Recently, a local newspaper had a special section on charity events. The majority of the events reported were fund raising galas. Looking at the newspaper page as a whole, several things jumped out. First, was that most of the pictures had attractive young women in them. Often there was a man in the center of the photograph with his arms around young women pulled close to his body. The caption for each picture could have been “Senator So-and-So and his girls,” or “Big Boss and his girls,” or “Local Celebrity and his girls.” Not surprisingly, there were no pictures of female bosses with their arms around attractive young men.
The second thing of note was that each young woman had a drink in her hand. Did they appear old enough to drink? Yes. Is it acceptable to have a drink at a social event? Yes. Is it a good idea to be photographed at that social event with a drink in your hand? Definitely not.
Any public relation specialist will tell you that it is almost never a good idea to be documented drinking. (An exception might be a toast at your wedding.) You never know when a picture may come back to haunt you. We have all read about problems job applicants experience when a recruiter discovers what they, or others, have posted about them online. Often the most negative factor is appearing drunk or out of control.
If you are a young woman, your professional image hasn’t yet been fully formed. As the person most responsible for determining how you are perceived during your career, it is in your own best interest to limit any possible future liability. A picture in a newspaper or posted online is forever. You don’t want these lifetime optics to be alcohol related. And while you are at it, you certainly don’t want to be seen as just “one of the girls.”