Dressing to Impress in the Absence of Feminism

One of the unfortunate truths of the universe is that we cannot wear whatever we want.  Most of us who go to school or work have restrictions on our dress.  We need not pretend dress codes are not arbitrary, but we must also acknowledge that without them, somebody would show up for work in Wonder Woman pajamas, a tank top, and flip flops.  You know who you are.

The ridiculousness  of dress codes first hit me while watching Brady Bunch reruns.  There are many fascinating things about Brady Brunch reruns.  Are there no toilets in that house?  Why is the maid the only one who gets her own room?  But most of all, how does Marcia Brady lean over to use the water fountain without showing all the boys her underwear?  How was it that my mother could wear the mini miniskirt to school and I, a generation later, had to make sure the tip of my middle finger touched fabric when I put my hands at my side?  Who made this decision and why?  I suspect there are dissertations, with variations including the evolution of Star Fleet uniforms, written on this phenomenon.  If somebody could summarize, that would be great.

I was blessed with sons whose idea of fashion is covering as much skin as possible at all times even if it is 110 degrees outside.  I suspect this has something to do with maintaining cybernetic connectivity in their skin.  I haven’t had to worry much about dress code violations. Perhaps it’s because I have not been keeping up that I was actually surprised to see that summer band uniforms for girls are a full 4 inches shorter than the boys’ uniforms.  The boys wear black shorts that come down to their knees.  The girls wear actual running shorts.  Really?  In 2016?

I’m not sure that running shorts are not appropriate attire for marching band, but if you are a girl in band, and you don’t agree, I guess you’re shit out of luck. One might argue, especially if you are a teenage girl, that knee-length shorts are a less than fashionable choice, which is bullshit.  Have you seen band uniforms?  Besides, what is fashion but a reflection of our values?  And the band gods have decided that what we value is a lot of female leg.  Which, by the way, is against dress code the rest of the school day.  Apparently displaying lots of flesh is more appropriate when you are standing up performing in front of a lot of people than when you are sitting at your desk minding your own business.

I mentioned this to my son who does consider himself a feminist (I am the best mom), and he got that really panicked look he gets every time I threaten to make a stink at the school (look, they were handing out bibles).  He likes the short shorts, he admits sheepishly.  Not because of the thigh candy, but because running shorts do not have pockets like boys’ band shorts do, and you can tell a girl likes you because she’ll ask you to hold her phone during practice.  Who am I to disrupt teenage mating rituals?

Sadly, it doesn’t get better when you’re an adult.  I am still told what to wear.  I am especially disappointed by the no open-toed shoe policy. And I resent being told sandals are somehow dangerous in my office job when there are people who wear 5 inch heels. I would also like to know the story behind “no colored shoe laces.” Who went and ruined it for everyone, and just what color were the offending laces?  Someday, I am going to find out.

Whining about company dress code is the right of office workers everywhere. It’s an institution like community coffee and stealing toilet paper.  Maybe we were whining too loudly, though, because the CFO felt the need to bring it up during our last in-service day.  She stood in front of all 300 employees in a lovely pants suit and explained in easy-to-understand words that the reason we were not to wear sleeveless tops was to avoid distracting men.  There are only 5 men in my building, and I do not know which one of them has a shoulder fetish, but I have my suspicions. I suppose I should appreciate her honesty.  She could have lied and said it was because arm flesh is not professional looking, but why sugar coat it?  Men are pigs, so women have to wear sleeves so everyone can function.

I can’t imagine why the man sitting next to me in the 5th circle of hell that is company in-service was offended by this, but he was.  Enough so that he declared quite loudly that he was fully capable of doing his job while looking at ANY human body part.  This is really good news because like many people who work here, this man is a medical doctor.

I was a bit dumb-founded, really.  Did feminism just not happen here? Perhaps she anticipated my confusion, so she followed up with a story about back when she was younger and skinnier (before she hit crone status at 37), she wore a particularly cute outfit to church.  One of the older women pulled her aside and told her she was distracting her husband so her dress was therefore inappropriate.  My CFO went onto explain how grateful she was for her elder’s advice.  Well bless her heart.

I’ve been looking for a job where I can work from home.  I know there are many advantages to this including not commuting and flexible scheduling.  But mostly it’s because I want to wear Wonder Woman pajamas, a tank top, and flip flops.





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