Why I Stopped Dressing for Men and Started Dressing for my Coworkers’ Teenage Kids Who May See me Over Zoom

Our society has dramatically shifted amidst the uncertainty of this global pandemic. Things that once seemed a priority, like dressing professionally, are now inconsequential. For years, I’ve wanted to stop making choices based on internalized misogyny and the male gaze of my coworkers. That’s why I’m no longer dressing for them but instead for the cruel and discerning eye of Gen Z-ers who might catch a glimpse of me in the background of their parents’ Zoom meetings.


Under our current societal constraints, professional women are required to juggle the impossible dichotomy of looking perfect, but never too enticing. Personally, I’m tired of being judged by how put-together I look during a 10-hour day of Zoom calls, and I’m ready to be judged by how closely my makeup resembles that of the cool teens on Euphoria. Don’t you dare comment on my blouse, unless it’s to applaud how I’ve perfectly matched it to my neon eyeliner, and also your name is McKenzie and you’re Stacy’s daughter.


Don’t succumb to stifling pressure to always look neat and tidy. When someone looks at me in a meeting, I no longer care if they consider me professional, so long as their teenage daughter walks by and happens to see the full rainbow of hair scrunchies adorning me like a little halo as I discuss Tom’s budget PowerPoint.


I hope everyone can join me someday in a place free from male judgment while simultaneously opening yourself up to cruel teen judgment. It’s liberating to exist fundamentally outside of oppressive patriarchal influence but absolutely weighed down by the sheer amount of butterfly clips on my head. It makes me optimistic about our future, one in which specifically, my coworker Rachel’s daughter sees that the only bra I’m wearing under this sheer top is the Band-Aids covering my nipples. True liberation is no longer caring about how your coworkers view your appearance. I define my own identity! It’s based entirely around whether or not Zora comments that it’s “legit.”


For once, I want the reason people stare at my legs to be because they can’t fathom how I could possibly walk in sandals so chunky. Imagine a world where women aren’t catcalled, but instead, Zoomers yell at you, “That fit’s flame!”


Since I’ve begun freeing myself from the shackles of how male society expects me to dress, I’ve been getting a lot of positive responses from coworkers like, “Interesting outfit” and also “We do still have a dress code, even over Zoom” to which I say “Stop capping! Now please get Lark and Dresden out of distance learning so I can ask them if this is the correct way to wear a bucket hat.”


Some people may say that many Gen-Zers are male so how is this really escaping the male gaze? And to that, I say “Yes, I hope they like my mom jeans. That’s what we’re doing now, right?!”


Why do I so desperately seek the validation of children a good decade and a half younger than me? I don’t know, I’ll ask Diane in accounting’s kids the next time they accidentally walk through the frame on the way to the kitchen. For now, when Diane logs on I’ll keep yelling “vsco,” which is a word that I do not know how to pronounce, but hope will eventually lead her kids to my TikTok page.