Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Dress The Part

The hardest thing about working in a law office is having to get dressed up in a suit, makeup, and jewelry everyday.

I thought I would enjoy wearing suits. They're so easy, all you have to think about is what shirt to put underneath. Wrong. There's a whole lot more to the female suit. The clothes-i.e., deciding on pants or skirt, A-line or pencil, dark or light, and which goddamn blouse highlights my silhouette without making me look like the office slut-are just the beginning. Theres the shoes, the makeup, the hair, the jewelry. It never ends.

I put up with all that in the name of professionalism. I tell myself that clients will respect me more if I look put-together. But WHY? Shouldn't they prefer that I spend that hour in the morning working on their case, rather than trying to remove the clump of mascara in my eye while throwing foundation on my face while deciding on earrings, all while the curlers are warming up my head? Such is our society.

Recently, I read an article in Marie Claire magazine about a female MIT Physics professor. She said that one of the hardest things for her was forcing herself to not wear makeup to work, so that her male colleagues would take her seriously.


She was complaining that she was taken more serious WITHOUT makeup, and that bothered her? What I wouldn't give to be able to be that Teva and jeans wearing professional, judged for her work performance and not for her appearance.

And yet, she was being judged for her appearance, only in the opposite way I was. She was more professional if she didn't dress up, and I am considered more professional if I do dress up.

I could easily fall in to the trap of blaming the male-centrist society, the society that reduces women to nothing but pretty faces who might have brains if they look like they have brains, but it goes beyond that. Men are judged on their appearance too. Like it or not, the lawyer who dresses in a sharp, fitted suit with the shined shoes and the silver cuff links is more "professional" than the one who comes in dressed in khakis and a polo. The problem is that we judge people, all people, based on appearances.

Some may say that's not so bad. They say that there's a reason we judge books by their covers, the covers convey what the author thinks is a central theme of the book. Our dress is what we present to the world.

The truth is, the covers don't convey what the author thinks is the central theme of the book. They convey what the publisher, publicist, and managing editor thinks is the central theme of the book. Someone way back when decided that professionals wear suits, so suits indicate a professional employee. The employee that takes more time for his work and less for his appearance, he's not professional. Neither is the hard worker who saves her paycheck to invest and buys fake jewelry rather than expensive gems. At least not according to the publicist. And frankly, why should they get all the say?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Young Sexuality

When and how do young girls start getting messages about sexuality?

Today, I bought a lacy, low-cut, satin nightgown. As I tried it on, I had flashbacks to a moment when I was about nine or ten years old. I, like many young girls, enjoyed playing dress-up in my mother's closet. I would try on her high heels, wear her shirts as dresses, and sling a pocketbook over my shoulder as though it had always belonged there. On this particular occasion, I found a low-cut crushed velvet nightgown crunched in a corner of the closet. I tried it on, and it looked fabulous ! It hit me right at my knees, showed off the breasts I was just beginning to devlop, and, because I am practically a carbon copy of my mother, was the perfect color to bring out my skin tone. I stood in the mirror, stunned. I didn't know my body could look this beautiful. Suddenly, I heard footsteps coming down the hall, and I scrambled to put my clothes back on. It wasn't that I didn't want my mom finding me playing dress-up in her closet, it was that I didn't want her to know I had found that.

At that age (and frankly, even to this day), I was a jeans and t-shirt type of person. I didn't wear low-cut things. Mini-skirts were too confusing to sit in. Anything with lace or frills was just too uncomfortable. And yet, when I tried on this nightgown, I was aware, for the first time, that my body was beautiful. It hugged me in the right places, hid that baby fat that I was self-conscious of, and put my chest in a place of honor.

I took a polaroid of myself in the nightgown, placed it back in the closet, and hid that polaroid in a box in a bag under my bed. No one could ever find out, I told myself. I had been so naughty for thinking of myself as sexy. It was just wrong to try to look like that.

Where did I get that idea from? What part of pop-culture was it that told me that looking sexy was a bad thing? What was it that told me to be ashamed of how good my body could look? Why did I feel like I had to hide that side of me?

Whatever it was, it stayed with me to this day. That nightgown I just bought? The first real piece of lingerie I've worn since that time when I was nine. And when will I wear it? At moments like this, when I am home alone, and want to feel pretty. As soon as I hear my roommates get home, off it will go, to the bottom of the closet, until I pull it out again, maybe years down the line.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Facebook Enables Insecurity

Girls like to over-analyze. So do bloggers. Therefore, I can feel justified in falling into multiple stereotypes as I write the following.

Today, I noticed that despite the fact that my boyfriend and I currently live 4 hours away from each other and only have the chance to get together once a week at best, approximately 50% of the pictures tagged of me on facebook from this past year have him in it. That's grossly disproportional to the amount of time that I spend with him.

Why so many pictures of us together?

I recently read an article which reported on a study that found that people are happier with their relationship when they see pictures of them with their significant other. So perhaps that's it.

Another thought hit me tonight. I am going kayaking with him tommorow. While thinking about what to pack, I debated bringing a camera. Pros-kayaking pics are awesome. Cons-digital cameras are expensive to replace if damaged by water. Clearly the cons outweighed the pros on this. But I REALLY wanted to bring it. Why?? I have gone on a number of fun outings this summer with friends (strawberry picking, fourth of july fireworks, outdoor movie on the waterfront) where I felt no need to take pictures. But for some reason, outings with my boyfriend seem to necessitate picture taking.

Furthermore, what is my purpose in taking the pictures? Are they for me or for my friends? I certainly feel more of a push to publish my boyfriend pictures online than my friend pictures.

Could it be that I need to project how cute of a couple we are to the world? Am I that insecure with our relationship, that I need other people to see how happy we are? Do I need a reminder that my relationship is a happy one? Why isn't the knowledge that I did those things enough?

Am I so insecure in my relationship that I have to validate it by posting tons of pictures of me and my boyfriend? Have I really become THAT girl?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Does Gay Pride Have to Equal Promiscuity?

This past week was Gay Pride Week in Washington, DC (where I'm living for the summer). Pride was everywhere-the parade last Saturday, the rainbows decorating the outdoor seating area of local restaurants, billboards advocating for gay rights, and even a gay dog show yesterday.

I am a huge supported of equal rights for LGBT people. There is absolutely no good reason why two men or two women should be denied the right to get married, to adopt children, to file joint tax-returns, and get all the same benefits as married couples do.

HOWEVER. I can not understand why gay pride has come to be synonymous with free sex. Why is it OK to walk around shirtless, pantsless, or in the case of one guy, wearing nothing but a string with a coconut around his waist?

Let me stress, it is not the openness of GAY sex that bothers me, it is the openness of SEX. If a naked man and a naked woman were to have sex in the middle of the fountain in the park near my home, that would bother me. If twenty such couples were to participate in what can only be described as an orgy in said fountain, that would infuriate me. Now, that same scenario, different only because the couples are homosexual, has come to be taken as an expected and exciting part of gay pride week.

Another double standard: At the parade last week, I was standing next to a some-what rambunctious, probably intoxicated, overtly gay man. He was cheering wildly as the floats passed by, and whenever there was a marcher close enough, he would give them a little slap or pinch on the butt. I was a little put-off by this, but didn't dwell on it. I did, however, begin to dwell when he pinched ME on the butt. This is sexual harassment. Yes, I was at a gay pride parade. I was there to show my support for gay rights. I was NOT there to get pinched in the butt.

In New York City, there are signs all over the subway that inform the public that a crowded subway is not an excuse for unwanted touching, and they should report any unwanted touching to the appropriate authorities. Unfortunately, no such signs appear at the Gay Pride Parade, and people seem to be wholly unaware that touching strangers in a sexual manner is completely inappropriate.

The area of DC that I live in is a nice, quiet residential neighborhood with a lot of families and children. The neighborhood also has a large gay population, and many of my neighbors are gay couples raising children. One of my favorite sights is when I see two men walking down the street, holding hands and pushing a baby in a stroller (There are lesbian parents on my block as well, but it's harder to identify them if you don't already know them, because it's much more socially acceptable and commonplace for two straight women to get together while walking their babies than it is for straight men to do the same. Should I assume that the men walking with the child are gay? Probably not. However, they more likely than not are a gay couple, so I make assumptions.).

I must say that two parts of the parade were especially enjoyable for me. The first unit was a group of gay parents and their children, the next was a group of parents of gay people. It was incredibly heartwarming to see these people show so much love and support for their families.

Next time, I plan on skipping the naked people portion of the parade, and only going for the family portion at the end.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Living Together Via Skype

Oy. It's been a while. Too long, too long...

It's been so long that this post will seem to be wholly out of place. When we, ehrm, I, last spoke, I was considering breaking up with the boyfriend. Very long story short, we broke up, realized we really didn't want to be without each other, and got back together. What did we decide about the future? Not really so much. We will cross that bridge when we get there, and I'm sure you all will hear all about it.

The current issue. We make up for the fact that we can't be physically together by skyping. All the time. I get home from school, tired and hungry, and the first thing I do is skype call him. We talk for a bit, then we proceed to make dinner "together". It's cute. We talk while we make dinner, we talk while we eat dinner, we talk while we clean up from dinner. Then, if we have school work to do, we'll do it while keeping skype on in the background. After schoolwork, if it's not too late, we'll usually play some sort of online interactive game like Scrabble or Settlers of Catan. Then it's off to bed, often times with Skype still running. If we're lucky and the connection wasn't lost during the night, we'll wake up with each other in plain virtual view and start the day all over again.

I think you can easily see the problem with this. I love him, but I have absolutely no me-time. I can't veg out on the couch and watch T.V. because I feel guilty for not being with him. I wanted to write in my journal the other day, so I told him I was going to take a shower. When I told him that I wanted to call an old friend to catch up, he asked if I could keep skype on when I called her. He just couldn't understand that even though I wasn't going to be saying anything about him, I didn't want him listening to everything I was saying to her. Her business is private, if she chooses to discuss something with me, that doesn't automatically mean she wants to disclose it to him as well.

Let me be clear, he is in no way controlling about this. In all of these situations I would have been able to do what I wanted without him, he just requests that I don't. If I say no, he's completely fine with it, it's just not his first choice.

I feel like I'm living together with him, 300 miles away. In many ways, it's worse than living together, because I wouldn't feel so bad about watching a T.V. show while he surfs the internet looking up sports stats, I could go in another room to make private phone calls, and I could journal write in bed, before I go to sleep, with him laying right next to me.

I realize that many couples who live together face similar issues. However, they're often able to justify the problems they encounter by saying that getting to be with the person 24/7 is worth it. I don't get to be with him 24/7. I get to be with a computer screen that looks and sounds like him, but can't provide me with any of the physical comforts that he can.

Thinking about all this makes me wonder how I will be with living with a significant other, in marriage or otherwise. Will I be able to give up my me-time? Will I be able to tolerate him croaching in on my zone. Will I get sick of him? I love my current roommates, but I often feel like I need to take a break from them. Will I feel the same way with him? Is this normal and healthy? Will he understand this need? And furthermore, why doesn't HE feel the same way? Why doesn't constantly being with me bother him? Is that a good thing?

Sometimes I think I'm ready for marriage. Then I think about this post.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New City, New Foods

A review of some of the many new products I've tried since moving to New York:

  • Banana Snapple: Surprisingly not so good. I love snapple, and I love banana flavored anything, so I thought this would be the perfect drink after I walked four miles to get back home last week (It was better than taking the rush hour subway). It tasted like watered down milk, though. Conclusion: Banana drinks are better left to the milk-based variety.
  • Pretzel M&Ms: Surprisingly good. I had heard these tasted like malt candies, but not at all. I grew up on chocolate covered pretzels, and these are a brightly colored version of that. One complaint, because there always has to be at least one, is that there wasn't really enough salt for my liking. I'd suggest using a coarser type of salt.
  • Vegan and Kosher prepackaged "chicken" sandwiches from the organic market down the street: Delicious, though I wonder if vegans haven't had meat for so long that they mislabled the sandwich. It tasted much more like turkey than like chicken.
I really have never eaten as much junk food as I am right now. Perhaps it's because of the stress of law school, or perhaps it's emotional eating, but whatever the reason, these junk food manufacturers need to stop making new varieties of food, because I need to stop eating them!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

7 Days of Lonely

I pretty much love this song, The Seven Days of Lonely by I Nine.

I wonder, though, if I would love it so much if I didn't spend my first 3 weeks in New York crying.

My boyfriend and I had a conversation last week about whether or not we wanted to stay together while I am in New York and he is in DC. I've had my doubts about this relationship for a while, but this conversation really pushed me over the edge. I said I would only be able to do long distance if I knew there would be a definite end, i.e., when he graduates next May he would move to where I am. He said, he hopes that would happen, but he will always put school first, and if he gets into a better grad school somewhere outside of New York, he would go there.

I understand that, but frankly, it makes me doubt how serious he is about this relationship. I agreed to stay together for now, but honestly, I think I just agreed because I didn't want to lose him at this critical point in my life where I am so fragile that I need him to keep me from falling apart.

And now, back to the song. "I wish that you could hold me/through the seven days of lonely". It's a bit longer than seven days. I'd say about 3 weeks, judging from how long it took me to stop crying myself to sleep every night. I realize that I did not actually go through such a break up as described in the song, but I also realize that my "breakup" with DC is a lot less painful than a break up with a boyfriend, and so, it will actually be much longer than three weeks.