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On Dress Codes

I do not care what you are wearing when you are lounging around at home.  If I see you out in a public place looking like one of the People of Walmart I will simply shudder and turn away.  But, for the love of all that is good and decent in this world, dress appropriately when you go to school or work.

I recently read on Facebook an article about a high school senior who went bra-less to school.  A male teacher complained to the principal that it made him feel uncomfortable, and the girl was called into the principal’s office.  The girl’s reaction was, naturally, to complain on social media.  A torrent of comments denounced the teacher for being a perv for noticing and/or feeling uncomfortable and against the sexual objectification of young women in school.

So…the teacher is a perv for noticing a female student isn’t wearing a bra.  Then why isn’t she a perv for not wearing one?

Her justification for not wearing a bra was: the school dress code doesn’t say she has to wear a bra.  Reasoning like that is the reason for dress codes to begin with!  If you can’t figure out that you should wear a bra when you go to school, then someone needs to teach you how to dress appropriately, because clearly you don’t know how.

I’ve been a teacher at three different private schools, and all of them have ridiculously specific dress codes.  These dress codes detail the necklines, fit, cut, and sometimes even pattern of appropriate clothing for work.  Some even specified that you must wear the appropriate undergarments.

At first, I was shocked at being told I must wear underwear to work.  Isn’t this just common sense?  I wondered.  Are there really people who have to be told to wear underwear to work?  My experience has taught me that yes, there really are such people.

They are the reason dress codes are so long and minutely detailed.  It’s because there really are large numbers of people out there who don’t know how to dress themselves.

I have lost count of the number of young women I’ve seen wearing leggings so thin that I can see their underwear, sometimes even to the point that I can see the pattern on their panties.  I’ve seen a kindergarten teacher show up to work sporting camel toe.  And yet people wonder why leggings aren’t considered pants in most dress codes.

If you actually have to be told that camel toe is inappropriate at work (particularly when teaching 5 year old children), perhaps you should find a new line of work better suited to your fashion sense, such as stripping.

In conclusion, do not complain about dress codes while amply demonstrating why you need one.

 

Sharpen the Saw

This is Stephen Covey’s 7th habit from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Basically, it means you need to take time for you.

My boss really likes to quote this, so I feel really silly repeating advice from my boss on my blog.  On the other hand, it’s a great excuse to not finish my work when I’m at home and I really need to finish my work but don’t want to.

Anyway, what Covey is trying to say, is that we need to have balance in our lives.  We need to balance work, family and social time, and our intellectual and physical needs.  Devoting too much of our time and energy to work actually makes us less able to be productive at work.

It’s illustrated by this little story:  A man is sawing boards.  A lot of boards.  The work is going really slowly.  It would go much faster if he stopped to sharpen his saw, then continue.  But he can’t stop to sharpen it, because he has so much work to do!

Our lives are like that a lot.  We have so many demands on our time.  I’m starting to recognize when I need to take a break.  When I’m grading papers, and my mind wanders in between every single question on one kid’s test, it’s time to take a break.

I also relate this to the idea of moderation.  Alan Alda (the actor who played Hawkeye on MASH) once said “All things in moderation, including moderation.”  His character actually said something really similar on a MASH episode: “If we don’t go crazy once in a while, we’ll all go crazy!”

I’m like this with junk food.  I’m usually pretty good about eating reasonably healthy: no soda, chips, cookies (and similar) or candy on regular days, and very little fast food.  And I try to avoid binge eating when I’m feeling down.  But yesterday after work, I went to the convenience store and bought Chips Ahoy, Kit Kat, and Pringles, and went home and ate them.

Splurging once in a while really can improve the mood.

I feel the same way about responsibility.  The thing about teaching is that in the classroom, I am responsible not only for the education but also for the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of my students while they are with me.  At home, I’m responsible for housework.  At church, I teach Sunday School.  Being responsible all the time sure is wearing!

So every now and then I blow of my responsibilities and go to a movie or something.  I feel the immediate pleasure of it and, the next day, ready to resume being a responsible adult.

 

It’s All Fun and Games Until…Wait, No it Isn’t

Why is work so much work?  Why do we have to drag ourselves out of bed every weekday?  Because work is just so tedious and boring.

How do you think about the weekends?  With longing, no doubt, but also something more profound.  My job is “what I do to earn money,” but the weekends and other leisure time are “my real life.”  Why is that?  Isn’t my job “real”?  It’s because what I do with my leisure time is what I want to do, while at work I do whatever it is I’m “supposed” to do, whether I’m interested in it or not.  And I’m fortunate to have a fulfilling, if stressful and demanding, career.  For countless others, work is just a way to earn money for the necessities of life and a little fun now and then.

But why can’t work be fun?  Besides “well, then it would be fun, not work.”  Seriously.  Why can’t we have fun at work?

Many employers try to engage their employees with rhetoric about being a “team” and how important the work is, but employees generally just listen politely until the boss goes away, allowing them to get on with the task at hand.  What would be more a more effective to engage employees at an emotional level?  Make it fun.

The company I’ve worked for that has done it the best is Camp Galileo, a summer day camp for kids.  Nearly every day at camp is a dress-up day, we make up cheers, and play team-building games as a staff.  It may sound corny, and it really is, but it also makes me look forward to going to work each day.  I get excited to see what crazy hats my coworkers will wear and to show off my own, or to make them laugh during a game.  Fun creates bonds between coworkers, relieves stress, and energizes employees for the work ahead.

Maybe your company is much too serious for such frivolity.  I’m familiar with such companies.  They tend to be rather soul-killing.  If you work at such a place, I encourage you: add a little fun.

What do you think about the role of fun in the workplace?  Add your own opinion and/or anecdotes in the comments below!