Double Standards of the Dress Code

Double standards between the sexes have been around since the beginning of time, and surprisingly in this age of political correctness and fair-mindedness, it still exists. Who decides the types of clothing men and women should wear, how they should wear their hair, and what fashion accessories are appropriate? What makes wearing one item of clothing or a particular hairstyle wrong for a man but perfectly acceptable for a woman? Company moguls and religious leaders have taken it upon themselves to decide what is suitable for males and females, and people generally go along with the program in order to fit in and be socially accepted. They also conform to the mold made by society in order to keep jobs and positions in their communities.

The Work Place

Places of employment are one of the most common sources of this type of discrimination. Company bigwigs create standards of dress for employees, and quite often these dress codes are very unfair. Especially in managerial positions, men are required to wear ties, but quite often nothing similar is required for women. Females in managerial positions wear very similar button-down shirts but are not generally required to suffer with an uncomfortable necktie as does her male counterpart. Who decided long ago that neckties complete the professional look for a man? Will a man wearing a necktie perform his job more professionally than a man without one? Is a necktie really an attractive accessory anyway?

When working in the public eye, for obvious reasons it is important to have a clean and somewhat modest appearance, but why should men be required to wear certain articles of clothing and accessories when women are not? Female employees at many establishments can be seen wearing crop tops, cleavage-revealing shirts, belly shirts, and low-rise slacks. Many who don these types of clothing are showing off a body piercing or a tattoo on the lower back. Men working in the same establishments are often required by the company to wear dress shirts, dress pants, and ties. Why aren’t rules similar for both sexes? No, men aren’t usually interested in wearing the exact same types of clothing as women, but why should men wear uncomfortable restrictive clothing when women in the same company can wear virtually whatever they want?

Hair is also a subject of controversy in the workplace. For health reasons people working in restaurants and grocery stores must wear hair nets, beard nets, and secure long hair, but some establishments have gone as far as insisting that men with long hair have it trimmed to a more appropriate length. If a man is securing his hair in the same manner as his female co-worker, why should he be required to cut his hair in order to keep his job?

On the other hand, women are also discriminated against in the workplace. Narrowminded sexist employers wanting to push their beliefs upon employees sometimes insist women wear certain articles of clothing when men are permitted to wear blue jeans and T-shirts. Women doing the same physical labor are sometimes expected to wear clothing that is generally more expensive, much less durable, and sometimes very uncomfortable.

At School

Schools are also a source of discrimination between the sexes. Holes in clothing, even small holes in jeans, are often prohibited. Many of the same schools allow kids to wear low-rise pants that show the top of the great divide, but this great divide isn’t the one on the map in geography class. Although ripped jeans are sometimes fashion statements, maybe the wearer could not afford to immediately replace or repair unintentionally damaged jeans. We must ask ourselves, why is it acceptable to show the gap that divides the gluteus maximus, but it is not acceptable to have a one inch diameter hole that shows a bare leg?

Hats worn in the building at school have always been big no-nos. How many times over the years do kids hear the phrase, “Hats off in the building?” The same schools that prohibit the wearing of hats in the building quite often permit female students to wear fashionable bandanas on their heads. What is the difference between the two other than the material the head covering comprises?

In Public

Most men, no matter how much they dislike neckties and discriminative dress codes, would not wear a skirt or dress in public in order to make a statement, but back in the early 1980’s one man did. A very outspoken guy named Mel made several appearances on the controversial Morton Downey Jr. Show. He wore a trademark skirt and very long hair in order to make a statement. The statement he made was, if it’s okay for women, it should be okay for men. He wasn’t afraid to wear clothing that society didn’t approve of in order to fit a certain mold of societal appropriateness.

In big cities where people more often mind their own business, individuals are less likely to be harassed for being different. They often feel more accepted wearing clothing and accessories that are comfortable and “normal” to them. People who are narrowminded and preconditioned will not generally accept those who are different, and there will always be those who go out of their way to make nonconformists feel very unwelcome. Small towns where people know the business of their neighbors are usually more unkind to individualists and those who don’t fall into the male or female dress code double-standard set by society.

Do clothes and accessories really make the individual? We must keep in mind that good people don’t necessarily wear suits and ties, and bad people don’t always look grungy. A book must never be judged merely by its cover. Judging people or making assumptions because of the way someone chooses to dress goes against true religious teachings, but it happens all the time. People are shunned and scolded on a regular basis for the length of their hair and the types of clothing and accessories they choose to wear or not wear. We must try to break down the double standards created by society and accept individuals for whom they are and not the clothes they wear or how they appear in the narrow mind’s eye.

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