To be or not to be yourself?
Post feminism, the biggest dilema probably is whether you could be girly and feminist, or whether proving your modernity means you have to be less girly. Take this blog design for example. I had at first chosen a nice red background with cute, cartoon glasses, burgers and all sweet stuff. Slightly teenage looking. A girl walks by my desk and she is so happy with all the brightness. A guy checks out the newly set up site and says, umm you know, it is not so professional. And though I loved my red background, I had to ‘grow up’ and change it to this plain, professional one, lest I be confused with a frilly, fluffy type girl.
Has always baffled me, who made these rules anyways? What makes people say that staid and serious is the only way to be professional? Why are only black, grey, beige and blue professional? Why not purple, violet, light pink and green? If I were an extreme feminist, I would say why they are all manly colours, no wonder they are the only ones considered professional. But even though I am not, I still would consider that as a possibility, after all women for time immemorial have been trained to look desirable for the men (of late, for other women too).
Another thing I dont understand is this whole debate about clothes maketh a person. Why? Say someone cannot afford your regular branded wear, does that mean they are unprofessional? I once got a comment from a boss that people have a slightly leftist view that others should consider beauty to be skin deep. Of course, I could say nothing to the boss, but I wonder why? Shouldn’t basic hygiene be enough? Why is it necessary that the person should wear clothes that fit just right, why cant the jeans be a little folded at the end, the shirt a little looser at the waist or the hair a little frizzy? Does that make a person any less?
Having worked in the media for long now, I have realised some cliches that are expected and even enforced. Straight hair is one. Apparently its the only kind that looks professional, curly, wavy are good for college, not for media work. And you can only have curly hair if they are extremely curly, almost noodle shaped, then it is a sign of being exotic. Anything in the middle is a strict no-no.
If you are a woman in media, your actual age doesnt matter. If you are in the news or any allied service, you are expected to look between 27-32 forever. You better not look younger or you wont be taken seriously and well do I need to say why you shouldnt look older? If you are in the movies, you should not look a day older than 24, I mean that is the outer limit. However, if you are a guy, you need to look serious, looking atleast 40 is desirable, and if you can pull off a Richard Gere, salt and pepper hair, you are an instant hit.
But I digress, we were on being girly or no. Being girly, wearing bubblegum coloured clothes, means you won’t be taken seriously. On the other hand, being almost manly also means you won’t be taken seriously. Quite a tough rope walk. Should you pay on the first date? Well if you do, some men take umbrage and if you don’t you get told that you are a fake feminist who plays the equality vs. chivalry card whenever it suits you. Should you be ambitious? Well just enough so that you can be a double income family, the I-wanna-be-a-CEO should change to I-wanna-be-the-CEO’s intelligent and arm candy wife.
But let me end this before I start sounding bitter. The intention of this post is not to simply rant. What I am driving at is that for everything in the world there is a very narrow pathway and you are expected to stick to it. The boundaries are concrete walls and sometimes people sort of remove one brick and see a little bit of light. Those who fly have to always choose between the two worlds, he/she cannot keep shuttling or rather isnt allowed to shuttle. More importantly, one is hardly allowed to be whoever they are. There are rules about who you can be. But then there are also those for whom there are no rules, because well, they are supposed to be above them, no wait, there are rules that decide whether or not someone could be deemed above the rules right?