After spending a whole month wearing the same outfit to work every day without anyone noticing, I no longer question whether there really is a difference in the way women are treated and perceived.
I recently came across an article online talking about gender inequality, and as someone who sees himself as a fair guy and a reasonable thinker, I didn’t quite understand how someone could be treated so differently based solely on their gender. I try to treat everyone I come in contact with the same — with dignity and respect. I hear about inequality all the time, but as a white male, I guess I don’t feel it because I’m privileged in many ways.
The article I read talked about the glass ceiling for women and the gender pay gap. It talked about how women are judged more on how they look and what they wear than on their intellect.
The article also related the story of an Australian newscaster that tried an on-air experiment on sexism: He wore the same blue suit on air for more than a year — and nobody said a word to him! No emails, no letters from viewers … nothing.
I couldn’t believe it! You and I both know that if a female celebrity wore the same thing twice, she’d be on TMZ the same day. I was watching an awards show red carpet event on TV recently, and it became so obvious to me: The women were questioned about their wardrobes and the men mostly were questioned about their films.
It was crazy to me!
It got me thinking, and I decided to try a little experiment myself. Would my wardrobe go unnoticed if I didn’t change my clothes from day-to-day? Or would I be called out the minute I walked into the office?
My job is in sales so there is something to be said for keeping up my appearance. But what if it was the same appearance? Every day?
So I tried it, a fun little experiment with my unknowing officemates.
One day in late August, I put on a blue striped polo shirt and black pants and blue striped socks, and I walked into work. Day 2: When I walked into the office, I expected to be called out immediately. Nothing. Silence. Day 3: Again nothing! I was shocked!
Day after day I got up and slipped on my “uniform,” as I began to call it, and went into work. And day after day, nobody said anything about my black-and-blue ensemble. Not one question, not one comment.
A week passed and still nothing. And I was floored nobody had caught on. How could this be? Surely I couldn’t continue for a second week unnoticed? How about a third? Or more?
My routine remained the same: I’d wake up, put on my uniform, go to work, come home, wash my uniform and get ready for the next day.
How long could this little experiment continue?
I have just 13 people in my office, so it’s not like they all don’t see me every day. Well, my “experiment” actually went on an entire month, me wearing the same thing to my office every day, and not one person commented on my wardrobe.
When I finally revealed to some of my coworkers what I had done, absolutely none of them had a clue that I had worn the same thing. Some of them still don’t know what I did. But I decided I needed to end this experiment after only a month because I feel I lack the stamina and the temperament necessary to keep the look going.
So what did I take away from this little fun experiment? My eyes were definitely opened to the fact that there is absolutely some truth to the idea that women are judged more for what they wear. Hell, just look at this stupid election we’re going through! How many stories and/or comments have we heard about Hillary’s pantsuits or her hair?
I hope as I navigate through my crazy life that I judge people for the content of their character, not superficial things like their clothes. Lord knows that I wouldn’t want to be judged for my damn blue polo!
Chad Mantooth is advertising director for Dallas Voice and a sharp-dressed man.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2016.