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,
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
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
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.
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about Dr. Molly Barrow.
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