How can I be taken more seriously?


I am 5'1, and 105 lbs. I am 26 but I look like I am 18. I am currently a junior nursing student and I work as a CNA. Today my boss told me I am small, have a high voice and not as assertive as the other bigger girls. I have always had this problem with people not taking me seriously. People always call me "little/cute/tiny". I want to have a good career as a nurse but how will I ever be successful being so small? No one takes me seriously and it is really kicking my confidence. Advice? Anyone have a similar issue?

(and I will change my username as soon as the option opens up in a few hours because I won't actually have my BSN until next May)


4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

An air of professionalism is what you need to wear EVERY day. Hair neat and up, not "girly". Makeup clean and careful; you don't want to look like a cabaret singer, but you don't want to go so 'natural' you look 12 ;)

Scrubs are professional and neat. Leave the Betty Boops to someone else; solid colors and a good fit (nothing dragging on the ground, please!) are important.

Being petite means being careful to find clothes that fit properly, so you don't look "schlumpy", like you threw on your big sister's clothes. Petite sizes, or tailored, make a difference.

A professional ATTITUDE is your very biggest asset. If you have a girly giggle....LOSE it.

Attitude is everything, and while you clearly have a GOOD one, you need to make sure the MATURE one is plainly obvious, too :)

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.

I'm short, and look young, but my personality and presence and experience has made it very challenging for even the most challenging person to TRY to challenge me, lol.

For me, I think it took practice to learn, and I got better and better within two years of being a CNA; by the time I became a nurse, I didn't get challenged much, and for those who didn't want to interact with me, I was forever grateful-and I am sure they were. ;)

I'm pretty assertive, and it shows in my body language as well as my professionalism; it is quite a balance, and possible; it just takes practice; as far as your voice, there's no way of changing that, but the body language can be a good sell. :yes:

CT Pixie, BSN, RN

3,723 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

I'm even shorter and thinner than you (I am literally the size of the average 12 year old girl)..but quite a bit older. I've encountered the same bias. However, my attitude and personality are much larger than my 12 year old build. I am not overly aggressive but i stand my ground. I may be under 5 feet tall but I feel 6 ft tall..I guess that idea of myself shows to others around me.

Like the others said, you have to present a professional cutsey hairstyles, no cutsey scrubs, try to avoid anything that would associate you with a young kid.

Only you can allow others to make you feel good or bad about yourself. You need to know (on the inside) you are more than a petite should be taken just as seriously as the average sized woman..but YOU need to tell yourself that. Once you do that, it will shine through on the outside.


671 Posts

I think if you were to project confidence and assertiveness and maintain your professionalism I think you should be fine. being small or looking young shouldn't be a set back to your workplace functioning.


6 Posts


Try being a male in the nursing world. Very few if any take us seriously. From ones I have talked too. With experience, comes respect and trust. I guess this is something all newbies must endure.

Specializes in Neuroscience. Has 4 years experience.

You're petite and worried about what others think of you. This is the problem. Not your size, not your height, not how old you look (Which you'll be grateful for later) but the fact that you are dwelling on the most insignificant thing in your whole clinical/work day. Your size.

When it is no longer important to you, it will no longer be important to others. Accept who you are, the size you are, and look at how you can change your skills. Often, the smallest people are the ones you don't want to cross, because we've already come to terms with our size and it is not a limitation. Unfortunately, we have to show others that, but they do learn quickly.

Do the job you're supposed to do, and confront your boss when she is nit picking. Don't let her. Your voice does not define your ability any more than your size does. Is your job any easier because of your stature or your voice? It shouldn't be. It would be good to remind your boss of that the next time she says something belittling.

Besides...we are actually "cute". Own it.

allnurses Guide

JBudd, MSN

1 Article; 3,836 Posts

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 42 years experience.

martial arts. Helps you learn to carry yourself confidently, and not care what other people think; helps develop self respect and attitude.

Totally agree with the above posters... professionalism.

Has 33 years experience.

First of all , stop referring to yourself as a "girl".

Then practice the body language you want to give out. I have to admit, when I hear high-pitched voices, I think " too young to do this job". Is it possibly to modulate your voice?

psu_213, BSN, RN

3,878 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 14 years experience.
First of all , stop referring to yourself as a "girl".

I have noticed in healthcare, that female nurses/aides tend to refer to other female nurses/aides as "girl(s)"…not sure I understand why. Anyway, I digress...

I agree with what others have said…get rid of "girly habits" (a giggle is fine at, say, a party…not while working as a nurse/nursing student), work on speaking and carrying yourself confidently, look the part of a mature nurse, and don't look at yourself as too small or too young for the part.


24 Posts

My apologies, I was carded for rated R movies well into my 20s - a flattering but patronizing curse, and still don't know how to be taken seriously; I wish I could be more useful.

What I can offer is a description of a my 40Y old friend who is trapped in an 18Y body, who I've been trying to emulate. :o I have made the mistake of trying to "teen talk" TO her (note to self: is there every a really good reason to do this to an adult - even a teen?)

Without being snippy (like some of us smaller folk tend to do), she will reply with insightful speech and square body language (her posture is impeccable).

Square shoulders and direct eye contact let you know she is listening to every single word you say and is intelligent enough to assess/evaluate your meaning, or, that, clearly, she has heard this before and has ALREADY pondered it from every possible angle. It makes me think a little more carefully about what I'm saying. PURE GRAVITAS

The thing is, she makes people check themselves without feeling judged. She can't verbalize her style or simply doesn't want to share her secret, but here's my impression:

between making me feel that someone is listening and responding with relevant and insightful words - it exudes graciousness which I think is a very important professional value to have. The draw back is that sometimes others will get the impression that she is without a sense of humor (NOT TRUE), but I suspect this is the cost of coping with her young looks. By the way, she is a highschool teacher.

Anyway there it is FWIW - I realize its easier said than done especially since this is a its impossible to control other's thoughts- but I wish you lotsa luck.


4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

I have noticed in healthcare, that female nurses/aides tend to refer to other female nurses/aides as "girl(s)"...not sure I understand why. Anyway, I digress...

I know, right?? But honestly, I used to work in an office where all the women EXCEPT for me were over 50 years of age. And they ALWAYS referrerd to themselves as "the girls in the office", "the girl over there". Ick. I was less than half of their ages and I knew *I* was a WOMAN! :D