ERIC Number: EJ855268
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Apr-3
Reference Count: 0
Can't We Be Smart and Look Good, Too?
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n30 pB4 Apr 2009
In this article, the author describes her friend Lynn, a girlie-girl of the highest order. Lynn wears shiny, pointy shoes, never has a hair out of place, and can appear glamorous in jeans and a T-shirt. She puts a zillion products on her face, but never looks like one of those women who use too much makeup. Her clothes are hip and trendy, and always occasion-appropriate. She cared too much about her appearance, but she is smart as well. While that might not be worthy of note were she a corporate executive, in academe it makes Lynn a freak because she's a dean. The author used to think that her friend, the dean, suffered from a packaging problem. Lynn just doesn't look like an academic, even though she's a terrific dean and, before that, was an accomplished professor and lauded mentor. The author thought she's too shiny, too coiffed, too chic to fit comfortably into academe. For years, as an acquisitions editor, the author traveled to campuses, knocking on doors and visiting professors in their book-lined lairs. What she remembers most about those encounters was the ugly shoes--and the eye rubbing. The professors always took off their glasses (they all seemed to wear glasses) and rubbed their eyes for long minutes during conversations. They were in the clothes they wore to class, togs that a New Yorker wouldn't put on to walk the dog. The author also attended the annual conferences of a number of disciplines, seeing academics in their dress-up duds. There wasn't much difference. Men wore badly fitting suits, or ancient corduroy sport coats and food-stained ties. Professorial jewelry tended toward "interesting," which usually meant big, clunky, and inexpensive; there's rarely anything shiny on an academic woman. Why are academics so unattractive? Because most of them on the faculty do not have to show up for a job from 9 to 5 to meet with clients they are trying to woo, they are able to care less about appearing "professional," at least as it's commonly defined. Coming to class in disheveled clothes may even be a political intervention to show students that what they have to say is more important. Those who are better coiffed or groomed are thought to be somehow not "serious." The author wonders why there can't be a both/and rather than either/or when it comes to academics and appearance.
Descriptors: College Faculty, Personality Assessment, Teacher Characteristics, Dress Codes, Behavior Patterns, Social Attitudes, Social Life
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://chronicle.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Authoring Institution: N/A