Last month, “The Fox News Specialists,” co-host and radio personality, Eboni K. Williams received an incredible mix of backlash and support after berating President Donald Trump for not calling out White nationalist groups for their violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The act was a rare and bold move on a network not particularly known for heavily criticizing Trump. But the decision to take a stance was necessary for Williams who has mastered her life’s philosophy on wielding the power of physical aesthetics and substance to attain success.
In her book, Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success she encourages women to embrace their mental strengths and physical attributes in order to advance in their professions. The book features insights from women like Desiree Rogers (former CEO of Johnson Publishing); and prosecutor Marcia Clark.
Check out our discussion with Williams below about why she wore a red dress to deliver her attack on Trump, the power of pretty, and overcoming feelings of shame due to poverty.
Your book is about harnessing the collective power of beauty, style and substance. How did you decide on your appearance when going after President Trump on-air?
I wrote my segment before I knew what I’d wear on the show that day. Normally I’d counter that aggressive tone with something to soften the edge such as wearing pink or white. Instead, I did the opposite. I knew the tone would be aggressive and I wore red to double down on the impact and tone of what I was conveying. I used the appearance factor to not balance my rhetoric but to further it and bolster the tone.
The title of the book can lead some to think this is just about the power of beauty. But for you it’s so much more than that.
The book is not what people think it is and it can be misleading. We want people to look deeper than the cover. We want to retain the word pretty and let women define ourselves as we see fit. We want to assert ourselves in this world, as we are comfortable. If that means being glammed up then let us do that. If it’s stripped down but bossed up then let us do that too. There is no one way to do it. We should be allowed to find our own comfort zone to assert ourselves professionally in the way best suited to meet our goals.
While reflecting on life experiences in writing this book did you have any epiphanies?
The biggest takeaway was me realizing the shame I had around growing up in poverty. I didn’t feel as valuable as my classmates who had more wealth. But at the same time I’d do it over again. My entire childhood has been people thinking the worse or presuming stereotypes. I’ve had to defy them at every turn and that’s par for the course for me.
Did poverty make you more self-conscious about the amount of substance you had to offer as a way to combat certain stereotypes?
Yes, substance matters more. There’s a political narrative of the Ronald Reagan “welfare queen” of someone who is just fat, sloppy, and poor. So we had to bust those stereotypes wide open. We were poor but you wouldn’t know it because my mom had me in a polo, khaki shorts, and loafers. It was the same ones every day. But I looked like a serious student who was there to learn and go to the next level academically. Since we came from nothing it mattered more what I looked like and that I had right answers. I was the first to raise my hand and engage with the teacher. I may have been bused over to school but I was as ready as anybody in there.