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Does appearance play a role in the success of women in the workplace?

YORK, Pa. — Does the outfit make the woman or is appearance secondary? Some professionals say their success in York County depends on more than their work...

YORK, Pa. -- Does the outfit make the woman or is appearance secondary?

Some professionals say their success in York County depends on more than their work ethic - their look could be playing a role.

"Pretty much if I'm doing face makeup, I do all of this," said Carla Christopher, a priestess in training.

Many of us know this struggle, getting put together.

These York County ladies call it painting on their 'warrior faces'.

Applying foundation, blush, mascara, the works just to prepare for the day.

Dressing casual and without much makeup, they see a difference in how they're treated.

"I was treated in the wider world, totally differently than when I walk in in more expensive or more specific clothing," said Christopher.

Is part of being a warrior in the workplace how women look?

"You go through this internal dialogue, of 'How much of a woman can I be? How black can I be?'" explained Christopher.

Christopher, a priestess in training, routinely helps families in York, saying she's expected to look the part more often than not.

"I love getting dressed up when I want to, and I will say, a lot of times, I don't feel like I have that choice," she stated.

She says people consider her more reliable when she's fully made-up.

"If I comfortable, and casual, and functional, ironically, that's seen as being not functional in my role professional," added Christopher.

"You have to legitimize your seat at the table. You have to come prepared for people to think you don't belong there, and part of proving to them that you do, is what you wear," said Sydney Benson, an attorney in York.

Benson owns Benson Legal Services in York.

Her hair's down now, but it wouldn't be in court.

"Just the looks you get when you walk in, I don't blend," explained Benson.

She's fearful of drawing too much attention to what's natural to her.

"I do try to make sure people see me with natural hair and let people know you should get used to this. We are okay," she said.

"As a woman, as a person of color, if the event becomes about your hair and how different you look, you can't get anything done," chimed in Christopher.

For some women, there's pressure being one of just a few females in a predominantly male workplace.

"Part of my wearing a suit in the office or at an attorney's office at a settlement is, to right off the bat, let them know who I am and why I am there," said Emily Doxzon, a Vice President at PeoplesBank.

Doxzon is one of only a few female commercial lenders at PeoplesBank, where power suits replace glasses and sweaters.

"It's my armor. It's my banker uniform," said Doxzon.

For others, lipstick and heels make the difference.

"I tend to go a little extra with it. If I ever showed up to my restaurants like this to seat or serve anybody, they would take me as a joke," said Toni Calderone, owner of Tutoni's Restaurant.

A joke - is owning Tutoni's not enough for Calderone to be taken seriously?

"I'm there for everybody's entertainment and enjoyment, because they've had rough day doing what they do in their job, and they come to me to forget all that," explained Calderone.

Part of Toni's daily grind is being on the go and running errands. Yet, she says she can't wear a tracksuit without people questioning if she's too tired or having a bad day.

"It's literally me just relaxing for a second," she said.

Though these ladies do enjoy getting put together from time to time, they wonder why there's such a focus on a woman's look and not enough on what women offer the community.

"I'm always put together so everybody's always under the conception I got it together," stated Calderone.

"I feel like I bring things to the table that I only bring because I am a woman," said Christopher.

"You can be an attorney, you can be a judge with this hair," said Benson.

Showing FOX43 the transformation from relaxed to ready to take on the world.

"This is what I would wear if I was exercising any sort of pastoral duty," explained Christopher.

"This is I feel like it's form fitting enough that I still feel feminine. Nothing is too revealing or too sexy," explained Doxzon.

"This is trial. My hair is up so I can try to stay away from comments about my hair," said Benson.

"The higher the heels for me. I am very little so it's an authoritative thing for me, and then accessories, and always the lips," said Calderone.

Hoping little girls see female success for what it is more so than what it looks like.

"People come, and they see what you've done and how hard you've worked at it, and now they're starting to believe in you," said Calderone.

"Every little girl at home watching the news right now to look up here and know those little girls could be up on the stage one day," said Christopher.