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Receptionist in 'unprofessional' clothes. Am conflicted

(84 Posts)
bagelbaby Mon 04-Dec-17 11:04:29

Love to hear your opinions as I'm conflicted.
Just dropped my car off for a service(decent car dealership- think free coffee, papers etc).
Was greeted by a young woman wearing heels so high she could hardly walk, a short extremely tight shirt and a shirt so tight it gaped showing her underwear.
It was all in black, so some thought about professional wear at work.
But it didn't feel right to me. I don't want to body shame. She has the right to wear what she wants.
But it just felt 'off'
I first hoped that the male dominated environment hadn't told her to wear it and then again I hoped she didn't feel that it was exactly what she should wear at work and had no choice.
I call myself a feminist and am finding myself conflicted.
I found myself looking at the heels and then spotting the bra. I thought 'Jeez if I'm doing this, then I guess this young woman is getting similar and worse all day from men?'
Love to hear your views

RestingGrinchFace Mon 04-Dec-17 11:09:31

The way that she dresses at work is only really the concern of herself and her employer (unless it really effects you as a consumer which in this case it doesn't really). If she is happy with what she is wearing (so hasn't been forced into it) andger employer is happy with what she is wearing (if the management is male dominated they probably don't realise how bad it looks) then I don't see the problem. If you really don't like it don't look.

AssassinatedBeauty Mon 04-Dec-17 11:14:43

The only situation where I would be concerned would be if that was a uniform that all the female receptionists had to wear as part of their job terms and conditions. That would be unacceptable because of the element of compulsion. Of course it's fairly impossible to tell if that's the case.

Otherwise, I don't really care what the receptionist of a garage wears, if she and her employers are happy about it.

GuardianLions Mon 04-Dec-17 11:38:17

I think it is okay to feel conflicted. Obvs if that is her uniform then there is a problem, but if she chooses it then (which she may well have done) then this is a grey area.

It can feel uncomfortable or intimidating, as a woman, to be in male-dominated place and see sexualised females - eg - calendars and porn up on the walls. I have feelings like 'this place is not for me - I am not their intended customer - I am transgressing a boundary by entering into this space' as a woman, in such a situation. Which is shit, because I should feel like I have a right to be there like any other customer. Luckily this is really dying out now.

If a female member of staff is over-sexualised in her appearance, in a way that seems like it is for the benefit of men, as a customer you might feel similarly alienated as a woman - like your custom isn't either wanted or valued.

I think there is also a pervy element that could make you feel uncomfortable - that this woman is living out a sexual fantasy as she goes to work, deliberately trying to turn on the male employees, which is a bit ew.... You want to think they are servicing your car, focused on their work , not doing it needing a wank iyswim.

doctorcuntybollocks Mon 04-Dec-17 11:55:21

I would wonder whether she'd been encouraged (or pressured) to dress that way by her employers, or taken on mainly because of the way she dressed. There's a long history of using scantily-dressed young women to sell cars.

GuardianLions Mon 04-Dec-17 12:22:24

or taken on mainly because of the way she dressed
Which is in a sense like having a living 'girlie calender', making the environment hostile to women customers.

Cracker09jacker Mon 04-Dec-17 12:32:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Elendon Mon 04-Dec-17 12:49:31

I personally wouldn't give them my money. I cannot stand such an outfit and would definitely baulk at a man who wore trousers so tight I could see everything and had a shirt unbuttoned to his waist.

Apart from the fact that I as a customer would be wondering if she needed help in walking and wondering all the time if she fell wearing such shoes. I can't be doing with that added stress.

Which reminds me. I need to book my car in for a service. Lovely receptionists. Male and female.

deydododatdodontdeydo Mon 04-Dec-17 13:19:22

Did you post about that @Cracker09jacker?
I remember a similar post in AIBU I think. Very similar - a male manager had asked a female manager to have a word with a young woman dressing like this.
The general consensus was that it was nobody's business unless the dress code didn't allow it, she could wear what she wanted.

BlindYeo Mon 04-Dec-17 14:49:58

She and I would not share the same interpretation of 'professional wear' but if it's her choice and her employer is okay with it I would have no problem with it.

Perhaps she might have put on weight recently which is why her clothes are tight enough to gape.

Cracker09jacker Mon 04-Dec-17 15:33:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CheeriosEverywhere Mon 04-Dec-17 15:37:03

F Scott Fitzgerald said The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

I think many of us would think exactly the same as you.

PiffleandWiffle Mon 04-Dec-17 16:04:53

I realise it's not the same but how would you feel if she was tottering around a pub in the same clothing?

I think it's different because there's a perception that she may be forced into wearing it. But she may dress like that all the time, her manager might not feel comfortable approaching her about it, he (I'm assuming it's a he) may love it! Hard to tell from a snapshot.

It's difficult, but you have to assume that she's capable of making her own choices as an adult & that whilst we might not "approve" she may think she's gods gift to receptions the world over & take huge offence if her choices are criticised.

bagelbaby Mon 04-Dec-17 16:16:42

So interesting to read all your responses. Weirdly it did make me, a female customer, feel alienated and that the environment wasn't comfortable. Also it detracted from her work. I was, as a previous poster wisely said, anxious that she was going to take a tumble on the highly polished floors.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 04-Dec-17 18:58:49

I would not make assumptions beyond she is wearing what she wants to wear.

I'm not convinced by the "she is dressing like this because she is forced to by her employer's" line. If employers have a dress code it is far more likely to discourage short skirts and skimpy clothes than encourage.

I found myself looking at the heels and then spotting the bra. I thought 'Jeez if I'm doing this, then I guess this young woman is getting similar and worse all day from men?

Possibly/ probably/ who knows?- but you would have to ask her whether she (a) notices (b) cares and (c ) likes or dislikes the attention it generates. And tbh I find that comment slightly creepy.

By way of example I dress in a way which I want people to notice - my clothes are highly tailored, unusual , expensive and not High Street. And it pleases me to be noticed and get compliments.

She may be, like me, consciously dressing in a way to attract attention (albeit in a rather different way from me).

Whether she is dressing this way because of patriarchical oppression on women to look sexually attractive at all times or because she likes it will I suppose depend on whether or not you think women are capable of deciding how they want to dress.

I'm a teeny bit sceptical about "heels so high she can hardly walk" - that sounds rather like the stock descriptor on FWR of any heeled shoe.

ginandbearit Mon 04-Dec-17 19:30:32

I used to work with a social work team working with substance misuse clients in prison . Our female senior social worker , good looking , big hair , very confident , usually 'professionally ' dressed , always wore short skirts and black knee boots and a thin white blouse when visiting prison. No male staff dared mention it - though we certainly noticed it- but the female staff were as op says 'conflicted' as to whether it was their business what she wore or what if any messages it sent, as she did not wear clothes like this on office days .

Nyx1 Mon 04-Dec-17 22:13:18

I understand the conflict
I would probably think less of it if it hadn't been a car dealership
Wasn't there recently a computer event where they had dancing girls or something? Can't help wondering if it's a workplace request.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 04-Dec-17 23:09:07

I'm not clear what the "conflict" is. I second
AssassinatedBeauty's and RestingGrinchFace's posts at the start of the thread.

I think it is okay to feel conflicted. Obvs if that is her uniform then there is a problem, but if she chooses it then (which she may well have done) then this is a grey area.

Why is this a grey area? What is grey about It? Female receptionist wears a skirt a feminist thinks is too short and is too dim to realise she is being objectified ? I'm sure that isn't what any of you mean but it's getting close to it.

Thinking more about this one of the secretaries in my department wears very short skirts and come to think of it quite high heels. It has never occurred to me to analyse her clothes in the way being done here. The men in the department seem to be capable of interacting with her in the same way as they do with any other member of staff.

GuardianLions Mon 04-Dec-17 23:16:15

"Her choice as a woman -she can do what she wants" intellectually, conflicting with "something about this feels seedy and odd, I feel uncomfortable and I can't quite put my finger on it" emotionally.

CheeriosEverywhere Mon 04-Dec-17 23:23:39

Isn't it totally obvious where the conflict is? We can all pretend that everyone can wear exactly what they want and it doesn't mean anything and it is individual choice, and one level mean it. But it doesn't take more than 30 seconds thought to realise it is far from that simple and the world just doesn't work like that.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 04-Dec-17 23:26:24

"Her choice as a woman -she can do what she wants" intellectually, conflicting with "something about this feels seedy and odd, I feel uncomfortable and I can't quite put my finger on it" emotionally

There are an awful lot of assumptions being made and I'm a bit taken aback at the use of the word "seedy".

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 04-Dec-17 23:31:06

Isn't it totally obvious where the conflict is? We can all pretend that everyone can wear exactly what they want and it doesn't mean anything and it is individual choice, and one level mean it. But it doesn't take more than 30 seconds thought to realise it is far from that simple and the world just doesn't work like that

No it isn't "totally obvious" or I would not have asked.

I have spent the weekend doing battle on yet another "there is nothing wrong and judgemental in marketing modest clothing for women and frankly some of the posts here are as judgemental in their own way as the posts flying the flag for "modest clothing "

CheeriosEverywhere Mon 04-Dec-17 23:32:27

Should you being doing battle if you have to ask a simple question like that? What are you battling for exactly?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 04-Dec-17 23:41:50

Gosh you are a charmer Cheerio

I have been posting on an AIBU thread where there are posters who think it is fine for Marks & Spencer's to be marketing a range of clothes as "modest"

I don't think it is fine to impose a loaded and judgemental term on what women wear. Some of the posts here are veering quite close to doing the same thing as the fans of "modest clothing " were doing.

CheeriosEverywhere Mon 04-Dec-17 23:49:31

So you're for women wearing whatever they like in any context, but against them having opinions on clothes and calling them what they like.

There are better battles to be had but you do you.

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