This is Not a Resolution

January 4, 2010 at 9:47 am 3 comments

But I’m going to try and look the part more often.
(Some well-chosen Christmas gift certificates will help with that)

Drab, aggressively sexless, sartorially clueless people in any profession make a statement by their very presence, and that statement is not a good one. Some of the non-verbal statements such appearance makes are:

1. I do not want anyone to look at me.
2. I don’t deserve attention; being noticed is something I am not prepared to accept and a responsibility I do not want.
3. I am harmless; in fact, I am passive. The world is happening around me and I hope to be invisible in it.
4. I don’t care. I occupy an alternative universe where appearance doesn’t matter — and if you notice that I am frumpy, it must be because you are not as holy as I am.
5. (similar) You should be enlightened enough not to be distracted by my terrible clothing and ill-fitting undergarments: what’s the matter with you? This isn’t my problem, but yours.
6. Please do not mistake me for a leader. Isn’t it obvious from my demeanor and my attire that I have no desire to represent any ideal higher than that of personal comfort? If there were camera crews outside covering today’s event, my on-camera appearance would immediately communicate to the public that nothing of real importance happens in here.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Trabb's Boy  |  January 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    If this is what you want, then by all means, go for it. I have to say that I disagree on the whole with PeaceBang’s statement. Clothing does make an impression, and in some parts of the country the expectations trend more seriously toward the carefully put together look, with make-up, accessories, and hairspray. But it is not essential to gaining respect. In fact, the willingness to toe the line itself doesn’t exactly shout “leader.”

    Dressing down can say a lot of things other than what she describes. The attached message may be that time and money are better spent on living life fully and generously, or that acquisition of fancy clothes is vanity or hard on the environment or a cave-in to the male gaze.

    What matters is what PeaceBang notes in the last point — demeanor. You can wear “frumpy” clothes and no make-up with your head held high and fire in your eyes, and that is what makes people take you seriously. You can be perfectly groomed and sit with your eyes cast down and not make any impression at all.

    Some people want to go out on a limb and look outrageous. And I agree that this will focus attention on their looks more than their message in some cases. It comes down to a range of acceptability, I guess.

  • 2. Cleric at Large  |  January 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Trabb’s Boy- and you’re not wrong. What really hit me about PeaceBang’s piece was the “please do not mistake me for a leader”.

    And I know, this is part of feeling a little flounder-y in my working life, having stalled my career with child-rearing. And partly a response to the realization that others in my graduating class are far more established than I am.

    And partly, about my own need to grow up, step up, and fully claim the role that I’ve been cautious about inhabiting for coming on 11 years now. I’m not sure exactly how wearing jeans less often at the office is going to accomplish that- but it was helpful for me to be reminded that there is an extent to which outward appearances do matter, at least a little.

    But yeah, I’m not going to be investing in a lot of hairspray. And I can’t afford more than a few classic wardrobe pieces in any given season. So maybe attitude is really what it comes down to.

    I am Cleric. Hear me roar.

  • 3. PeaceBang  |  January 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Right on to both of you! For some people who don’t know how to claim the ‘tude, starting with the exterior can be a big help.

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