Why We Do Not Wear Superman Jammies To Job Interviews

I have spent most of my life immersed in geek culture. Geeks tend to value form that derives from function, rather than the other way around, and place a much higher priority on being individuals than on meeting the expectations of others.

Many geeks -- especially girl geeks -- get very up-in-arms when confronted with someone who clearly wants them to dress or act in a way other than the one they prefer. They see it as pressure to conform, specifically pressure to conform to the norms of people who have socially rejected them their entire lives. Geek women also show a distinct tendency to be vehemently feminist, sometimes to the point of frightening onlookers, and any push towards conventionality risks a violent backlash of, "Oh, so you're telling me I'm lesser if I don't look like a supermodel? Maybe my friends like me the way I am and I don't need to join you and your vapid sheeple!"

(This goes double, possibly treble, for any of them who didn't start out with a look that is widely-acknowledged as 'pretty' in whatever culture they come from, for reasons both obvious and unobvious, which I will get to in another post.)

You need, firstly, to calm the fuck down. Stop grinding your teeth. Nobody is trying to marginalize you.

Secondly, you need to understand something. "Dress a certain way, please," is not equivalent to "Become a fashion model or die." When someone tells you to pin your hair up or wear a suit or carry an attaché case instead of a Hello Kitty lunch box to some important life event, they are not saying that because they think you'll be prettier if you look 'normal', and pretty is everything. Really. They aren't.

There are genuinely situations in which you will be judged by your ability to look like a supermodel. Being a supermodel, for one. Whether the standards models are held to are sane is a different discussion, but the fact is that when someone is deciding to hire you to look a certain way on camera, they are obviously judging you on how successfully you manage to look that way on camera. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. They tell you what the standards are right at the outset, they are up-front about the fact that they're judging you on your looks, and your looks have an obvious impact on the success of the work you do for them.

Everyone else on Earth is judging you for something totally different. When they look at the clothes you wear and the state of your hair and whatever you might have done to your face, what they are actually evaluating is your ability to correctly sum up social situations and to respond with the proper behavior, which includes showing up dressed appropriately.

And yes, 'appropriately' is a standard that is set by other people as a group, and not by your own personal opinion. It is decided as a group because humans cannot handle the thought of working nicely with all seven billion other humans at once, and so function best by splitting into groups. Part of the way we decide what group we're in is by displaying some sort of sign indicating membership, be it clothing or language or behavior. Not displaying these signs shows disrespect and a desire not to belong to that particular group -- translation: "I showed up for the interview in these Superman jammies because I don't really want this job."

This is also the reason you are supposed to wear black to most secular-ish funerals in the Western world, and not wear white to someone else's wedding. And also put on some kind of pants before you leave the house. Lady Gaga apparently thinks she's hot shit for walking around in her underwear, but the message that sends is pretty much, "I demand your attention so that I may spit upon your society," and frankly, no amount of catchy dance music is going to make up for that.

If you live in North American or most of Europe, then you live in a place where you're allowed to spend your free time wearing pretty much anything you want that doesn't leave all of your sexual organs swinging in the breeze -- that's part of your belonging to that large social group. But if you want a job at a particular company, they are going to want you to display signs of belonging to their little social group while you are there. So buy some damn work pants, comb your hair, and do your best to look like the other hairless apes at your place of business.

And if it still angers you, get your own blog and rant about it. That's what the internet is for.

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