Issue #98: The Beauty Backlash
Such a timely post for me. While this is not just about clothes - it falls in the same category. Recently, I got a pink keyboard for myself. The day I took it to work, none of the women noticed but all men passing by my desk took a moment to watch it and pass a comment highlighting the pink of my keyboard. Now I am on a mission to pink-ize my desk. It started with a pink pen, pink post-its, pink posters, I will soon get a pink skin for my laptop. Today I am wearing a pink blazer and nude pink shoes to work. 3 men have so far felt the need to call me some version of pink-y.
Had done a similar thing with makeup last year when I overheard a male coworker discussing how I am soo pretty but would look nicer without all the makeup I wear, behind my back, after a v important meeting.
Smriti's story made me cry 😢
I hope we all develop thick hides and endless middle fingers to give to the goddamn fashion aunties and uncles at the workplace.
Despite working in STEM in the west where this stuff is definitely lesser, I once had an older white colleague who was a lab tech who came to work in absolute tatters. And I just could not help think how a woman would just never ever risk the potential career consequences of being that way. For him, it was just brushed off as “Oh well, that’s Bill!” It was considered whimsical, almost endearing.
The double standard is absolutely infuriating. Not to mention an added mental load (a term we’re much too familiar with) plus added expense. Ugh.
That Telugu Pushpa song ( _Oo antava maama, oo oo antava_) kept playing in my mind while I started reading this.
Also, while reading it, I first thought, how could Suit be distractive for men and I answered myself by reminding of some instance in my early corporate life and some 'only men' discussion.
Then I think about saree, and I could dig up some other memory and 'distraction'
Almost any dress I thought about, there is something related to an objectifying incident that does come up.
Not hiding nor going to act too holy. Sorry women, we men are like this(I was too).
Most men that I know who were once like this are also accepting that they were wrong that time. And that's the only hope I can offer
Gosh! Some ppl truly have nothing better to do than fret about greys and grooming budgets of the wage gap victims? Thanks for this insightful and yea infuriating essay!
Lovely post and I could relate a lot to it from my consulting days as well! The additional time, effort and cost that goes into dressing yourself up for work takes away from so many other things women could be doing. As someone who does not know (nor wants to know) how to wear a lipstick properly, it is exhausting to have to learn about makeup just because the workplace demands it. Plus it is expensive to have a diverse wardrobe that fits the different needs and seasons. Thanks to remote work and few years of experience under my belt, I don't try to fit in as much nowadays.
What a brilliant post. And how I wish this wasn’t the norm. Thanks for bringing these stories to the fore, as always.
One of your best ones, Kavitha <3 I love the work you did in talking to all these women!