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Sexist tripe, or sound advice?

This has been popping up on Facebook again recently. I’m not sure of the provenance or accuracy of the image. On the surface it’s sexist tripe and to be ridiculed. But actually, if you look deeper it’s sound advice.

Sexist tripe, or sound advice?

No, wait, hear me out.

Take the blatant historical attitude towards women out, and pretend it’s not about sewing.

“Prepare yourself mentally [for sewing]. Think about what you are going to do. Never approach [sewing] with a sigh, or lackadaisically.”

Prepare yourself mentally. Think about it. It’s Monday morning, your alarm just went off, and you have to get up for work. Do you get up with determination, ready for the day ahead? Or do you roll over, snooze the alarm for another 10 minutes? How much difference does that make to your work day?

Let’s change that slightly.

“Prepare yourself mentally for the task, or day, ahead. Think about what you are going to do. Never approach your work with less than your best.”

Or, we could make it a positive statement instead.

“Prepare yourself mentally for the task, or day, ahead. Think about what you are going to do. Alway approach your work with focus and determination.”

Then there’s that bit about doing housekeeping chores first. Make the beds, do the dishes. If you refer to all these as “distractions” it doesn’t matter that they are house based, it can be anything. If there’s something that needs doing, that is distracting you, then you won’t give your best focus to the task at hand.


“When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress. [snip] Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on.”

Never mind the defined clothing, or makeup, or what might be considered “attractive”. If you are clean and tidy for work, dressed appropriately, then you will be ready to do your job.

I work in an office, we have a uniform, but we are allowed to wear jeans and trainers. This isn’t something I agree with, I think we should have a tighter dress code for the office. A firm believer in the “Dress smart, work smart” rationale, I think the way we present ourselves reflects and influences the way we work.

There are plasterers in the house today. They’re not wearing suits, they need to be in overalls. But they are both clean, tidy, polite, ready to do the job. I’ve had workmen turn up in dirty overalls, smelling unwashed, or of stale beer. I sent them away, and asked for someone else.

There is a difference between dirty, and job-stained. I’m not expecting pristine, white, or looking as new, but I do expect clean.

If you are embarrassed, or aware that you are less than well presented, you won’t do your job to the best of your ability.

The way you present yourself will affect the way others treat you. Your appearance can affect the way you behave.

So, in conclusion, that image is a bit daft, and we laugh at the sexism, the assumptions. But it’s a historical document, reflecting attitudes of the time. If you take the idea, rather than the language and attitude, it still applies today.

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