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Dress Code Discrimination -and LGBT community feeling uncomfortable

(82 Posts)
Usermuser Wed 25-Jan-17 09:55:57

The Guardian has done an article today about the dress codes in work places for women (heels, make up, skirt above the knee, blonde hair). As far as I can see, it focuses on the law, the health issues of heels and the fact that woman feel sexualised by having to dress this way.

And then there's this:

'MPs also expressed concern that gender specific dress codes reinforced stereotypes which could make lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers feel uncomfortable at work.'

Fine, I'm sure that's true, but many straight women feel uncomfortable with these gender stereotypes too! It's not just an issue of women being sexualised, it's that many would much rather wear trousers than a skirt, and don't see why they should have to conform to 'femininity' and wear makeup. These 'reinforced stereotypes' hurt everyone, not just the LGBT community. Grr.

For anyone who is interested:

BroomstickOfLove Wed 25-Jan-17 10:01:34

Are they suggesting that lesbian and bisexual women all have short hair, sensible shoes and trousers? And that heterosexual women don't?

GeekLove Wed 25-Jan-17 10:09:32

I know I cannot work in an environment when I am expected to wear a skirt and heel. The exception of that would be if the men are expected to wear skirt and heels to. This is not an unreasonable question to ask.

Usermuser Wed 25-Jan-17 10:17:02

Broomstick, that's the impression I got. The idea that woman might feel uncomfortable wearing short skirts is put down to them not wanting to feel sexualised. As if as long as they're not leered at as they walk through the office, it's all good.

ChocChocPorridge Wed 25-Jan-17 10:51:13

I think it was just to avoid mentioning transgender people all on their own.

GeekLove Wed 25-Jan-17 10:54:10

For me it's because I cannot run or walk properly in heels and if I had to wear them I would have to discard them in order to walk properly without further damaging my feet.
Skirts aren't at all warm for much of the year and usually have no pockets. Legging are tolerable but I don't wear tights because they chafe and give me thrush.

SomeDyke Wed 25-Jan-17 12:22:35

"Are they suggesting that lesbian and bisexual women all have short hair, sensible shoes and trousers? And that heterosexual women don't?"
You don't remove the sting of the attempted insult of describing lesbians as women in sensible shoes by saying that not all lesbians wear sensible shoes.

In my experience, lesbians who don't do femininity tend to do it in a rather different way to straight women anyway. It's the difference between not wearing heels, and wearing flats, versus wearing sensible leather lace ups. Between not wanting to wear a short skirt, or preferring slacks to skirts, and wearing a shirt and tie. And short hair as opposed to a buzz-cut.

From a footwear point of view, although I am of course totally opposed to heels (on sexualised grounds and the fact they are very bad for your feet!), I'm also opposed to many flat shoes that women wear -- for example, even flat shoes that basically only just cover your toes are also bad for your feet. The 'sensible shoes' crack actually makes it quite clear that almost no shoes designed 'for' women are sensible. And certainly not sensible in the fit-for-purpose way that most mens shoes are (I omit here the unisex not lacing your trainers nonsense!). Indeed, the only 'bad for your feet' mens shoes I can think of are things like winkle-pickers with very pointed toes.

Just looking at the women around me today at work, apart from the trainer-wearers (which is a pretty unisex trend), almost none are wearing what I would consider sensible shoes (apart from the other dykes!). Heels, pumps with no support, those bloody stupid ugg-style boots with no ankle support whatsoever!

I have to admit, in some situations I think I have it easier in that where there are dress codes, the missus and I often just wear what the chaps wear. And being ready to cite 'sex-discrimination' at anyone who dares to object. I haven't worn a skirt or dress since I was at school, and gave up trying to buy 'womens' shoes and just went straight to the mens section even earlier. Never wore tights apart from the woolly ones when I was little.

BroomstickOfLove Wed 25-Jan-17 13:36:37

SomeDyke, were you implying that my 'sensible shoes' comment was an attempted insult and that heterosexual women consider ballet flats to be sensible and comfortable footwear?

Akire Wed 25-Jan-17 13:47:30

Totally agree, it's not just about being a sexual object ans to be fair no mater how short my skirt or heels I'm not going to be anyone sex dream! It's just the uncomfortable physical pain-discomfort that some women's outfit cause that men never get. I hate tights so I'd never get a job where have wear them and a skirt especially pencil skirts are very uncomfortable they are made for women who are size 6 not the rest of us who put on 6lb before periods and bloat. I'd need about 4 different sizes to make sure I could actual zip it up all month.

I've never worn heels, no about of money would make me either!

GeekLove Wed 25-Jan-17 13:49:20

Why don't people comment about men in sensible shoes? I take it as a compliment. I smile and say' I like to run in them and not mangle my feet'.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 25-Jan-17 13:49:37

SomeDyke, were you implying that my 'sensible shoes' comment was an attempted insult and that heterosexual women consider ballet flats to be sensible and comfortable footwear?

I think SomeDyke is basically describing shoes she doesn't like and doesn't approve of women wearing.

The most uncomfortable footwear I have ever owned was a pair of Doc Martin boots. Bloody agony.

By far the most comfortable shoe and the shoe I can walk miles in is a firm ballet pump with a very low heel.

BroomstickOfLove Wed 25-Jan-17 13:50:54

I mostly buy women's shoes. Like these ones:

BroomstickOfLove Wed 25-Jan-17 13:52:04

As you can see, being designed for women, they are totally unfit for purpose.

ChocChocPorridge Wed 25-Jan-17 13:52:51

If it helps, I'm heterosexual and can't stand ballet flats either... I do like my snuggly ugg-type boots though - never had any ankle problems and don't do physical labour so don't find the lack of support an issue.

Personally my favourite job is my current freelancing where I wear whatever the hell I like at home, but from other jobs, the ones where they just issue you with a few polo shirts and you wear jeans are the best. I can't be doing with picking out outfits every day. In fact, when I had a 'smart' job, I just bought 6 identical blouses in 3 colours and wore them on rotation like a school uniform.

KickAssAngel Wed 25-Jan-17 14:00:40

It seems almost to be saying that the argument isn't valid if it's just women who are suffering, because we probably like looking pretty with our high heels etc. But there are some people (who don't quite fit into the normal definition of 'woman') who don't like stereotypes who would be emotionally uncomfortable as well as physically.

The main point is, surely, that high heels are damaging, skirts can be very restricting, and no-one, (male/female/trans/straight or any other description) should be forced to wear clothes that can cause pain and discomfort. Picking on one group and making them do that is discrimination.

There are many ways to insist on employees looking 'businesslike' without high heels.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 25-Jan-17 14:02:29

I'm glad you like them then Broomstick I don't. They are not shoes I would wear and they would not suit my clothes, work or non work.

The vast majority of my work shoes are from the shop below and occasionally kitten heels from Hobbs or Russell and Bromley.They are very comfortable, I walk briskly to and from the office wearing them, have no difficulty walking at length in them (don't know about running, I don't run); have been buying them for years and have no bunions, corns , fallen arches or other problems.

Pretty Ballerinas (

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 25-Jan-17 14:05:21

I do like my snuggly ugg-type boots though - never had any ankle problems and don't do physical labour so don't find the lack of support an issue

Not seeing what the support issue is. My bloody awful Doc boots supported the ankle and they were excruciatingly painful.

Lottapianos Wed 25-Jan-17 14:08:13

Yet again, we have to remind ourselves that we are not extras in Mad Men hmm Smart, groomed, professional dress code - absolutely. Stipulations about heels, make up, length of skirt etc - ridiculous.

I am a woman who always has painted nails and wears make up and perfume every day, but I would be horrified by being told to do those things by an employer.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Wed 25-Jan-17 14:12:50

I'm surprised that it's still acceptable to insist women wear heels. I've got knee and foot injuries so wearing heels is instantly painful for me and means I literally cannot walk. I don't consider myself disabled, but surely such a policy would be a form of mobility discrimination beyond the clear sexism?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 25-Jan-17 14:18:10

I've worked in upmarket law firms for over 30 years - (the kind that don't do legal aid or criminal work except the odd driving offence for existing clients).

Never come across enforced high heels or anything resembling that Portico list.
It may well happen, but not convinced it's remotely widespread.

SomeDyke Wed 25-Jan-17 14:19:02

"SomeDyke, were you implying that my 'sensible shoes' comment was an attempted insult."
No, not meant as such by you, the point I was trying to make is that the comment as originally used in common parlance was meant as an insult (and certainly not meant as a compliment!).

Think about why wearing 'sensible shoes' could ever have been meant as an insult? Can you imagine it being used of men? Ever?

"heterosexual women consider ballet flats to be sensible and comfortable footwear" A lot seem to (quick glance round office colleagues, although I'm going to get comments if I keep peering under everywomans desk!). The point I was making though was that it's not just the presence of heels that makes womens shoes bad for your feet, many of the flat(ter) alternatives are also bad. I'm not talking about womens choices here BTW, but the choices 'offered' to women as desirable footwear.


'court shoes' seems to be the term I wanted, for those thingies that stop just above your tootsies (ballet flats more trans-atlantic?). So not necessarily flat. But still not great for your feet (thanks for your lovely anecdotal evidence Lass, can't have you ever agreeing with me, can we smile).

And that's enough of a fashion lesson for this ole butch dyke!

Elendon Wed 25-Jan-17 14:22:27

I had to sell my Doc Martens (gorgeous, but not comfy). I prefer trousers and a sensible shoe for work. My top is always comfort fit with a waterfall cardigan. My 'makeup' is bare with no mascara as I have eye sensitivity. I will always wear black tights, despite being fair skinned and as I don't shave my leg hair, so it's 40 denier or more, which is why I prefer wearing trousers.

Why should women spend money on grooming products that men don't? This isn't equality.

GeekLove Wed 25-Jan-17 14:24:01

Meh. Court shoes are just one step above foot binding in terms of the damage they do in that they squeeze your toes but have no support over the instep.

My posh shoes are a pair of DM Mary Janes

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 25-Jan-17 14:34:09

(thanks for your lovely anecdotal evidence Lass, can't have you ever agreeing with me, can we*

Are you suggesting I am lying? I personally have never experienced difficulties with court shoes or ballet flats unlike the supposedly sensible Doc Martins which were crippling

KickAssAngel Wed 25-Jan-17 14:39:33

There have been many examples over the years of women being forced to wear make-up/heels if they want to keep their jobs. It tends to be in service industries. I believe that Harrods was one case. Air lines are also guilty of this. I think it's OK for make-up co.s to ask their employees to wear the product - much like clothing stores do - but high heels are really pretty damaging, and there are plenty of other smart options for footware.

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