Monday, June 20, 2011

on feminisism and image

you'll have to forgive me for semi-incoherent ranting as i'm very tired and hungry at the moment. i'll be more cognitive once i've eaten.
i took a look at my wardrobe the other day and saw an interesting divide. i seem to have clothes that i wear to the office and clothes that i wear on my days off. fairly normal some would say but this isn't actually because of a dress code. i fairly flagrantly ignore my company's dress code a lot of the time and i think they haven't found the guts to say anything about it yet. if/when they do i'll have lots of pithy responses to the effect of finding their behavior unprofessional since they are valuing someone's aesthetic over their worth as a person and an employee. but i digress, the main reason for the divide is one of how i want people to see me while i'm at work. while there i tend to wear yoga pants and t-shirts, makeup, and very rarely any jewelry or anything colourful or interesting that is more in keeping with what i think looks good. it's not uncommon that i think i look frumpy and drab when i leave in the morning with my hair pulled out of the way and as plain a style as i can tolerate. i then try to counter this a bit by putting on makeup on the train into the office and this is partially a form of masking; i feel a little more confident and safe going into a hostile situation when i know that at least my face looks a little prettier then i do naturally even if the rest of me doesn't. like it or not, this world caters to those who are physically pretty. some days i really don't feel like doing this and might even think i look just fine that day without any paint but i still do it. partially out of habit and partially because if go without now i'll get a plethora of irritating comments.
on my days off i sometimes wear the same uniform, but really only if i'm cleaning or running errands and the like. if i'm just out enjoying myself (or home doing the same) i can often be found wearing a medieval style dress or a long flowing skirt, jewelry, sometimes flowers in my hair, and rarely any makeup. i don't feel the need to armor myself against the world when i'm choosing what i do and who i interact with. these clothes are comfortable and beautiful to me and it seems a shame to just keep them for special occasions that don't come until said clothes are moth-eaten and no longer fit (noticed moth holes in my clothes recently, we need cedar sachets!)
this has gotten me thinking about my definition of femininity and how it makes me feel in relation to other people. i feel uncomfortable wearing feminine clothes at the office because i work in a strongly male-dominated field and i fear i wont be taken seriously if i'm seen as an attractive woman instead of a talented tech. i often get the feeling that people think you can be one or the other but not both. it's strange that i do wear makeup to work then since that's such a girly piece of dress, but i see it as a mask of protection. a way to separate and camouflage while i have to hang out with these horrible shallow people. i don't bother and i like my naked face a lot more when i'm doing what i want.
this also makes me a bit uncomfortable with wearing dresses and skirts and the like on my days off. does my view of clothing make me less of a feminist? sometimes wearing the things i think are pretty makes me feel like i'll be seen as weak. am i claiming my femininity when i'm among my chosen people? i think part of feminism is wearing whatever you like and not being judged for it. does that mean living by my morals should have me looking more girly at work? do i want to deal with those judgmental people's comments and glares and whispering? when the hell did i start giving a shit what anyone thought anyway? maybe i just need to remember that it is beneath my dignity to care if anyone expresses approval of how i dress. maybe i just need a better job. no, i definitely do. i wonder how my views will change when i have one...

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