…I could go on and on.  But I want to know what you think.

Have you ever been misjudged as less intelligent because of your artistry?

Written by Heather Toner

Heather Toner

Heather danced with the Mandalone Company, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Austin and the California Contemporary Ballet before hanging up her pointe shoes to explore other ventures where eating was more encouraged and her hair need not be in a bun. She has an english degree from UCLA, and is the manager of social media and promotions for The Music Center; Los Angeles’ premier center for the performing arts. When not blogging, tweeting and instagramming about her passion for the arts, Heather enjoys making short films, all kinds of crafting and discovering new artists in the City of Angels.