What would Dolly Parton do (on Zoom)?

Being raised in the Bible belt on shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons meant my exposure to “fancy” women on TV was limited.

Ma Walton? Not really a fashionista.

But there was always one exception: Dolly Parton.

Dolly was the first “fancy”woman I remember seeing on television. It was on a rerun of her 1970 appearance on the show “Hee-Haw” (which was filmed about 20 minutes from where I was raised.)

I remember looking at Dolly and thinking wow! She has such big…ENERGY! 👀

But all jokes aside, her personality, her hair, her over the top costumes, her make up, EVERYTHING was perfect.

(Dolly has had a resurgence in the past year, first for her work with literacy in Appalachia but most recently for her funding with the COVID-19 vaccine. Suddenly everyone thinks she is a saint, while I have known this for 40 years. Welcome!)

Now that of many of us are entering month 11 of working remotely I am sure you have probably been on hundreds of video calls.

From day one I have absolutely loved the convenience of it. You can go from your desk to your sofa at the end of your workday in 2 seconds flat!

No long commutes.

But this also means no real preparation time for your workday.

Many people are having to also having get their children ready for their school day at home.

At the beginning of lockdown, many people struggled to find routine in those first few weeks (I know I did!) most people still got dressed as they would have if they were going to the office because we did not think the shutdown would last more than a week or two.

But as the weeks went on, professional clothing changed on camera.

Ties disappeared and scruffy beards appeared.

Once professionally-maintained hair (and dye 👀) became rapidly-graying messy buns and ponytails.

But I recognized something in myself almost immediately in those first few weeks.

When I did NOT get fully dressed, including hair and make up, I did not feel As positive or productive as I did on the days where I made an effort.

I remember the one day I did not wear make up on camera for a meeting. It was around the time of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders. I just could not rally that morning. I thought that not getting fully dressed would make the day easier but the reality was:

I felt naked.

Vunerable.

Since that day, I have gotten fully dressed for work (including make up and earrings) every single day. Even on the days I don’t have video meetings, I am fully dressed.

A recent Australian study pointed to pajamas being the sources of “worsened mental health”, and urged scientists to “gI will add that even if getting dressed on some days triggers anxiety, etc. for you, stay in your pajamas and find someone to work with you. I will also add that if not getting dressed is an act of resistance for you, carry on.

My challenge to the rest of you next week is to get dressed! Shine yourself up a little bit.

Pay attention to the things you USED to pay attention to as you got ready for work.

And, dare I say it?

Put on a pair of shoes!

Not crocs or flip flops or fuzzy zebra slippers or your daughter’s old cheerleading Sketchers.

REAL SHOES.

(One caveat to this is if you work with young people, I actually like when teachers and professionals are casual on camera like the students. I think it makes the lines of communication more open, but I am sure there are people who would argue against this.)

I believe we are entering the final phase of lockdown and that we will be returning to group work in some capacity within the next six months. This is the perfect time to get back into the practice of getting dressed to face the world. It is also a great time to see what still fits! 👀

So the next time you are getting ready for your work day and want to throw on an old ratty sweatshirt, think:

What would Dolly do?*

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