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Looking good, feeling lousy

A question occurs to me today on which I would like to survey my Gentle Readers (and their friends and associates and their sisters and their cousins and their aunts). On a day when you feel lousy, but have to go to work anyway—let me clarify and stipulate a bit here. By work, I’m essentially thinking about a day in public that you can’t easily get out of, whether it is paid work or attending classes or the church rummage sale that you volunteered for or whatever. And by lousy, let’s say something like the migraine, or a toothache, or I suppose menstrual cramps. Let’s take contagion out of it, because this isn’t about when to call in sick and go back to bed, but the kind of thing that you know is going to make you miserable all the day long, without preventing you from actually fulfilling your responsibility.

So. On a day like that, do you (1) crawl into whatever clothes are near the bed and comfortable and meet minimum requirements, putting as little of your miniscule supply of energy into the process as you can get away with, or (B) put on that special shirt (or dress or whatever) and put extra effort into your morning grooming, figuring that you need the extra energy over the day that you will get from knowing you look bitchen?

I’m wondering if this is a highly gendered thing, statistically, what with women growing up with more faith in the power of clothing, or whether it isn’t, because it has more to do with optimism and pessimism and so on. Or whether women are more likely to conserve energy, as on the whole they must have far more days like this than men do.

Your Humble Blogger is of the second set, the ones who dress up to ease the pain. But then, that doesn’t stop it from being highly gendered the other way, as I could just be an outlier (this charge of effeminacy is new to me, he said, arching his eyebrow). What’s your strategy?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


When I feel sick, no, I wear the comfortable stuff and just try not to look like I'm about to keel over. When I'm anxious, though, I'll take a lot of care with my clothes, since at least being confident I'm not mooning anyone and/or wearing two different colors of socks, really helps.

For me the big question is whether to shave, as shaving when I feel lousy feels... more lousy. But unshavenness on top of general cruddy-feelingness is likely to make women and small children cross the street at my approach. I guess I generally do shave in that scenario.

There's also this related but different question: when you've been sick enough to take a day out of work, and then you come in the following day even though you're still feeling kinda crappy, shouldn't you try to look crappy, so everyone knows you really were sick the previous day and not just, you know, spending the day shopping in midtown Manhattan? Perhaps I have phrased the question in such a way as to suggest a correct answer.

Huh. I don't even think about clothing in a situation like that--I just wear whatever I would usually wear, and focus more on caffeine and sugar to get me through the day.

Yeah, I'm with textjunkie. IF THAT IS ITS REAL NAME! I realize that using "its" is highly irregular (I'm taking an advanced grammar class this semester!), but inasmuch as this is the Internet, and not only the gender but in fact the actual humanity of any given poster on any given blog is unclear, I think it's a warranted usage.

Actually, I kind of hope that the Internet brings on a wider acceptance of the indeterminate pronoun. It would be useful not to have to make a freakin' political statement every time I refer to someone I don't know.

Man, that's exhausting! Or, you know. Woman.


If I'm going to be teaching (as I do 5 days/wk this semester), I don't much leeway to look schlumpy, so I'll sometimes dress up a bit more when I feel lousy, in the hope that my clothes will do some of the work for me.

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