What a Difference An Inch Makes

I didn’t realize there was a problem with my dress this morning until it was far too late for a wardrobe change.

I must have shrunk the dress in the wash unknowingly, because it is at least an inch shorter than it previously was. As it was already teetering on the brink of appropriate work wear, this shrinkage has catapulted it over the line into indecency.

Okay, I exaggerate. No body parts are exposed that should not be, and no coworkers are getting an eyeful, but, at least in the work environment, I feel like the goods are on display. There is far too much pasty-white leg showing for me to feel comfortable in the corporate setting.

“It’s not like there are a lot of dudes in this office,” one of my coworkers offered, trying to be supportive.

Despite the catcalls this morning on my way to the subway (You have a good morning beautiful, etc.) and the anticipated taunts of the commute home this evening, it’s not so much men I am worried about, but women. I find this to be a common thread in my thoughts about body image, self-consciousness, and beauty in New York in general, and clearly I’m not alone.

While men in New York are certainly more fashionable (read: sexy) than the boys I grew up around in Needham (sorry, but it’s true), they are still clueless to the ends-of-the-earth some women will go to in order to impress them. Men just don’t notice the things we are supposedly doing to attract them. I’ve never heard a man comment on a woman’s neatly threaded eyebrows, for example, or appreciate the sophisticated chic-ness of a high-waisted skirt. (I like to think they just don’t care, and consequently don’t do a lot of the downright dumb things women do for their men. The ones I do subscribe to, I do for myself. But that’s another blog post entirely.)

Here in New York, I (and many women) dress to impress, but not for men, for other women. Women are the ones who notice if a pair of shoes is from this season or last, how often you wear your favorite skinny jeans before washing, or if you’ve trimmed your bangs, however slightly.

I’ve been staying in my chair with my all-too-bare legs tucked under my desk. No extra refills to my water bottle, and no long-way-around walks to the bathroom. Because there are far too many women in this office. Women that will without a doubt notice and reflect upon the fact that I showed up to work today missing an inch of my dress.

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