Let’s Not Pretend Anymore

After her recent loss in the election, Hillary Clinton appeared in public sans make-up. When questioned, she said she is done with hiding – behind makeup, hiding her feelings, her thoughts, her emotions. And who could blame her? Her opponent won after saying the most hurtful things to people of all stripes, insulting every group except his fan club – white males. The white women, also insulted still voted for him, shrugging off his insults as “boy talk”. Hillary, having thrown down the gauntlet, has issued a challenge to many – in fact her message is resonating with women in a way that her campaign speeches did not. For the first time, a lot of us are feeling an affinity to her greater then we felt throughout the year-long campaign. Can it be that finally we can say what we really feel? Can we finally stand up and say – it is not acceptable to comment on a women’s appearance. Ask a male colleague or friend: How would they like it if they received comments like “I don’t like your tie – you’ve put on weight since I say you last. Your hair looks terrible” etc etc. Are we then saying then no more social niceties? No, just that we want our appearance not to be part of the conversation all the time. We all know there are days when you feel like dressing up for your morning walk, and others when you want to be in your most comfortable clothes all day long. What is wrong with these choices? Women who never step out without makeup are reevaluating – do I really need to do this. Perhaps women, in asking for equality have to step up the game – it’s not a matter of equal pay alone, or respect for ourselves as individuals. It is also the right to be treated with respect and not commented upon at every stage.  Commenting to a female colleague “You look nice in that outfit” is out:  “Your comments at the meeting were insightful” is in. Women won the right to be in the workplace but it looks like we have not yet won the right to be treated as an equal- a contributing, able, productive colleague. In other settings, it is time to finally stand up to the catcalls, comments and innuendo. We don’t need that anymore.  It was not acceptable to be groped in a DTC bus in Delhi in the 1970s. It is not acceptable to have to brush away unwanted advances today either. We know when someone is being genuinely complimentary. Male or female, it is not ok to say “You have put on weight since I saw you last” to a friend.  Unless your friend is recovering from chemotherapy and is on the road to recovery. And to all the folks who think this is political correctness – no it is not. Before making a comment just follow this simple rule “Would I like someone to say that to me?” The Golden Rule is still a good one to go by. About women and their clothing. Have we gone too far? With baring bodies, with so-called fashionable clothes? How can we be taken seriously if all we do is draw attention to our appearance?  And yet our choices should not always be fair game. If someone chooses or does not choose to wear a bra, how is it anyone’s business – as long as she is covered? Let us give ourselves the freedom to make choices – not be bound by what everyone else might say. Clothes that are too tight or too short – seriously do you feel comfortable in them? Who has decided that it is ok to be uncomfortable, yet grit your teeth and smile? Wear 6-8 inch heels which kill your feet? We got rid corsets and stockings. How about going all the way? Yes and to bikins as well – are they really comfortable? Don’t they bite into you at all the wrong places? Try a more comfortable two-piece or one piece. Who has decreed that women have to be uncomfortable – and that is ok? There is a medium between too tight clothes and sweat pants – that’s the one maybe we should embrace. Even in our pretend play – let’s make it ok for little girls to not be little princesses all the time. Let them pretend to be kickass soccer players or swashbuckling pirates. Let’s update our children’s pretend play along with everything else. If this is the message of Hillary post- election, perhaps it is something to heed. Hillary – the smart Midwestern women who had to first change her appearance to be acceptable as first lady of a southern state. Hillary, who as first lady was first reviled for her health care plan – instead of being admired for her efforts, even if misguided . Hillary, who faced the humiliation when her husband the President was impeached – who stood up for her then? Would it have not been nice if she could have said, “What the President did was wrong – if he had done it as a private citizen, it would only have hurt his family. When he did it as a President, he hurt the presidency – it was an insult to the American people.” Wouldn’t it be nice if in the twenty-first century, a first lady does not have to dismiss her husband’s behavior as boy talk but hold him to a higher standard? Wouldn’t it be good if we all held each other to a higher standard? What is the use of calling ourselves educated and civilized if we cannot treat each other with respect? That’s a New Year resolution we can all make; a little thoughtful reflection and a resolve to watch our behavior and hold ourselves to a higher standard. It would certainly make 2017 brighter for all of us and make civil discourse a lot more pleasant.