I am, dare I say, privileged to be able to dress the way I do in public. I’m the office manager for my family’s business; my boss is my idiosyncratic father, who wears “Eat More Kale” shirts, running shoes, and a ponytail. Our clientele is mostly charmed by my appearance. A few of the older regulars even see their own youth in me, which I appreciate.
Maybe it’s a #firstworldproblem, but I don’t think I could work somewhere that didn’t allow me at least some sartorial freedom. Dressing up is a big part of self-care for me. I get very anxious when my physical presentation doesn’t match how I think of myself. I don’t wear red lipstick every day because I’m in a rut; I wear it because I literally feel wrong without it.
I’m very fortunate not to have my credibility eroded by the way I choose to present myself. I’m surrounded by people who understand that there’s no inherent connection between physical affect and ability to do one’s job. I just wish more people could come to terms with that.
As much as I dislike those tumblr-y “destroy that idea that ___” posts, I really do want to destroy the idea that personal life/personal aesthetic is a fair metric of judging one’s ability to do their job. If I’ve hired you to perform a service, then your performance of that service, and only your performance of that service, is relevant. This seems so simple to me.
I think we as a culture generally have a hard time with the idea that those who serve us are human. You see it in small ways, like yelling at waiters and cashiers for things that aren’t their fault. Like allowing someone’s haircut or tattoos to occlude your impression of their work. And in big ways, like how we gasp collectively when teachers do “kid-unfriendly” things in their private lives and how politicians’ sex scandals end up overshadowing their actual policy. We pay these people to be better than us. Different from us. Fundamentally Other than us. We simply cannot fathom that they are allowed to be human too.