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What’s Your Burka?

By Dr. Molly Barrow

Do you ever think about the artificial limits that individuals allow a society to put on them? Most blacks in America would agree there is a ceiling, a prejudice prism that blocks all but the color white in many business and social arenas. Women in Muslim countries suffer harshly from male dominance, and are expected to wear head scarves in Turkey and burkas in Afghanistan. Some women say, in front of their husbands, that they prefer to wear a burka to prevent ogling by men.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but stares will never hurt you. Muffled hearing, restricted vision and poor maneuverability from the heavy hot tents are not so different than Japanese foot binding, Victorian corsets or huge powdered wigs in London. Yearning for the simplistic uniforms of Mao’s China yet?

Let’s think about this in more personal terms. How do you allow others to dictate and design your short life on Earth? How far do you go in your dress to be considered good enough or deemed “appropriate?” Do you curl your eyelashes carefully and coat them with toxic tar? Do you squeeze your hard working toes into pointed high heels that cause bunions and back aches to grow? Do you take a colored piece of material and tie it intricately in a neck bulge like a turkey’s wattle? Do you wear a wool blend jacket at work in the heat of summer? Surely these behaviors appear ridiculous and odd to all uncivilized societies.

I understand why we brush and floss our teeth after eating. Athletic shoes are a great boon to our exercise program. But society loves to dictate to others old left over behaviors that are simply ridiculous.

For example, let’s say a female writer must go out on an interview. Many would agree the writer’s the stay-at-home uniform consists of pajama pants, a worn, soft, Pima cotton t-shirt, flip flops and a sweatshirt. The process of changing into a corporate person is lengthy and uncomfortable. Starting at the bottom, we begin with polished toenails hobbling in spiky heels, constrictive nylons squeezing one’s blood flow to a trickle, a panty-line-free thong, and a skirt that requires one’s knees to be glued together when bending, removing one's carcass from a car, or sitting in a deep chair. This is an impossible task and eventually earns one the reputation of a Sharon Stone flasher.

My Goodness! We are only dressed waist high. Continuing on, take the bra. It is not comfortable and has been indicated in breast cancer rumors. Desperately worried that our breasts will not be considered pert enough if allowed to be free, we bind them in elastic, micro fiber, and plastic. A shirt is necessary to cover up what we have just worked so hard to lift, wrap, and present. Now, hang metals, trinkets, and rocks from your neck, wrist, and fingers and through the punched holes in your earlobes so that you can call attention to each body part’s loveliness. Next, don the jacket, just like the boys, so you can sweat, too. Add shoulder pads to improve your power statement.

Wait, you cannot go out with just your face. You must paint it first. Nine layers of toxic chemicals will be sufficient: moisturizer, base, powder, shadow, eyeliner, lip liner, lipstick, and gloss. Do not forget sun block. Your hair has also been cut, colored, highlighted, straightened (just in case you look too ethnic), then sprayed and glossed. Are we ready, yet?

A mist of perfume will help to mask the sweat and toxic skin cell smell. Sling a heavy cowhide sack on your shoulder, carrying your survival equipment necessary for the next two hours, and lift a briefcase with the other hand. Oh, don't you look burkaed.

The elaborate and often painful dress code of corporate America is archaic and punishing for females and silly sweaty for males. Would forest killing, cruel animal torturers and just plain nasty people chill with a change of wardrobe? Or too terrified that a member of the Appropriate Behavior Club might find their casual dress too sophomoric, do business persons conform and join in with scorning the hippy-type rebels who indulge in “business casual.”

Tomorrow morning you will stand in the harsh light of your closet, faced with sludging your way through the ritual of looking “nice” once again? Or, perhaps, will your heart rebel as you fantasize about escaping to mountain tops, white sand beaches or a fishing boat where you are free, free to wear cotton. Choose bravely to be burkaless, if you can.

Read other articles and learn more about Dr. Molly Barrow.

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