Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can you work in those shoes?

Another article devoted to women's attire in the workplace, complete with a cleavage appropriate measuring device and some requisite fat-ist, ageist hate from a Gen-Y mean girl:
"If I want to flaunt what I’ve got, I’ll do it, and I don’t care if some old-fashioned or overweight female employees can’t handle it."

Fashion advice for women in the workplace usually sounds like a soft audition for the Taliban: showing skin is not respectful so cover yourself from collar bones, writes and ankles--like Maggie on the Simpsons; the microwaves from your unbound mermaid hair will tempt men; and your boobs look like the slot from a credit card reader. Personally, I find this advice to be obnoxious and unrealistic:
  • Have you seen what they sell in clothing stores? What are my choices? It's belly button or nipples, even in some business attire. I guess they think we all work in banks.
  • Why don't men get this fashion and body control advice? How about: tuck in your pelvis when you're talking to clients, or I can see your nipple rings through that dress shirt, or quit touching yourself and buy some boxers that fit already?
  • Get your [figurative] hands off of my shirt--if I can work in what I wear and it is clean, unwrinkled and no holes, does it really matter?
So the real question is: can I work in what I wear? Honestly, if I need to climb under desks to fix the mouse, if I have to play Wii tennis with the seniors gaming group, or my car may break down in freezing winter weather while I visit all of the partner libraries in my district, why can't I wear jeans and a sweater? Why can't I wear flip flops if my feet are clean and well-groomed? When did wardrobe become short hand for how capable I am at my job, especially when I am dressing to deal with the job? Shouldn't I get points for pragmatism? Instead, the stereotype for my career is "dowdy" which according to this article is just as dangerous to a salary increase as "sexy".

And yes, whenever I read these articles I am extremely grateful to work in libraries where I have seen blue hair, pierced lips, permanent tattoos on necks, jeans and shirts that don't enclose collar bones--and they let us work with children! We haven't broken the flip flop barrier yet but I hold out hope.

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