What the hell has happened to the way the average American white collar male looks today? If I didn’t know better, and just looking around, scanning offices and cubicles, I would swear that I had just landed in SLOBovia, no passport or visa required.
True, the number of studies, books, advice columns, etc. are virtually endless in stating the very obvious – that looks do indeed count. And not just first impressions, either. In fact, a recent book by Prof. Gordon Patzer ‘The Power and Paradox of Physical Attractiveness,’ states that not only is physical attractiveness a very potent measure of a guys’ future, but that this is a universal phenomena, transcending all cultures and countries. So what happened to the gentlemen at my office?
Well, this thinking is directly at odds with, yup, you guessed it, the ethos of our old pals at HR and EEO. One might say that to them, ugly for men, anyway, is ‘in,’ and plug-ugly is, well, even better. I’m not sure if this is due to the phony glorification of the grubby under the guise of ‘democracy,’ or a desire to protect the underdog (as if he were an endangered species). In many cases, especially where men are concerned, being a slob can almost have its’ benefits.
If a man has good posture, is physically fit, wears his clothing well and presents a commanding presence, he must be (let’s see) conceited, arrogant, self-centered, and – the worst and most cardinal sin of all – Macho! No promotion for him…not in todays’ enlightened corporate America, that is.
While women are encouraged, or even required, to look ‘professional,’ men are instead pretty much ignored in the appearance department. The result is that women in general do look a damned sight better, and are often fast-tracked for promotions, better assignments and the like. After all, such women can almost have a commanding femimacho attitude, a style that many find fashionable and in vogue.
As for the guys, well, you know the type; and this isn’t just confined to the middle-aged comb-over crowd, either. Hey, it could be any one of us. Flabby, badly shaven, nose hairs on parade, shirt ill-fitting and hanging out, shoes that look like they were shined with a Hershey Bar, baggy suits and mis-matched shirt-tie combos are the order of the day. Modern day execs. who look like they work, at best, for GlenGary GlenRoss. And get treated accordingly. Steak knives, anyone?
In the end, it’s really all about self-esteem, and how we need to zealously guard both our dignity and feelings of self worth. This is something we all need to do by ourselves, for ourselves.
It’s kinda like we sang in the Army, to feel better when dragging ass on long, hard road marches:
"…all dressed up an’ lookin’ good
we should be in Hollywood…"
And you know what? It worked, it really did. And it can, for you too.