Women have the right to wear what they like, says university professor ANNA WHITTAKER
Does it matter what you wear to work? Yes and no. Of course, the appropriateness of our clothing depends to some extent on what the job is.
Someone who works with young children, plays with them on the floor, or whose job it is to help the elderly physically is unlikely to wear a short dress and heels.
In our modern world, where some MPs in the House of Commons don’t wear ties and Gwyneth Paltrow appears in court in a cashmere sweater that a mother might wear on her way to school, this feels like an issue that shouldn’t bother anyone.
But the question of what a woman should wear suddenly caught me in a global social media storm.
It all started a few weeks ago when I was in Puerto Rico for a meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society – an organization whose mission is to advance and integrate scientific research into biological, psychological, behavioral, and social factors in health and disease.
The question of what a woman should wear suddenly caught me in a global social media storm, says Professor Anna Whittaker
Anna Whittaker: I chose a Reiss dress, which is sleeveless and relatively short. It’s also pretty forgiving considering I’m 45. I also wear my best Jimmy Choo heels. For the reception I put on a chic jacket (pictured in said outfit)
As a professor of behavioral medicine, I had given several lectures and was preparing for a reception followed by a banquet and dance.
Proud of the work of my fellow delegates, I got ready to make contacts.
Since the temperature on the Caribbean island was very high and I didn’t want to dance too hot, I decided on a dress from Reiss, which is sleeveless and relatively short. It’s also pretty forgiving considering I’m 45.
I also wear my best Jimmy Choo heels. For the reception I pull a chic jacket over it.
For me, my outfit was not outrageous.
However, it was clearly outrageous for two men who walked behind me as I walked to reception. I heard them say things like “Oh, she always dresses like that” in a very derogatory tone.
I turned and looked at them in disbelief and they scurried off in different directions.
Shockingly, both men knew me, so they knew full well that no matter what I was wearing, I was good at my job.
I am a university professor working in physical activity, psychoneuroimmunology and psychophysiology and have won several research awards.
I am a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and the American Psychosomatic Society, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
That didn’t seem to bother the two men with their taunting, sexist and anti-age insults about my dress, or maybe that was the problem…
As someone of Scottish descent, I quietly uttered a Scots phrase befitting these men: “Awa an bile yer heid, ya jealous eejits.”
As a user of Twitter for more than ten years, who found it a useful tool for work, friendships and to stay in touch, I decided to share my experience and posted the selfie I made of my outfit for my husband had done before I left that evening.
I thought maybe some people in my research group would like it, or a woman who has experienced something similar could retweet it.
I never expected the reaction it had. The tweet was viewed 1.1 million times. I wish I had gotten this reaction to my research!
Maybe the reaction is because half the population is female and has experienced something like this and doesn’t feel good about it either.
Typical of the supportive comments was: “Women like you are inspirational and show that we don’t have to sacrifice our style and personality to succeed. Thank you for being yourself!’
Another said: “You are a lady of a certain age and an intelligent professor. Raise your own flag.’
“This is truly unacceptable on any level. I’m sorry!’ said another.
Inevitably, there were the odd dissenting voices in the sorority. As another Twitter user said, “Some women love to hate other women.”
There were also comments that the men might have been right. I replied and thanked them for their opinion and for continuing the prejudice.
Unfortunately, there is still a widespread notion that professors are older men with beards and glasses. But I was hoping that things would change and that people would be more aware that maybe a professor could be younger and female and not always wear a suit. Maybe they can also wear high heels and a nice dress and go dancing.
Why does it matter to others what I and other women of all ages wear? Is it envy? Is it jealousy? As long as what someone wears serves its purpose, it shouldn’t matter.
I often think that we are fortunate in science that we can, to a certain extent, wear what we like. But after what I’ve just been through, it seems like you can’t, especially if you’re a woman.
While some people are still struggling to shake off an innate, old-fashioned bias about what others should wear, I think they need to work on it, or just keep their uncomfortable beliefs to themselves.
Most of the rest of us, in our evening dresses and Jimmy Choos, make the effort…
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-11902831/Women-right-wear-like-says-university-professor-ANNA-WHITTAKER.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Women have the right to wear what they like, says university professor ANNA WHITTAKER