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When Emily Clow, a 24-year-old woman from Austin, Texas, applied for a job at a business that supports entrepreneurs and uses words like “ballsy” in its LinkedIn bio, she never expected that same company to shame her for posting a bikini photo online.
In a Twitter thread on October 1, Emily wrote that she was “objectified” by the business, Kickass Masterminds. She then posted a screenshot she took of the company’s Instagram story. The story featured Emily in a bright red swimsuit, posing in a pool, with her head cut off. Kickass Masterminds wrote on the photo, “PSA…:do no not share your social media with a potential employer if this is the kind of content on it. I am looking for a professional marketer-not a bikini model.”
In another caption on the same photo of Emily, the company wrote, “Go on with your bad self and do whatever in private. But this is not doing you any favors in finding a professional job.”
The irony of a professional account reposting a photo they deemed “unprofessional” was not lost on Emily. “I really didn’t think that an employer that obviously showed interest in me…would use me as an example of what not to do when applying for jobs and call me unprofessional,” she told BuzzFeed News.
The company’s pearl-clutching also didn’t seem to align with their own business values. Kickass Masterminds marketed itself as a company for business owners who “are rebelling from the traditional way of earning a living because they’ve lost faith in ‘corporate America.’” The company swore twice in their bio, saying the business owners they work with “want other like-minded people to have their back when shit gets tough” and that they need the Kickass Masterminds’ support because they’ve “had their ass handed to them” when they ventured into the corporate world alone.
Emily’s original tweet earned nearly 6,000 likes and almost 500 comments, and Kickass Masterminds has since shuttered their website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Their Instagram is now private.
In a screenshot she shared with BuzzFeed News, Emily and a representative from Kickass Masterminds went back and forth over DM after the company shamed her. In one message, the representative reiterated to Emily the fact that everything she posts on social media is public. Emily responded, “I am aware of that, as I worked with social media for two years. I didn’t realize wearing a bathing suit and appreciating my body made me an unprofessional.” She also noted that she’d sent an email to the company politely requesting them to take down the Instagram story that shamed her, and repeated the request in another DM. After three requests, once over email and twice through DM, Kickass Masterminds blocked Emily on Instagram, according to BuzzFeed News.
Since the Tweet, Emily’s mentions have have been full of people voicing their support for her, encouraging her to sue the company, and even trying to help her find another job.
Emily told BuzzFeed News she thought her experience might seem unfortunately familiar to other working women. “I figured that, ‘Hey, I might as well talk about this,’ because if I talk about it I know someone else is going through this and we can start a conversation and see if there’s a way to fix the issue,” Emily said. “I thought this was a situation that I feel like a lot of women deal with on a daily basis when they’re job hunting.”