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Grown up tomboys and gender stereotypes


O Latin

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I wasn’t sure if I should put this here or on the chatter board. I thought I could put it here since it has to do with feminism and perceptions about gender. If it doesn’t belong here, it can be moved.

I wasn’t very tomboyish when I was younger. I liked frilly dresses and stuffed animals and I wanted everything to be pink. I still do like pink and flowery prints and I do things like iron my sheets, so most people see me as this super girly girl. But I think I’ve turned into sort of a grown-up tomboy. I wear jeans and t-shirts, not much makeup, and I spend hardly any time fixing my hair and otherwise getting ready in the morning. I’m happy like this. I have no desire to appear more girly.

But I’ve noticed that women who are successful (I don’t mean super, way at the top successful a la Hillary Clinton, just normal successful) are the ones with stylish clothes, made-up faces, and perfect hair. They also seem to walk and talk a certain way. I don’t really no how to describe it, except to say that fundie girls aren’t the only ones who are expected to keep sweet.

I don’t want to participate in this “perfect woman†competition. Current fashion trends annoy me, and I resent that advertisers and the media can get away with telling us that we have to buy endless products in order to get anywhere in the world. I hate the fact that I am seen as less of a person because I don’t buy into this ridiculousness.

So what do you guys think? Do any of you see this, too? Is it possible to be successful in life without being a beauty queen? Obviously, I will dress appropriately for whatever job or career I choose to pursue. I wear jeans and t-shirts now because I’m in college. But I don’t want to not get a job someday because I have long hair and don’t wear mascara.

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Absolutely I see it, even in the "geek" arena. Girls can be geeks, but they have to also be hot. Jeans and t-shirts are fine, but those should be form-fitting t-shirts and you better look sexy in those jeans.

Running for office? People will discuss your clothing choices, and particularly whether your clothing choices indicate any sort of desire to overturn some traditional order (just look at the various critiques of Hillary Clinton's pantsuits, the very concept of wearing a pantsuit was made political). People talked about her "cankles" too - when was the last time anyone did that to a male candidate?

...though I suppose possibly the "Mom jeans" critiques of Obama maybe come close.

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I feel the same way! I go to the hairdresser maybe once a year to cut my hair shoulder-lenght, keep my hair its natural brown with the occasional henna treatment, and most of my clothes come from thrift stores or swaps. I've had many jobs where I was given a hard time for this by the other girls. One of them scolded me for not getting a professional manicure for the office party, and when I said I didn't even get one for my wedding so why would I get one for an office party, she gave me an horrified look. I don't like current fashion, and don't follow it. I wear straight jeans, because I am pear-shaped and skinny jeans would accentuate that.

20 or 30 years ago, working women were excused if they didn't have the time to take care of their physical appearance, but now you have to work full-time AND be the perfect homemaker AND look like a supermodel. That makes me sick, as it is another form of oppression.

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This will probably make people mad, but it's true in my experience and I believe in being honest about issues like this because it's important. Otherwise, why discuss it? We can't learn anything if we're all big fakers about it.

I don't like it and sometimes it makes me very insecure, but I do it anyway. I do it because I view it as a strategy. If I do what they want, "play the game", whatever you want to call it I can get ahead. I don't have a career yet, but I'm in University. I dress casually while out with friends or just chilling in my apartment etc, but I purposely try to dress up a bit, fix my hair, and I wear makeup almost every day (well every class day). I don't like bringing up my disability all of the time, but I feel like it plays into it. I'm noticed more because it, in the sense that I can't just move about rooms easily in a throng of other students. If you're slower to move, teachers often talk to you. Also, the wheelchair seating is usually at the front, so again they see me and get to know me. I want to appear professional and serious. I don't want them to think I'm a slacker (especially when I'll soon need grad school references).

I know, hardcore feminists might accuse me of "doing femininity well" or grasping at "petty power", but I suppose I don't care. I think of myself as a pragmatist. If something is useful to me then I use it. Is that too Machiavellian? I don't know.

I also take certain measures to appear more feminine in the clothes I choose, the accessories, etc. I try to comport myself in a way that is lady like and if I'm speaking to someone, especially for the first time, I will effect my voice to be softer and higher. I don't even realize I do it most of the time. It's just a habit. Part of it is how I was raised. My early childhood was a lot of dresses and hats. "Ladies don't point." "Ladies don't sit that way" "Ladies speak nicely" etc. And going to parties and event where you had to dress a certain way and were expected to behave a certain way. Part of it is just wanting to perceived as nice and personable. I don't want to appear too abrasive turn people off. It's usual for making connections if people like you, it's politic. But part of it is also not wanting to appear mannish and overbearing like Thatcher and other female leaders are often characterized. I know I'm smart, loud, and opinionated but if people see me as those things and masculinized...it might put me at a disadvantage. If can be those things while being womanly and kind it might prove useful or easier?

I don't know, just my POV.

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What is funny is that at my former job in an insurance company, I was given a hard time by the other women for not taking enough care of my appearance, not getting manicures, having long hair, wearing thrift store clothes, etc. And now that I work in a call center where all the ladies are really frumpy (for example, there is one I've always seen wearing the same hoodie) and they tell me "wow, are you going out with your husband tonight? you're all dolled up!" or "why do all this? the customers don't even see you!". Yet I don't do anything different than at the previous job. So there is no right or wrong answer. What appeared "neglected" for one group of women is "all dolled up" for another.

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For all the progress we have made, there is still a giant double standard when it comes to appearance. Women can be reprimanded in many jobs for not wearing make up. Women have to spend more time getting ready each morning to meet the standards of their jobs' dress codes. It's just one more subtle way to discriminate against women. Like it's not bad enough that we already make 3/4 of what a man makes, but then we have to spend that money on make-up and more expensive clothing just to keep our jobs.

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What is funny is that at my former job in an insurance company, I was given a hard time by the other women for not taking enough care of my appearance, not getting manicures, having long hair, wearing thrift store clothes, etc. And now that I work in a call center where all the ladies are really frumpy (for example, there is one I've always seen wearing the same hoodie) and they tell me "wow, are you going out with your husband tonight? you're all dolled up!" or "why do all this? the customers don't even see you!". Yet I don't do anything different than at the previous job. So there is no right or wrong answer. What appeared "neglected" for one group of women is "all dolled up" for another.

This is just a case of women being held to impossible standards. There's a razor-thin area of acceptability that is nearly impossible to achieve. You can't be too pretty or too ugly. You can't put in too much effort or too little. You can't care too much or too little. No matter what you do, it's always wrong.

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GRRRR. I just had a reply and it got et.

I don't work outside the home anymore. The job I was injured at was at the TSA when I was a baggage screener (2003) and I had to wear the blue smurf (apologies to the smurfs) uniform.(Actually we had two other uniforms before the smurf one, nothing like the government wasting money). There was no way to be feminine or ladylike. Nail colors were proscribed, hair color was proscribed and you were a drone.

I have always been a tee shirt and jeans/shorts kind of gal. I live in shorts most of the summer and rock my flip flops or sandals. I hate closed toed shoes. I always have my nails and my toes done. If I didn't have my nails done I would have them bitten to the quick. And nothing makes me smile than to stretch in the morning and see my bright toe nails shining back up at me.

I was a tomboy. I was the only girl on my block growing up and I had to be able to play baseball, football and all those other sports. I can't imagine going ice skating wearing a long ankle length skirt and trying to play hockey, that's a recipe for disaster.

I'll dress up if I'm going to a concert at Disney Hall or other venue, but for me comfort is the first thought. I've got lots of nice dressy summer things if I need them. But when I'm home I'm in my tee shirts and shorts.

YMMV

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I feel the same way! I go to the hairdresser maybe once a year to cut my hair shoulder-lenght, keep my hair its natural brown with the occasional henna treatment, and most of my clothes come from thrift stores or swaps. I've had many jobs where I was given a hard time for this by the other girls. One of them scolded me for not getting a professional manicure for the office party, and when I said I didn't even get one for my wedding so why would I get one for an office party, she gave me an horrified look. I don't like current fashion, and don't follow it. I wear straight jeans, because I am pear-shaped and skinny jeans would accentuate that.

20 or 30 years ago, working women were excused if they didn't have the time to take care of their physical appearance, but now you have to work full-time AND be the perfect homemaker AND look like a supermodel. That makes me sick, as it is another form of oppression.

*sigh*

I had a great little sermonette but this bulletin board ate it (asked if I wanted to reconsider my reply since someone had replied while I was talking, and then it all went away)

But I'll try to remain in my good mood.

Were I more energetic, I'd find a shit-eating-grin smiley and put it here.

Ladies and gents, I was a working-outside-the-home mom 20 and 30 years ago, and I guarantee, nobody gave any of us a pass because we weren't expected to look good.

The first-wave women who ushered my generation in told us about a very important item of career clothing:

Big-girl panties.

They now come in briefs, hip-huggers, bikinis and even thongs, though I wouldn't know from personal experience.

You put on the b-gp's and you start askign questions:

1) The career I think I want: what is its dress code? Does that dress code annoy me so much that I want to consider another career?

I'm serious about that. If you have an aversion to scrubs or lab coats, you probably don't want to get into healthcare.

2) The career I think I want: Do I want to rise through the ranks, or is it possible I'll be okay doing the same kind of work 'til I retire?

If you think you want to rise, look at the women on the rung above you. Do you want to dress like them? If not, you seriously need to reconsider your plans. Ambitious people do what it takes and being groomed in a certain way is not a huge effort in most cases.

3) Do I ever want kids? And if I have an SO, does s/he want them? If we both do, and if we both continue to WOTH, what are our plans for the sleep-deprived-sick-kid nights, which I guarantee are a challenge to one's appearance at 6 a.m. Who stays home when the child is still too sick for school or daycare in the morning? Because I also guarantee you: Going to work exhausted AND angry does nothing for your appearance.

Back to present-day. Next time you're at work, or watching people on the sidewalks at commute time or lunch hour, ignore the women.

Look at the men. Most of them are in -- the corporate uniform. I guarantee again: Probably 25% of them like the coat, trousers, tie. The rest abhor it. But they've gotta do it, so they do.

Continue to ignore the ladies and look at the gents in middle- and upper-management. They're not fat nor thin, but fit-looking, well groomed. it takes them extra time to do it, and it's worth it, because it's part of what got them there and keeps them there.

Consider this: A large majority of CEOs are tall. When I went to work, the CEO was 5'6". Leeeetle bitty guy! But he'd worked his arse off and gotten up there. The next three guys to hold that job were at 6-footers at least. And when they'd get together with their immediate subordinates, many of them also tall, yes, they tended to forget there were people below their stratosphere.

However! There were diminutive people in their cirlce, and they did whatever they needed to get noticed. The lady VP I worked for was 5'2".

The current CEO of the company is 5'7", and he came up through the company.

My point? You have to decide what's important to you, and you have to decide if a job/career is going to be worth the dress code required.

You also have to stop making the dour, self-fulfilling prophecies, because those things have the *nastiest* habit of living up to their names!!!

Dont' shoot yourselves in the foot before you even get to the gate.

OTOH, maybe you are just so danged good at what you do that nobody is gonna care if you come to work in your own idea of good clothes. Then by all means, be just that good and change your little corner of the world.

My generation thought we'd change the whole world, when starting with our own little corners would have been a lot more effective.

OK, the old broad's sermon is over. Go in peace. :pray:

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I don't think you need to look like a model or put on tons of makeup or wear tight uncomfortable clothes - but it does help if you look professional. Whether you like it or not people will judge you. In my case - how would a patient feel if they walked in to see someone with wild hair, sweats and running shoes? It is not respectful. However you don't need to compromise your principles to dress professionally at work. It just takes some thought and organization. When I dress appropriately I get treated better and I feel better.

In my case this is what I do:

I have long hair but it is inappropriate for me to have loose long hair at work - who wants someone's (who you don't love or perhaps even like) hair in their face? So I wear my hair up in a bun at work. I do love make up but I love to sleep in a little longer more so I have pared down my routine to : some tinted sunscreen, blush, lip gloss and if I have time: eye liner and mascara. Doing my hair/makeup takes me less than 5 minutes

I don't have many clothes, but what I do have is a few good quality clothes that all co ordinate/fit. I rarely shop. I buy a few classics whenever the old ones wear out - I tailor them so they fit well and then I take care of them. My wardrobe is carefully organized. So it is actually pretty economical and in fact costs no more than my husband's wardrobe (he is in business so he wears a suit to work most days). I love comfort so not one of my clothes are tight or binding ( I am not tall or thin and I have found that good tailoring is key). I have a few pairs of good quality shoes - again the cost is no higher than my husband's work shoes. Because everything is coordinated and organized I can get dressed in <5 minutes.

I used to spend so much money on clothes - I had tons of things and never anything I wanted to wear. Now that I have organized myself - I actually spend very little on clothes or shoes and I find it pretty easy to look professional and comfortable at work.

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I'm 23, and while I'll put on a skirt or nice pants for church and might dress up a bit for fun or for a night out, I tend to look under-dressed compared to the other girls in the club, because I barely put any make-up on and often just wear my most in-tact pair of jeans and a decent top. I try to appear clean and well-groomed, but that's about as far as I get. My hair is long, I do whatever with it, but nothing time-consuming. I don't die it beyond the odd lemon juice at the beach. Make-up has never been an everyday thing for me, ever. I don't typically pay much attention to fashion, I just wear what I personally like and is comfortable, but barely ever shop. The only place I've worked so far is a gymnastics gym, and for that my uniform was a staff t-shirt, athletic shorts/pants, and my hair tied back. Bare feet. Good for me as I tend to run around barefoot a lot anyway. However, for proper job interviews in the OMG I NEED TO BE A REAL ADULT WITH A CAREER sense, I'll put on proper black dress pants and some sort of collared top, typically a blouse, and make sure my hair is at least partly tied back so as not to get in the way or make me look even younger than I already look. (Most people guess me to be 17-19.) Happily for me my boyfriend appreciates a natural look and I've yet to face much judgment about my appearance, beyond being teased by friends and family for having clothes in my closet I've had since the beginning of high school or sometimes even earlier (yeah, I had my growth spurt early, I've been this tall since I was 14 and my weight's been in the same range since then as well). If people do start to pick on me (in an adult way, like for jobs and stuff - schoolgirl teasing doesn't bother me anymore, I got bullied so much I stopped caring) for not being a superficial little creature, I will definitely start bitching about it.

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I agree that men also have a dress code to a certain extent, but to see the double standard, just watch CNN or any news program for that matter.

You never see a female reporter, anchorperson, or a politician for that matter with a flabby beer gut or a petrified dishrag face that she has to stuff into her collar each morning. The males, however, have that rather frequently. I think with the males, you can look like Jabba the Hut but as long as you have most of your hair left, you can be a serious TV reporter or a politician.

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Meh, I think it depends on what you do for a living. My aunt's in academia and I hope to follow her into it, and it seems like the norm in her circle is less make-up, non-structured hair, etc. Women who are too into fashion are a little suspect -- not so serious.

Being in the military like I am now, women who are very "done" are also a little suspect. Sure, it helps on some level to be pretty, but if you play your pretty up it makes you look less serious. I wear a little makeup most days because I like to personally and I think it does look more professional, and I *have* to be fit, but I don't feel like my looks are a big deal.

But I know that would be very different in some other professions. I was a total tomboy growing up, and now I'm pretty feminine - I like wearing skirts, makeup, fashion. but I'd still love to stay out of career fields where my looks mattered much.

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The first-wave women who ushered my generation in told us about a very important item of career clothing:

Big-girl panties.

:lol:

1) The career I think I want: what is its dress code? Does that dress code annoy me so much that I want to consider another career?

My future career is a sartorial joke. Guidance counselors get portrayed as these hippy-dippy types in broomstick skirts or jumpers, maybe a step above kindergarten teachers, who at least have the "I work with wee dirt factories" excuse. I'd like, if anything, to be part of changing the stereotype. Which brings us to...

2) The career I think I want: Do I want to rise through the ranks, or is it possible I'll be okay doing the same kind of work 'til I retire?

I hope I'll be happy counseling until I retire, but at the same time, I don't think it's a bad idea to overdress a touch for the job you have, unless said job has a uniform, and especially if said uniform has a purpose. So if I want to be taken seriously by the administrators, and therefore have my ideas taken seriously, I need to look like someone they would respect. I need to break the stereotype.

Besides, I'm 4'11" and planning to work with high schoolers. I have to do something to stand out from the students. :D

My generation thought we'd change the whole world, when starting with our own little corners would have been a lot more effective.

Gandhi was right! Who knew?--Naw, seriously, there's something to be said for changing what you can while you're around to do it. A lot of people thinking that way together stand a better chance of changing the world. If only a few people feel like thinking that way, though, even if the world doesn't change, pieces of it have, and that's a beginning.

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I'm very much a tomboy too. I take a lot of heat for some of the things I do, such as driving a truck, not wearing dresses, no makeup, etc. I just don't like girly things. What pisses me off is some people think I'm a lesbian. I'm not. I like men dammit. I don't have to look like a prom queen. Most of the people that give a hard time are christians, who are supposed to be accepting and forgiving. :roll:

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I'd like to think one would dress with confidence. I hire and manage people. I meet with people in different departments. I may meet with the administrative assistants. I may meet with director and everyone else in between. I need to dress with confidence and authority.

It does not mean that I have to be trendy or stylish, but I have to be clean and neat and must keep the attention of those I am talking with. They cannot be focused on my clothes.

Now that being said, I haven't worn a dress in in about 10 years(?). I wear makeup, but it's minimal and I like it. I keep my hair very short.

I have people working in my department who are very capable, but their attire will prevent them from moving up. If you look like a slob, you just won't be taken seriously. I am not talking about wearing $500 suits, but you can get some decent clothes on cheap. I know - I do it. Yes, I know you do an excellent job, but my customers, clients will look at you and say, "heck, you can't even take care of yourself, how am I supposed to trust you take care of my business?".

I'm not telling anyone to conform, but if you choose to go out of the box (and I do), you need to back it up with authority.

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I was a HUGE tomboy when I was a kid. I can honestly say, when I was little, I wished I was a boy. I ran around without a shirt on during the summer, wore my hair short, and had all guy friends because I thought girls were boring. I loved to ride my bike, climb trees, play ball (with the neighborhood boys), and just generally act like a boy. I hated dolls, hated Barbies, hated dresses. Many people mistakened me for a boy because of my hair and the way I dressed. Think Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. That was me. My parents let me be me. Now, as an adult, I am completely over my tomboy days. Once those hormones kicked in around age 13, I started fixing my hair, wearing makeup, and painting my nails. I still prefer jeans over dresses, but I have a lot of fun when I do have to dress up, shopping for a dress and accessories, and getting all dolled up. I wear makeup every day and I have long hair now! But I do because I think it's fun, not because I'm trying to live up to the media's idea of what an acceptable woman should look or act like. I enjoy watching the show "What Not to Wear" but it can be annoying too, because they tell women how they should dress, how they should try to look. If someone is fine with wearing sweat pants all day and they don't feel like wearing makeup, and they're HAPPY with that, then leave them alone already!

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My first career was working backstage in theatres. The "uniform" was all black with no logos or patterns that could show up under stage lighting when doing scene changes. It was very much a traditionally male-dominated field, and while there were a few female "techies" around, we all dressed very similarly to the guys: black t-shirt, black jeans, black boots or sneakers. When female techs came in, I always noticed that the male crew took them less seriously if their "blacks" included skirts or cute tops. Partly this is pragmatic - when you have a butt-load of scenery to move (which is dirty, heavy work), are these nicely-dressed women going to want to get their hands/clothes dirty? Or is there lovely skirt going to get caught up in the machinery? Also, you were not seen as serious if you couldn't act like "one of the boys". I can't tell you how excited we got when the three female techs were all rostered to work on the same show together and we outnumbered the boys. I seem to remember we used to talk about "girly stuff" (even tho none of us were particularly girly) just to piss off the boys. ;)

A year or so later, I got a promotion to the admin area, running the productions rather than working in the theatre. Same rules applied: the male techs took you much more seriously if you weren't wearing makeup or nice clothes, so you had to walk a fine line between "appropriate clothing for management meeting" and "getting along with the boys". One of my female co-workers, who had amazing fashion-sense and very cute clothes, once overheard one of the "boys" refer to her as "tits with a folder". :evil: Didn't matter that she was incredibly well-organised, motivated and great at her job, the fact that she was well-dressed, intellingent and in charge made her so terribly threatening.

My current workplace is interesting. For concerts, we must be impeccably turned out, in formal black dresses/slacks, which is appropriate as the musicians are wearing full-length gowns. In the office, the musicians dress very casually, so I usually wear neat, arty/funky casual and some light makeup. Our manager, however, often has to meet with potential sponsors and donors, so tends to dress more formally.

Unfortunately, human beings always make judgements based on first appearances - I don't think that's going to change. It's very much dressing for the occasion and the role, which I think really is what it all comes down to. Like it or not - I feel very lucky that my jobs allow me to dress in the style that I like - I honestly don't think I would apply for a job that required business suits and heels.

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I don't think that's always the case. I would consider myself successful. I'm no Hilary Clinton or Condeleeza Rice, but I have a college degree and a successful career where I make a very nice living. I almost never wear makeup. And when I do wear it, its when I'm going out somewhere special. I never wear it to work. I wear khaki pants and a polo shirt to work everyday (the polos are company issued and required) and sneakers. I do take a shower every morning before work and blow dry my hair, but I don't spend a lot of time styling it. Of course, my career is in a male dominated field, so perhaps that's why I'm not expected to be all dolled up.

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