Saturday, April 18, 2015

Professionalism and Oppression

Early in the life of this blog, I was trying to focus on being "adultish" -- which included some fashion and lifestyle tips and musings that reflected on acting more mature and professional. But lately, I've been wondering, what does that even mean?

At some point not too long ago, I was introduced to a site called Dress Profesh, which comes with the tagline "challenging notions of what it means to look 'professional.'" It shows people of all different sizes, races, and genders wearing what they work in. It really snaps into focus the fact that being "professional" is an arbitrary and often oppressive guideline.

A post was just going around a few days ago in which a college senior was rejected from a tech job because the guys that interviewed her claimed her outfit was more for "clubbing" than interviewing. There are plenty of people out there who think her tasteful top, skirt, sweater, and tights outfit is "unprofessional" because it's not a suit, ignoring the fact that tech companies are usually pretty casual, and in fact, overdressing too much can make an interviewee look out of touch with the culture of their field.

Regardless, insisting that everyone on the job hunt wear a suit is one of those oppressive things about the notion of professionalism that I take issue with. Suits are expensive. If you're long-unemployed, or you're a college student just starting out, even a find at Marshall's or a thrift store can be out of your budget. Plus, if you don't wear a straight size, or you are a woman with a large chest, it might be impossible to find anything that will even cover your body -- let alone fit well and be without cleavage -- especially when price is a dire concern. Additionally, if you are fat or busty (or both, like I am), there are some who will always classify you as unprofessional. No matter what you wear, being too fat will likely get you called sloppy, and simply having a large chest will get you classed as sexy or inappropriate.

There are racial implications, as well. Black people are often maligned for having natural hairstyles like Afros or dreadlocks -- women are generally expected to relax their hair and wear it straight, or wear a weave, to look "professional," for example. That is, if they even get an interview to begin with, since people with white/European sounding names are more likely to get called than someone with a more "ethnic" (for lack of a better word) names.

The idea of professionalism is outdated and ridiculous. It should be enough to say, perhaps, make sure you are wearing anything required for safety, your naughty bits are covered, you don't smell, and you aren't wearing hate speech symbols. Anything beyond that is unnecessary, and upholds a white supremacist, cisnormative, heteronormative, sexist, sizeist, kyriarchical structure.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Fashion: Claws


There's something comfy-casual but still fun about this cape. I'd like it more in a different print (I have issues with it being called "Aztec") but the shape is great. And that t-shirt is too fun for words.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Studying the (Relatively) Unstudied

I need to find an adviser.

My school assigned one to me, of course, but I have to have a second. An external adviser, to help with the subject matter of my dissertation. See, I'm in an interdisciplinary field -- Information Studies -- and part of my program involves taking courses in a co-related area, in addition to the external adviser search.

So what's the problem? Why can't I just ask one of my sociology professors to do it?

I could, technically. But none of the classes I'm taking is exactly where I want to focus my research. I want to write my dissertation on the fat acceptance movement, but classes that address it pretty much do not exist, so I've been taking sociology classes that relate to other areas of marginalization that intersect with the body. I took sociology of power last summer, I'm taking race and ethnicity right now, and I will take sociology of gender this coming summer.

The soci of power professor was just this side of hostile about my doing my final project on the size acceptance movement, on top of the time she announced to the class off-hand that she was putting an appetite suppressant in her water bottle. So that's definitely not going to work. My current professor is much better, and was extremely receptive to my doing my final paper on race and body image. I really like her and the class, but her research areas aren't close to my interests for this project at all.

My last hope for finding someone in these classes will be the gender course this summer. If that professor doesn't work, I'm sort of at a loss. I guess I'll have to try and find someone in the area that does focus on fat studies or something related to that and meets the qualifications for being an external adviser (I have to find out exactly what those are).

I have until winter to do so, but I'd like to get the person lined up as soon as I can, if for no reason other than to lift the stress off myself.