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Professional dress


Mim

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I assumed something like this had to have been asked here at some point, but my searches haven't turned up anything, so here goes.

Do you all think it's rude to go out in public with scars showing? Is that inconsiderate of others? I can't quite bring myself to leave the house without some sort of cover in place; not because I'm ashamed, or because I couldn't handle being questioned, but because some of my scars are ugly, prominent, and obviously not accidental. It seems like asking for a lot from other people, even the random strangers at Safeway. I'm aware it's none of anyone else's business, but at the same time I can't quite bring myself to go anywhere "naked."

On this same topic, I'm a utility company dispatcher, which is pretty much like back office work. Our dress code is pretty relaxed. We are outsourced, so there's very little public interaction, and all that is over the phone. I'm almost sure my coworkers wouldn't say anything, or report me to corporate, if I didn't cover up, but again, I hesitate. It really sucks to be a frigging people pleaser. Anyway, is this unprofessional, do you guys think?

I really did search for a thread like this. If it's been covered before, maybe someone would point me to a link? As always, thanks.

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I don't think it's a matter of professional or not, but what you're comfortable with. Just as people with a visible disability - the scar, the disability, etc. has nothing to do with how professional you behave.

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I say check with your supervisor. If they're ok with it, then don't worry about it. If they say to keep it covered than do so. Whether it's right or not, this will cause the least amount of problems.

As for going out in public, it's best to do whatever makes *you* comfortable.. not anyone else. You have to weigh not wanting to bother someone vs what you want to do.

I don't think it's rude.

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Guest Vapourware

There probably was a thread about this earlier, topic seems vaguely familiar. Anyways, I think it's a good idea to ask the supervisor for their opinion, but ultimately it's your choice. There's nothing unprofessional about something you couldn't help. I guess, however, that you have to think of the emotional impact the scars may have on other people. You'll have to work out a way of dealing with those reactions.

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Mine are never covered, mostly becasue I can't be asked to to cover them up all the time. The only time they are covered is when I have recently cut.....I have been asked about the cuts last week which was embrassing tbh. But it it a part of life and the woman who asked was two girls in my law class so I wasn't to borthered.

I think you need to speak to your supiviour

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My personal inclination is to just keep them covered. Some people at work know they're there, because I was in the bathroom washing my hands and some of my coworkers came in. I'm sure by now everyone knows. I also know the supe would freak. She's really conservative. She gives one of my coworkers a hard time because he wears his hair long. I doubt I'll ever bring it up.

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At work, if it's feasible, I'd say keep them covered up. Perceptions of professionalism should only be about how well you do your job, but unfortunately, they often have a lot to do with how you look.

As far as the rest of the time, IDK. I kind of want to encourage you to maybe try being a little less self conscious, and experiment with going to the grocery store, or wherever, a little less covered up. It takes some pretty serious disfigurement to pull most people out of their own self-involvement, so I doubt you'd get the reaction you're expecting. Depending on where your scars are, maybe you could start out a little less covered up, wearing maybe a t-shirt, and bring along a sweater, so you can cover up quickly if you start feeling uncomfortable?

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I don't find it rude at all, if you are willing to deal with the odd person coming up to you and asking if you're okay and stuff then you should be fine. Once I went 'cold turkey' when I had to pick up a prescription of meds and the pharmacist came upto me and started talking about self harm and therapy, I was just like 'yeah i'm in therapy but thanks for the concern' so i've avoided going out like that so I don't need to deal with people approaching me again.

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I'm inclined to say do what you feel comfortable with. But I do know of someone who cuts and it got out at work. It changed the relationships there.

I personally don't think it's rude to show the scars, but we don't know what others might feel. I have a scar on my neck from an operation and people see that. I wish there was some equality ... you know a scar is a scar is a scar no matter how you got it.

Take care.

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You're not responsible for other peoples prejudices and perceptions. If people feel upset or triggered by it, or are forced to have a discussion with their kids who have seen it, that's their stuff. Bear in mind though that it is you who will bear the brunt of that awkwardness, and if you feel sensitive about it, it might just be best to cover up. It's not about shame but about what you're prepared to take on in interactions with other people. If you reveal them at work, you're probably going to have to deal with peoples additional perceptions about your scars, you won't just be 'professional-Oddjob-at-the-desk-over-there' but you'll have another host of assumptions to deal with on top. Is that going to make working life easier or harder?

A scar should be a scar no matter what. But obvious self harm scars carry a mark of something that frightens and threatens most people. They probably should get over it, but are you prepared to put the hard work into the exposure and the fallout from it? You have a life to lead too.

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I work in a hospital, and have to wear a uniform that consists of a short sleeved tunic. My scars are limited to my inner wrist and before my hospitalisation in the summer, I struggled to hide the wounds with dressings/plasters, and tried to keep my hand turned down whenever possible. I would occasionally get questions, and I'd come up with lame excuses, but as far as I'm aware I don't think anyone thought I was self harming. After my hospitalisation it has been different. My colleagues are all aware of my MI, and I'm lucky that so many of them have been supportive and non judgmental. Most of the Radiographers that I actually work with know about my illness and SH and so I don't feel I have to hide it anymore. However, I do obviously have to be careful with patients and other staff from different departments or wards. I suppose the fact I keep it to one place makes it easier for me. It raises an interesting question as to what I would have to wear if I was someone who SH all up my arms? My uniform is only short sleeved. Then again, I suppose if I was a burn victim, they couldn't say anything to me about it being on show - like some have said, a scar is a scar. Interesting though.

Vicky

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Usually, "extremely professional" (i.e. business appropriate) dress will cover up almost any scar imaginable, though that's more due to the fact that it's rather restrictive (especially on us men, shirt, tie, coat, and all; less so for women). I cannot take heat due to brain damage suffered during meningitis (basically I sweat profusely at 70F), so I'm forced to deal with "business casual" in the rare event that I have a job. :smartass:

Okay, that all said, scars from past non-recent SI (say, >6 months ago) are often identical to scars incurred in accidents, so you would definitely have an excuse if someone asked "oh no, what happened to you?" upon seeing your older scars. I can explain my blotchy left forearm with a 2006 story of an incompetent nurse trying to put in an IV (which is actually partially true, but not all the cosmetic damage was due to her -- much of it was generated by me the year before!).

More recent SI is a bit more obvious as SI (or some sort of Exacto-knife accident) so the latter is the only excuse I can propose. Of course, if you're still doing SI, this means you need to bring it up with a tdoc and pdoc and get on the road to fixing the problem, and in the future, won't have to explain recent scars, as all your scars will have been in the distant past. :-)

I wish you the best at work and in battling your SI problems, if they're still around.

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That's kind of you, LikeMinded. Thanks for the consideration. :) I'm actually seeing both a tdoc and a pdoc at this point, and I'm on an AD. I've been cut-free for nearly five weeks, so I'm all healed up. All I have left is a tangled mess of ugly scars, some keloids, in various stages of fading. They are all up one arm, though. -.-

Our dress code is very casual. I wear plain t-shirts most days, and have a collection of bondage jeans. I leave the chains off as a courtesy. I've never been asked to...just did. If I have to dress up, I have nicer things that cover me up.

I'm okay with people knowing. I can tell them now that I'm trying to get better of the problems, and that makes for a better coming out, so to speak. Besides, to be honest I'm tired of putting on a fake happy face. It's not helping, and I'm too damned tired to juggle it anymore! :P I hesitate because it doesn't seem quite fair to let them know. I would feel uncomfortable if I thought they felt obligated to bring it up, or take it into account. I don’t want to be a burden, I guess is what I'm trying to say. Weird as that may be.

Thanks for the insight, everyone. A part of me thinks I'm doing myself a disservice by continuing to hide, and that I, too, deserve to have a degree of freedom. But a part of myself also thinks I've forfeited my right to that freedom by falling into a nasty, socially unacceptable habit like self-harm in the first place.

I had my first official work evaluation today, with the supe's second-in-command. Because I've been worried about the impact my depression has been having on my job (I've only been here a couple months, and I've been taking what I thought was forever to learn it), I told her some things, like that I take Citalopram for MDD. She was surprised. She said I hid it very well, and that if I was worried about it having a negative impact on my work performance, she couldn't wait to see what I looked like well. I was hugely relieved. I think this issue was also tied up in that anxiety, because I feel better about this tonight, as well.

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... collection of bondage jeans.

Not trying to be a pompous nor foolish, but HOW does anyone who works for a living afford a collection of bondage jeans? At up to $1,000 USD a pair with most in the $100 USD range, they seem like a very expensive fetish clothing item.

In a professional environment, no matter how casual, a nicely tailored pair of slacks would seem more appropriate. However, I admit to being a dinosaur and not fathoming the allure of bondage clothing nor denims that show baggy underwear.

In my dinosaur state-of-mind even casual Fridays require more than t-shirts and bondage.

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It's a pretty small collection. I take excellent care of my clothing. I've had some of these jeans for five or six years. I rarely get new ones, and the idea of spending more than seventy makes my toes curl. I asked permission at work before I ever wore a pair, and was told it was okay. Of course, I also dress for modesty and comfort in general, so hem and waistlines remain where the point of being clothed would seem to dictate. ;) No underwear on display, haha! In fact, one of the things I like best about these jeans is that they don't ride, sag, or display way too much of my landscape if I bend over to pick something up. Not to be crude, but in a pair of women's slacks or jeans I quite often feel on display in a way that triggers my anxiety. That's why the tees, as well. They're good cover.

I don't think you're a dinosaur for saying so. I agree with you! If women's clothes didn't make me want to tear my skin off and crawl out of it to get away, I would wear it. But until I get the gender stuff sorted out, it's a struggle, honestly.

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