The Glass Ceiling is Made of Cloth

Perhaps the most over used and under explained phrase of modern times is “The Glass Ceiling“. I don’t know how many times I have read it or heard it since the phrase came into being in about 1986. Frankly, I’m tired of it. If women haven’t managed to break through that ceiling in 25 years, then it is because it is made out of something other than glass.

Personally, I think it is made out of Cloth, or some substance like that. It is acknowledged that men still hold the majority of senior management positions in most of the workplace. Have you ever noticed how they are dressed? A pair of pants with the correct break maybe, a shirt with long or short sleeves, a pair of low heeled shoes, perhaps a jacket, perhaps a tie. That is pretty much it. Various types of cloth, to be sure, but lots of cloth. I can’t say for sure what women in the workplace wear. Less cloth, more bare body, probably. Less comfortable shoes…

When I was in High School, girls had to wear skirts in class. It was during the days of the Mini-Skirt, and all the males in the school were very pleased that the Granny Skirt was out. Boys had clothing restrictions too. No blue jeans, no sleeveless shirts. All the girls complained about the inequity of these clothing guidelines, but it didn’t make any difference. Our principal made the rules, and he didn’t seem to mind mini-skirts…

Since that time, women in many countries have won the right to dress the way they want. It was one of the hard fought battles of my generation, I suppose. It is extremely frustrating to me, then, to see women give this right over to the nefarious Fashion Industry. Now, there is a plot to subvert women, if ever I have seen one. What is more bothersome, is that women buy into it… figuratively and literally. It is not like my high school principal is telling them what they can and cannot wear.

It is bad enough when women buy into the notion that Boudoir style clothing can be worn to Wal-Mart or the Office. Or that TV and Movies dress women, even strong independent ones, in low cut tops and high heels. Or that hem lengths rise and fall with the same frequency as the tides. Or that all women must choose one of 5 pre-determined sizes (which are not the same dimensions for any two manufacturers). Or that styles change every season. Or that women’s garments are not designed to be easily altered.

No, what I find more bothersome is that they let themselves be told how they should look from head to toe, then they become very critical about how every one else looks. It is a vicious circle of obsessing about what they should wear, how they should do their hair, what make-up they should put on, how skinny they should be, and what female role model they should idolize.

Yes, I know there are other obstacles to women achieving equality in the workplace. But really ladies, if you can’t peacefully co-exist with your own body (just as it is when you hop out of the shower) why do you think you are playing on the same field as the men you are competing with?

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6 comments

  1. If they were being judged based on how they look in the same way that I am, maybe I’d be able to more peacefully co-exist with my own body! Overweight, plain women can succeed in the classical music industry much more successfully than in the pop music industry. But thin, beautiful ones still get more work and more attention. There is an assumption before they even open their mouths that they will sing better, play better, be more impressive on the stage. I didn’t get one of those bodies, so as much as I’d like to be more at peace about how I look, it’s a harder road than for my Disney-princess-lookalike colleagues.

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    • Your example is a good one of the inequities that occur when the perception of who is beautiful outweighs the reality of who is talented. It is wrong on so many levels. It would be the next logical barrier for women to dismantle in their bid for equal opportunity, but that won’t happen until women learn to like themselves just the way they are. It is not in the interests of the fashion and beauty industries to see that happen, however.

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  2. I guess I am getting too damned old to be up to date on such things, I thought a glass ceiling was one of those ceilings you could find with lights behind them in kitchens or one that covered your green house, if you had one.
    Seems like time is going faster than I am and there are over a kadillion things I don’t know about. Ah well, such is life!

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  3. Hi Margie,
    I really don’t take a lot of notice about what is in fashion for women and what isn’t. Of course when I was younger it was a different story. 🙂

    If the cloths look nice on me, and I am comfortable in them, then those cloths are right for me.

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    • I’m short, so certain fashion trends work well for me. When pants are short and shirt hemlines are high, I don’t need to shorten things!
      I’ve never been much of a fashion maven. I couldn’t afford it when I was young enough to think I wanted to look like everyone else, and by the time I could afford to be fashionable, I didn’t really care.

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