You probably would’ve thought that telling women we’re going to be indoors, with no one seeing us
, for an unknown amount of time would let many of us off the hook of worrying about what we look like. But, as it turns out, the surveillance culture of misogyny exists even during a pandemic. This isn’t a judgement I’m passing on anyone. I currently have a pillow, that would normally be on my bed, sitting across from me on my couch. You know, so I can do ab workouts every once in a while between exhausting work days in my 500 sq. foot NYC apartment on my hardwood floors, as though what my torso looks like has any bearing on whether or not I am going to contract a disease that kills 1% of people who fall sick.
While I could blame myself for this nagging feeling that I need to tailor myself to external eyes that, actually, won’t lay eyes on me below my shoulders anytime soon — a feeling that I try to fight off — it’s much more productive to discuss the structures that create those pressures in the first place. And, for the purposes of this article, the structures that create those pressures for working women. They may not have to put on a pair of heels everyday to command authority, but they may be wondering if they should take a trip to the pharmacy to get more foundation or if they should wake up an hour earlier to dry their hair before the kids start their at-home school day.
Let me put it bluntly: people are dying and no one should care what you look like on a video call. That isn’t OK and it’s not something we should normalize. You shouldn’t have to dress up unless it brings structure or self-expression or joy to your day. You have bigger things to worry about. And I’m sorry we live in a world where we consider your concerns about your appearance to be as legitimate as your concerns about your livelihood.
To everyone who does it, stop judging women for what they look like on video calls. Stop tweeting about the women who attend meetings in robes or posting Instagram stories of how you aren’t going to gain the ‘Quarantine 15.’ Stop making comments to your direct reports about their sweatshirts. Stop thinking in your head that you’d never attend a meeting in a workout shirt or with wet hair.
And to the women who are too tired to care or who just don’t care, know that I am supportive of you and I am protective of you. You encourage me to put my pillow back on my bed. Maybe, one day, I will use it to rest.
This article originally appeared on FairyGodBoss. As the largest career community for women, FairyGodBoss provides millions of women with career connections, community advice, and hard-to-find intel about how companies treat women.