The Importance of Image – Or Not
By Michelle Porchia
When I was growing up, I was taught that image is extremely important. How people see you starts how they treat you. I learned from a well-known speaker that a person is judged by the first glimpse that someone has of you and then the first 12 words out of your mouth. If that is the case, what image are we portraying and what image do we want others to judge us by?
The Met Gala* was the talk on all the news programs in early May 2015. What was interesting is that they didn’t really talk about the purpose or importance of the Gala; what they talked about was the seemingly new theme of who could show the most skin. Granted, the Gala is known for its outrageous costumes. It is, however, a fundraiser and I think a little decorum is needed. The theme was “China: Through the Looking Glass.” Interestingly, some of the costumes were Japanese and Korean themed, not even Chinese. Perhaps some people needed a lesson in the differences of Asian culture. Furthermore, I read several articles written by Chinese writers who thought the Gala showed racism and disrespect. One celebrity carried a purse in the shape of a china doll. “The blunt bangs, the round face, the rosy cheeks and monolids are so pronounced that the poor doll can't even open its eyes, apparently. Because a Chinese girl can't have big round eyes, huh? It's like the haute couture version of a politically incorrect Barbie doll.” The writer also pointed out, “the sexed up version of a qipao is that it perpetuates the stereotype that Chinese women are "exotic, subservient sluts.” (Fashionista - Fawnia Soo Hoo)
During the red carpet at the Oscars, the focus is all about “who are you wearing,” not that the actors, writers, directors, etc., are there to hopefully win an award for their hard work. There is a little more elegance at the Oscars but for a while, it was becoming a competition for showing skin as well.
Women in videos are called not-so-nice names because they are scantily clad and gyrate. Yet young girls watch these videos and unfortunately model the image they see because they think it gets them attention. It does, but is it the attention they want and deserve?
TV shows and movies have shown business women in suits with no blouses, skirts so short they never sit or are seated behind a desk and six inch heels. Why are we surprised that people actually dress like this when they come to work?
Bringing back the importance of image to the grass roots level, we need to reassess how we want women to be viewed. What image do we want our young girls to aspire to and project? I was working with a group of college girls and a few of them didn’t understand why they were getting feedback that they were inappropriately dressed for the office. Their supervisors felt that they were dressing for the club rather than for the corporate arena. One young lady said she needed to find a job in an environment that she felt she fit in. She was one of the young women that received feedback about inappropriate dress. Corporate America has also swung the other direction; many have very casual environments now.
When I started in the working world, I was told two things about dressing for Corporate America: 1) Dress for the position you aspire to attain; and 2) You don’t want people to focus on what you have on but what you bring to the table. I’m not saying that we should dress in sack cloths. I am saying we can be classy, elegant, and even sexy without being almost naked.
I think we need to reassess what message we are sending as women and what do we want to be remembered for…our skin showing through the little bit of material we wear or the value we bring to the workplace and to the world?
*What Is The Met Gala??
The Met Gala, formally called the Costume Institute Gala and also known as the Met Ball, is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City. It marks the grand opening of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit. Each year's event celebrates the theme of that year's Costume Institute exhibition, and the exhibition sets the tone for the formal dress of the night since guests are expected to choose their fashion to match the theme of the exhibit. Each year the event also has honorary celebrity event day chairpersons.
This year's theme was China.
The most recent event was held on May 4, 2015
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