Monday, 14 June 2010

The Casual Cruelty of Debarahlee

This young lady has a lawyer who figures he can get her a decent payout from Citibank because they told her she shouldn't wear clothes like these she's pictured in. The other female staff weren't given attire guidelines because, she says, "they were short, overweight, and they didn't draw much attention, but since I was five foot six, 125 pounds with a figure, it wasn't appropriate".

I'm not going to comment on the lawsuit. What's interesting is her remark about the other women. It's an accurate description of them: it's an accurate description of most women in offices. But is it me, or is there a casual cruelty about it when it comes from someone so clearly above the Pretty Line?

This is connecting with a thing I'm writing where two of the characters are discussing clothes.

ADAM: What about the guy in the baggy cargo shorts and sandals walking round the supermarket? What's he signifying?

LUCIE: That he has no taste, or he wouldn't be wearing shorts, and no manners, or he wouldn't be wearing sandals around food.

ADAM: So why do people dress like that?

LUCIE: No-one really knows. And fewer people care. Harsh truth? If you're above the Pretty Line, you just will dress becomingly, and if you're below it, nothing you wear will look good. Also, the High Street is full of cheap junk and very few people would take to time to thrift a blazer like you did.

The way I've written it, it's not coming across as a "harsh truth". If it did, I wouldn't have to call it one. Maybe it should be...

ADAM: So why do people dress like that?

LUCIE: You're assuming they could wear something that would make them look good.

ADAM: I didn't know I was, but now you put it that way, there isn't?

LUCIE: Clothes don't make people look better, people make clothes look better. People are born pretty or not. I was. You were. They weren't. Those are the breaks.

ADAM: And somewhere in their heads they know this and stop bothering?

LUCIE: And, to be professional for a moment, High Street shops are full of made-in-Honduras junk with twisted seams. Which is what happens when everyone buys on price.

ADAM: I buy on price.

LUCIE: That blazer might have been cheap, but you spent a long time thrifting for it. You have an eye. You're one of us.

(You have no idea how many different options I tried before that.)

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