Dress to Impress

by Rachel Remington

In the words of Canadian playwright Raymond Hull, “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” 

That quote really rings true with me.  

When I first moved to Bellingham,Washington, in seventh grade, all I wanted was to find my place in this rainy little college town.  I started dressing in the clothes I saw every other girl wearing, and I became friends with people who I couldn’t really relate to, and who put others down for the way they looked, or the things they said.

After a year of living here, I still felt like an alien on a foreign planet, trying to fit in with people I wasn’t really like at all.  Finally, I realized the only way I was ever going to be happy was to stop trying to be someone I’m not, and just let my true colors show. 

I stopped wearing Hollister clothes and straightening my hair every day, and started wearing whatever clothes I liked, some quite unusual, and started experimenting with hair colors (even blue and pink).  I also stopped hanging out with the people I considered “popular” and started hanging around people I could really relate with.         

The feeling of being comfortable with yourself and your expressiveness is incredible, and is the only way to achieve true happiness.  However, there is something other than trying to fit in that forces people to change the way they look, or restrict them on how they present themselves: pretty much every business in America.

When I worked at McDonald’s in tenth grade, I couldn’t believe how ridiculously strict the dress code was.  No one was allowed to wear any facial piercings of any sort (not even the tiniest nose stud), couldn’t dye their hair any color that didn’t look completely natural (not even highlights), couldn’t wear nail polish or engagement rings (unless wearing gloves all day), and couldn’t wear any jewelry of any sort. 

If you had any other visible piercings besides one piercing in each ear, you either had to take it out or cover it with a Band-Aid (which in my opinion looks way more ridiculous and unprofessional than having a piercing visible).

I understand the whole professional-looking aspect of dress codes to an extent, but I think in most businesses the dress code is far too strict, and restricts people from expressing themselves visually. 

I was told by someone who applied at the Hotel Bellwether down by Squalicum Harbor that hair dying of any sort (no matter how natural it looks) is restricted for employees, and to anyone who applies, meaning they are immediately uneligible to be employed there if their hair has even a touch of dye in it.

I know that it wouldn’t be professional to come to work with ten piercings in your face and snot-colored green hair, with tattoos covering every inch of your body.  But I really think people should be able to look how they want to an extent, when it comes to their employers. 

Part of expressing yourself is the way you create your appearance, and employers everywhere are taking that freedom and expressiveness away from their employees.

“There is no perfect beauty that hath not strangeness in the proportion,” said Sir Francis Bacon, famous English philosopher from the late 1500’s.  He really knew what he was talking about. 

Beauty isn’t about being perfectly normal and looking like everyone else.  To me, it’s all about being whoever you want to be, and looking however you want to look, no matter how unusual or crazy it may seem.  Props to anyone who’s already living that legacy.

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