Thursday, 26 January 2017

Advice to corporate ladies: a poetry post

I've been listening to talk about dress codes and sexual discrimination on Woman's Hour. It's taken me back to the years when I worked in offices. I tried to dress 'appropriately' but was constantly getting in trouble about my appearance. My hair was the wrong colour, my shoes were the wrong height, I wasn't allowed to wear trousers in court, I needed a tailored jacket, and so on and so on and so on. I once had a workplace appraisal (joy) wherein my line manager told me that I was scruffy and wouldn't be taken seriously. She was wearing a waistcoat so I chose to ignore her sartorial advice. It's incredibly difficult to find clothes that are deemed suitable for an office and which also fit chubby bodies... I suspect that it's actually the bodies that are deemed suspect. 

Anyway, according to recent research discussed on Woman's Hour women, espeically young women are still being required to dress for other people's gaze, to wear high heels, with no regard for health and safety, and to undo another button.

This is no surprise. Stuck in a queue recently I scanned the magazines in the rack, there were some men, talking about the things they had achieved in their careers, and there were lots and lots and lots of women, talking about how much weight they'd lost, how they'd come to terms with their problem bodies, how they learned to dress slimmer, on and on and on.

Women get criticised for being interested in our appearance, but it is required of us, and drummed home all the time, that what we are worth depends on what we look like. It's chuffing ridiculous, it's internalised, it's everywhere.

The Prompt this week at Mum Turned Mom is 'Pride' and having all this stuff on my mind, while looking in the mirror and feeling that I actually look rough as badgers at the moment made me think of the old adage that one should take pride in one's appearance. Well, I'm pretty chuffed that I don't currently have ink stained fingers, and that the mark on my jumper isn't as apparent as it was earlier, so that will have to do.

Advice for corporate ladies

Take pride in your appearance,
dress for your age, keep young
and beautiful. That's what you're for.
You girls, you're obsessed with looks.

Wear a shorter skirt next time.
Wear those nice heels so you look smart.
a happy customer is
a repeat customer.

Don't dye your hair, it looks weird.
Don't go grey, you look old.
For Pete's sake don't cover it,
you look like a terrorist. 

Why not unbutton a button?
Look at you in those heels!
I don't know how you walk!
You young girls, obsessed with your looks.

You're putting on the beef
I'm not sure that you fit in,
that we can cram you in,
to our corporate world -

- our little grey box of
little grey boxes where
you should be little and
wear a little grey.  

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 26/1/17

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