Monday, 9 May 2016

Nurses

I've said it before but it bears repeating: nurses are among the best people on the planet who deserve our utmost respect.  The only profession I see as deserving just slightly more esteem is teachers, who are responsible for bringing up our children from age 3-18 (or so).  Many children have more contact with their teachers during this time of their lives than with their parents.  In 2016 the folks in both professions are still predominantly women.  I don't say that to be sexist, it is simply factual and it leads directly into the point of this post.  As usual, I do have one.

Which leads me to Halloween.

Wait wait, Halloween?  That's quite a leap.  What the hell are you smoking, Doc?

Stay with me.  It'll all connect up, though you will be angry about it by the end.  At least I hope you are, otherwise I will not have done my job properly.  Trust me, just like in "The Usual Suspects", it will all line up by the time we're finished.  And for the record, no I am not Keyser Söze.

As I was saying, Halloween.  Ah, Halloween, that wonderful time of year when children dress up as Elsa from Frozen and witches and Yoda and ghosts and Elsa from Frozen and Chewbacca and Elsa from Frozen and princesses and ninjas and Elsa from Frozen and Yoda and Elsa from Frozen.  But it isn't only children that dress up - adults do their best to wear garments that they would otherwise have no excuse to wear.  Some people, for example, seem to think that any profession can be made "sexy".  Witness Yandy.com, a website that has an entire section dedicated to sexy costumes.  FORTY FOUR PAGES of sexy costumes.  There are some, like Wonder Woman, who was sexy to start with:
Other than the high heels, I have no problem with this (she wore boots, Yandy).  But they also have sexualised other characters like Captain America (really?), Tinkerbell (really?), and Elsa from Frozen (REALLY??!):


But then they have other costumes that make one think, "What the fuck were they thinking?  How is a crayon or Mr. Peanut or an M&M or Sully from "Monsters Inc" sexy?"
But then they get to the one that I knew would be there and finally (as the title strongly suggested) gets to the damned point of this stupid post (FINALLY!) - the sexy nurse.
Lest you think I exaggerate, there are 158 different "sexy nurse" costumes on that site alone.  ONE HUNDRED FIFTY EIGHT.  Now I've worked in many different hospitals in many cities at all times of the day, and I've never seen a nurse dressed like that.

Before anyone starts to rebel and revolt and leave comments about how stupid I am and how I'm totally overreacting, I fully understand what you're thinking.  At this very moment I can hear several people moaning and complaining, "Everyone knows nurses don't actually dress like that!  I mean, they sell a sexy Ebola costume too! {yes, really}.  But it's just Halloween, Doc!  It's just a costume!  Don't be such a stick-in-the-mud!  It's just harmless fun, Doc!"   I hear you.  I've heard the arguments before, and I've contemplated this issue for years.
But that's just the thing - it isn't just harmless fun.  Trust me, I understand the "nurse fantasy" very well.  When I had my appendix removed in college, I readily admit I fantasised about a hot nurse coming in to check me out.  You know . . . check me out, wink wink, nudge nudge.  But that never happened for one very important reason: because just like doctors, nurses are professionals.  

Nurses don't deserve to have their occupation demeaned degraded and sexualised so they look much more like prostitutes than professional healthcare workers.  These women and men do nothing but take care of patients (in between bouts of pounding on the computer trying to get it to work).  Every day they come in, they take care you people no matter how rude or dirty or stinky, they go home, and then the next day they do it all over again.

But just in case you still think I'm overreacting, hopefully THIS will change your mind:
On the off chance you can't see the picture well, that is a 5 or 6-year-old girl wearing a nurse costume, complete with pockets strategically placed over the breasts, a fake tapered waistline, and fake cleavage.  FAKE CLEAVAGE.  And what makes it worse (as if that were even possible) is the name of the costume: "Sexy Nurse Toddler T-Shirt".  And who it was made for?  Two to six year-olds.  This was on sale at Amazon.com until it was rightly taken down recently.

As a doctor, I was outraged.  As a father, I am horrified and disgusted on many levels: 1) Someone out there thought it would be a good idea to make a costume that sexualises both nurses and children, 2) someone else then heard that thoroughly revolting idea and thought "Yes, I'll make this for you", 3) someone at Amazon then said, "Yes, we'll sell this item", and then 4) someone else (god only knows how many) thought, "Yes, I'll buy this for my little girl."  And at no time during this process did anyone ever say, "Wait . . . what the fuck are we doing here?"

What the hell is wrong with these people?  What is . . . wait, no.  I can't even finish that sentence or this paragraph because my ire has risen above the level of my eyebrows and is preventing me from seeing the keyboard properly.

Though Amazon removed this particular item in response to complaints, a 0.273 second Google search found several other "sexy nurse" toddler T-shirts that are still for sale.  Do little girls not have enough to contend with growing up these days without utter garbage like this adding onto the pile?  What in hell are we teaching them with this shit?

Is this just all in my head and a gross overreaction?  Mrs. Bastard doesn't seem to think so, and she has a much better head on her shoulders than I do (as you all have seen).  I fully welcome opposing views.  Someone here please tell me I'm wrong.

49 comments:

  1. I don't have a problem with the adult "sexy nurse" costumes.I do have an issue with the sexy costumes of any nature for small children. Our culture throws sex in our face constantly. We need to let our children grow up an not make them sexual objects during the most formative years of their lives.

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  2. Why on earth would someone put a two-six year old in something like that?! I think that is just a little creepy! I am definitely with you on this one, Doc!

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  3. Geez Doc, you must not have any girls! Her name is Elsa, not Ella!

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  4. ELSA from Frozen ;) Sorry, could not resist! With 2 and 4 year old girls, Elsa is practically part of my family!!! :S

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  5. Thats exactly what keyzer soze Would say!
    Its ELSA from frozen.
    And this is just disgusting.
    Connor

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  6. My daughter eschews all things princessy, including Frozen (though she has, of course, seen it).

    I'd argue that it was a typo, except that I made it 6 times. Sigh. Anyway, it's fixed. Thanks.

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  7. Aside from the fact that those costumes are worn at college parties where the entire point is to get drunk and hook up, I don't really see a big deal with adults wearing them if that's how they want to roll. There's plenty of work appropriate costumes that women can and do buy.

    But sexy adult silliness is where those costumes need to begin and end.

    I have a hard time shopping for my preschool age daughter in the summer because someone decided that booty shorts were acceptable summer wear to sell to kids. Don't get me started on swim suits. I just got some cheap jeans and cut them off at an acceptable length (middle of her thigh, which is hardly a conservative length). She's too young to know that cut off jeans are a relic of the 90's.

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    1. If women want to dress up in skimpy outfits, fine. But you missed my first point, which is that nurses deserve to be respected, not have their career marginalised.

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    2. Right, and I agree that nurses deserve the utmost respect because they work long hours with shit pay doing an important job. ;)

      But when you have sexy crayons, and sexy teenage mutant ninja turtle costumes, nurses aren't being singled out. It's an overarching problem of making ridiculous fetish costumes and nurses are just one victim out of many. There's lots of professions that are made into fetish costumes for women: Soldiers, police, firemen, doctors, lawyers, construction workers. They all deserve respect as well for the services they provide. What makes a nurse so different?

      It seems odd to say that women can wear skimpy costumes, provided it's not a nurse. Either the ridiculous sexualization of women is the problem, or it's just another man saying "Women can only dress sexy as long as it's the sexy I want them to be".

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    3. Shark, I agree with you. You either have a problem with the sexualization of all costumes, or you don't have a problem with any of them. Firefighters, police, maids, and Native Americans deserve our respect and generically sexualizing them in costumes isn't the way to do it. It doesn't matter if they are nurses, a 70s pimp or a 1920s gangster (they've got some variety there at Yandy).

      So, again, it's either ok for women to be sexualized in costumes, or it's not.

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    4. Doc - I have to agree with Shark & Anon here. I completely understand your frustration over the marginalization and sexualization of nurses, however even teachers, whom in your opinion command slightly more respect, are ridiculously hypersexualized (during Halloween and year - round as well on sites much less seasonal than Yandy).

      So you can't single out nurses. It's part of a larger problematic mindset that can't change unless every profession is protected from the industry - but then if every onw of those costumes were gone you'd be denying a woman her right to dress scantily in something other than a crayon costume for a night and have her fun, and that's just as big an issue.

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    5. I've never seen a woman dressed as a "sexy teacher". Have you?

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    6. Unfortunately, I have. As well as other costumes with tbat same education theme (gym teacher, schoolgirl, librarian, etc...)

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    7. Everyone has seen the schoolgirl costume (though I've never seen an actual schoolgirl dressed like that), but never any other school employee costume. Interesting.

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    8. Don't worry the 90's are coming back in at the moment so you can show off how edgy your fashion sense is!

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  8. I hate it. I hate how one-sided it is. Not that it's plain-sailing being male either, but I hate how girls of all ages are bombarded with this idea that the most important thing they can be is attractive. Not intelligent, or kind, or funny, or creative or ambitious - attractive according the arbitrary scale set by the media and perpetuated by society.
    My (completely healthy) cousin is six years old. She came home from after-school club last week and told her parents she was going on a diet because someone in her class had told her that her legs were too chubby. When they told the class teacher, the response they got "not another one".
    Angry does not even come close.
    So, 100% with you on this.

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  9. Dear Doc, I so agree with you on the sexualization of our children, particularly girls. It robs them of part of their childhood, puts them in situations they are not emotionally or cognitively ready to handle, and sets them up as objects for predators. In addition, it tells young girls that how they look (sexy) is what is important and defines them. I am seeing elementary girls wearing serious makeup, tight clothing, suggestive slogan on their t-shirts and doing "grown-up" things such as wearing false eyelashes, hair extensions, fake nails, going for mani-pedi sessions, etc. So sad... I enjoyed being a kid for as long as I could.

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  10. Although I suppose some of these elementary school girls get an allowance that they are allowed to spend however they want, odds are that an adult family member is buying the kids this trash. What is WRONG with them? It's not cute, it's not funny.

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  11. Doc: it's infuriating that you write about the adult sexy outfits as if women are the sole driving force behind their existence. "Some women, for example, seem to think any profession can be made "sexy"."

    Ahem. No. More like some men objectify women as sexual objects, here for wish fulfillment and fantasies. Society teaches women our worth is in our sex appeal, not in our heads. And then if we have the nerve to be confident in that, we are shot down as sluts or whores.

    Women are not designing these costumes.

    If you're going to be outraged about sexualizing children, realize it extends beyond childhood. That message is drilled in at an early age and persists, which is exactly why all those "sexy" costumes exist.

    Instead, we should be teaching our children to value themselves and their peers as people so they can all grow into respectful adults -- who enjoy really good consensual sex!

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    1. Sarah - That was a mistake. It should have read "Some people", not "Some women". I absolutely did not mean it that way. It has been fixed, and I apologise for missing that. I wrote this up while angry and obviously didn't proofread well enough.

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    2. Thanks Doc, I appreciate the response!

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  12. Doc, I'm outraged at this right along with you.

    Now, if a preschool-age girl tells her parents that she wants to dress as a nurse for Halloween, that would be fine. Kids are often inspired by someone they've personally met in their lives, seen on TV, or visited with on "career day" at their day care or school, so they might think, "I want to BE a (doctor, firefighter, police officer, scientist, or nurse) when I grow up." If a child wants to wear the costume of his/her favorite adult professional of the moment, instead of a movie or cartoon character, that's fine.

    But it's the "sexy" part that's totally disgusting. Why would we want a child to think that being a nurse involves showing cleavage??? Totally gross.

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  13. as a member of the group responsible for scooping up trauma patients and sending them to the trauma bay, you know I fully support emergency medical professionals.

    but in this case, I must decline your request. I can't tell you that you are wrong.

    if adults want to go to halloween as tramps, (of the male and female varieties) it is their adult choice to do that. but training their children that this is what dress-up is about means the alleged adult has some growing up to do.

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  14. While I do not agree with sexualizing outfits made to be worn by children, I do see the other side of why we, as adults SEE it as sexualized. Because we live in an overly sexualized society? For instance, my 8 year old wearing a regular two piece swim suit, some would say is early sexualization of my little girl. But I wonder most why they SEE an 8 year old and SEE it as sexualized. I'm not sure if I'm being clear. Another example, I'm in my mid 40's so bear with me, my little sister at some 6 years old wanted to be Madonna on Halloween, so my Mom bought her heels and fishnets and a swim suit with glitter and a feather boa around her neck and the first person that saw her said "little girl you look like a hooker!" So for the rest of the night, my little sister ran through the neighborhood, and when asked what she was for Halloween she would gladly say she was a hooker. She never knew at that time what a hooker was and its still a funny memory.
    As for nurses, I've seen doctor, surgeon, police, fire, EMS, costumes as well. All are fine professions, and should be respected. But it's Halloween. If nurses costumes bother you why don't police, fireman and EMS costumes bother you?

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    1. Because it is most certainly NOT a nurse costume. Nurses wear scrubs, the same as doctors. You know who else wears scrubs? Pretty much everyone in the hospital - respiratory therapists and nurse assistants and physical therapists and occupational therapists and orderlies and speech therapists. The only ones who don't are the dietitians for some reason.

      As I said above, maybe I'm overreacting about it.

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    2. This one must be a regional thing, here in the UK doctors are probably just in business casual type clothes, and nurses tend to be in a blue dress/ shirt and trousers uniform affair. The only time I've seen them otherwise is during a heatwave when the scrubs came out. I do agree that the sexualisation of the profession and children is ridiculous how wet

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  15. Interesting post Doc' - the sexy kids' T-shirt is utterly outrageous and it seems like everyone agrees with that.

    As far as the "sexy" dressing up outfits are concerned, I'm rather of the opinion that this is much less troubling than the general obsession that society has with the superficial, particularly for women but increasingly for men also.

    I know you frequent FML - that's where I and a load of the commenters here found your blog. The posts that trouble me there are the ones along the lines of:

    "I woke up today feeling really self-confident and so braved going to school without make-up. The first person I saw was this guy I have a crush on who said 'Gees you look hideous today!'" (I made that up but there are plenty along those lines).

    This is wrong on so many levels: How can we have a society where teenagers feel they will be judged if they step out looking anything short of perfect? What will this do to them in the longer term?

    At least the sexy dressing-up outfits are bought and worn by adults who have chosen to attend an event and have selected, or at least agreed to wear, this costume knowing the connotations that it will have. I agree it's not very respectful of nurses but there are many dozens of other professions that you can find as "sexy outfits". I don't dare google for "sexy dustman" at work but I reckon you'd get a result if you tried.

    Much more worrying is that my girls are growing up feeling that they will be judged primarily on their appearance at every stage in their lives: professionally, socially, academically, everywhere. Looks are key in everything and the "look" needed is ever more sexulised.

    I'm not sure how we address all of this, short of banning all cosmetics (make-up type and surgical) and mandating dress codes. Can't see that working somehow. However, I'm rather more outraged by the fact that a woman needs to show her cleavagem, or wear a short skirt, at a real-life "professional" meeting than by the injury done to any particular profession by a make-believe costume.

    Ugi

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    1. I absolutely agree, Ugi. The women who wear these costumes buy them and wear them of their own choosing. It isn't *that* they choose them, it's the *why*. I'm bringing my daughter up focusing not on her face (which happens to be beautiful), but on the brain behind it.

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    2. I guess everyone has fantasies and they're harmless enough in the right context. Why are nurses & chambermaids a fantasy while dinner-ladies and checkout assistants not? Beats me.

      Our girls have about the best role-model they could have: My wife became an Executive Director at a multi-national investment bank without ever wearing make-up to work. She's just really smart and hard-working.

      Even so, the kids come home (from junior school - 4-11 yo) having been told by others that they have fat legs (they're thin as rakes) or get given make-up sets for their birthdays. Really? Is this what we want? We are heading towards a world of beautiful-looking cloned neurotic idiots. Whose plan was this?

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    3. "Why are nurses & chambermaids a fantasy while dinner-ladies and checkout assistants not?"

      Short answer: Power play.

      That aside, I agree with you Ugi. They're targeting girls much younger than when I was growing up. Just look around any target/walmart at the girl's section. It's hard to escape.

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  16. I think the biggest issue I have with the whole trend is that they are purposefully confusing sexy with trashy. the costumes pictured aren't "sexy ______" they are "trashy _______" and this confusion slops over into normal life - there is little distinction made between a woman dressing to impress and a woman dressing to advertise. dress cues that used to indicate a woman was available to rent are now part of standard attire.

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    1. So how do you explain the drag queen/transgender costumes for sale on eBay?

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    2. I don't. there are limits to the extra things I force my brain to process.

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  17. Sexualization of children in costumes reminds me of the beauty pageants for them. Adults living vicariously through their kids. It disgusts me.

    For the commerce of it, it is designers and marketers total lack of imagination and anything-for-a-buck thinking.

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  18. You're not wrong, not by a long shot--kids are naturally curious about sex and all that grown-up stuff (it's part of growing up), but adults have no business exploiting that curiosity, and they sure as hell shouldn't be buying t-shirts with fake cleavage for 2-to-6-year-old girls. Crimony, WTF is wrong with people?!? And how the hell do people look at a pre-pubescent girl wearing a two-piece bathing suit and think "ooh, trying to be sexy, is she?" GAAAAAAAAHHH!!! And let's not even get started on the whole "a woman's worth is mainly a matter of how 'hot' she supposedly is" crap, which has been something women have dealt with for millennia, but which I swear has definitely gotten worse over the past 20 years or so.

    I'm also tired of women's Halloween costumes being almost exclusively "sexy ______"; there's nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive, but life isn't an episode of The Benny Hill Show, people; nurses are trained professionals who are far more interested in saving your sorry ass than getting theirs pinched while wearing miniskirts and high heels, and flaunting explosive amounts of cleavage. For those looking for something better, may I suggest Take Back Halloween, at http://takebackhalloween.org/ ? Lots of fascinating historical and mythological women, and advice on how to how to dress up as them; while some of the suggestions are rather pricey, they're assuming that you can't or don't know how to sew, but if you can, then you can do most of these outfits much, much cheaper. Perhaps you, Mrs. Bastard, and your daughter can find some ideas for next Halloween here?

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    1. Nevermind the cliche for costume wearing. A sex cat, a sexy vampire, a zexy zombie... REALLY? A sexy freaking Zombie? That's what your going with? Seesh, its halloween for the love all things unholy.... Put some fear or gore in there somewhere.

      BTW great link

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  19. The problem with "sexy nurse" costumes is that, while it is all well and good -sane- people can realize "Oh, that is not really how nurses are", the majority of people nurses deal with are not sane. Even alert and oriented patients seem to have a problem separating this fantasy from real life, which you alluded to with your appendectomy anecdote.
    The sheer onslaught of the sexy nurse stereotype perpetuates violence, especially sexual violence, in healthcare.

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    1. No offense. But the majority of nurses I've worked with are overweight.

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    2. by medical standards, the majority of humans are overweight.

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    3. I think Women who were nutritionally deprived as children are significantly more likely to be obese as adults, while men who were deprived as children face no greater risk.

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    4. do you have anything to support your opinion, or are you just making it up?

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    5. What an interesting direction this has taken - not to add to the madness, but as hard as I try not to be offended, well...@anon 17:16, as someone who gets mistaken for a nurse ALL the time (my answer is always "No, sorry, I'm just a doctor"), as doc said, we all wear the same incredibly flattering scrubs inside the hospital, frequently layered with fleece jackets. Some hospitals in the US are now color-coding their scrubs, but for the most part they are identical.

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    6. I've dealt with obese doctors too especially in the area of pulmonology and sleep medicine. I think they should be sacked and forced to lose weight to return to work.

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    7. I think YOU should be sacked and forced to conform to MY arbitrary standard to return to work.

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    8. Oh goodness, I guess I must admit that I should have seen that one coming. Yes, we don't all practice what we preach, but the classic bell curve or normal distribution exists for a reason, not everyone is at their optimal BMI, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a "sexy doctor" t-shirt or costume, we are not sexualized in such a manner nearly as often (if ever).

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    9. If Obese doctors are not going to take the matter into their own hands, and deal with their weight, then why should we have follow their advice for their lack of motivation? If they are fine with the health issues that come along with being obese, that's fine, but they should have to pay for them. Not us. I also have a feeling that if they were required to pay more taxes, America would see a decline in obesity, even from those who "can't" control their weight.

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