After last week’s delightfully sad post on telling a parent her daughter has mental retardation, I think we (I) need a more lighthearted post today. You know, exploring the softer side of Sears or whatever. I should warn: This post will not interest 12% of readers.*
I am going to talk about the world of school psychology fashion. It’s a topic that I feel I need to address. Why? Let me tell you a little story. And by “little” I mean really long story.
When I was an intern school psychologist in San Francisco, I was all of 23 years old. I was living in a house with 5 roommates and 5 different closets to “shop” from. It was a fantabulous time and I had a fantabulous wardrobe. Now, we have already established that I accidentally used to dress like a gangsta at school. I made many mistakes that first year. But I never told you all about my very first evaluation. It was surreal on many, many levels.
My supervisor from UC Berkeley came to my school to meet up with me and my intern supervisor to evaluate my performance on 8 hojillion criteria. We all crammed into my little janitor’s closet and began with the checklist. Gets along with colleages? Check. Knowledgeable about assessment and counseling? Check. Good boundaries? Check minus.** Able to deal with a crisis? And I kid you not, at that exact moment, the Principal got on the loud speaker and said, “This IS a lock down. Initiate lock down procedures.” This was our 8th or 9th lockdown that semester (bomb threats, primarily) , so mid sentence I said, “Excuse me ladies” and put up the “Green Light” sign meaning no one was injured in this room and asked everyone to move away from the window. Then said, “carry on.”***
My supervisor from Berkeley was a little rattled, I think, but we got back to the checklist. Professional? Check minus. Wait, WHAT? I was totally professional! Did they not just see my calm in the storm performance? What was that about? My intern supervisor, who was fabulous and totally spot on, cautiously said, “Um, sometimes your pants are a bit too tight for a middle school.”
Mort. ti. fied.
I look down at my pants and they were not THAT tight. I don’t want to give the impression that I dressed like Olivia Newton John at the end of Grease. They were totally normal pants. My supervisor continued, “It’s not that they are too tight for the normal world, it’s just for middle school you have to be a bit more conservative. I’d avoid skirts as well.”
At the time, I thought, “whatever, my pants are fine, I don’t want dress like a schoolmarm.” But the perfectionist in me did not like my check tarnished by a minus, so I started shopping at (wait for it) Ann Taylor. Yes, at age 23. Why didn’t I just go straight to SEARS? It was so sad.
I told you this was a long story. The men who tried to prove me wrong about interest level are long gone.
Fast forward a few years. I found this great skirt by Theory on consignment for $10. Ten dollars! It was a simple, black pencil skirt. So classy. So I wore it to my middle school (of course, with tights and a frumpy cardigan to disguise any femininity.) And as I left the building at the end of the day, I heard an 8th grade yoot yell from the second floor window down to me: “I’M HOT FOR TEACHER!” Oh dear. Another added, “I’D HIT DAT!” Make it stop. The cat calls continued, from the ambiguous source and I cursed myself for not listening to my supervisor. Minoo, wherever you are, you were totally right.
Now I fear I have gone to the extreme. I sometimes dress like I’m the second sister wife in Big Love. I actually have an ankle length jean skirt. My husband threw it away recently because it really was horrifying for all involved.
In my next life, I’m designing a line of clothes for school psychologists that are professional, attractive, but not too attractive. And now that I have written this all too important post about fashion, I feel like I have just told the blogosphere that I’m all that and can’t possibly hide my hotness unless I’m in a jean skirt. I’m really not. I just happen to work in a teenage hormone fest.
Maybe I should start shopping at (shudder) Sears.
*I recently took a gander at the demographics of the Facebook Fan Page (what can I say, I love me some data), and it turns out that 88% of fans are female. Quelle surprise. I bet that matches the demographics in the schools.
**I needed some. I had a hero complex at the time. It’s in remission.
***It was one of my students on campus with a gun. Neat.