From hundreds of years ago and up to the contemporary times, clothing has been used as a tool to help identify people among different classes. The authenticity of what one truly is can never be proven as masking or self-making happens every day, everywhere and almost automatically. What one wears naturally becomes who one is. Since it is almost impossible to differentiate who one is as an individual from what one wears, it is very easy for one to manipulate who one wants to become just by changing one’s appearances.
Just like in the film, Working Girl, Tess takes advantage of Katharine, her boss’s apartment and closet, to make Jack believe her capabilities in business in order for her to get what she wants. The benefits of dress is that one can use it to reveal, hide, and enhance one’s self to let other see what one wants others to see. It can be used as a tool to hide who one is in order to achieve a desire goal. However, a problem with this is that what one decides to wear may not necessarily mean what they genuinely are. As clothing is seen as concealing the self, it can be looked as a deceitful mask that covers one’s self.
It is looked upon as a negative trait as somebody’s authentic being is being buried. This is seen in Tess raiding Katherine’s wardrobe in order to present herself in a manner that she believes others in the business class will accept her in. Her beliefs of being ashamed that by revealing that she is a secretary along with her lower middle class image of big poufy hair and dull clothing is unfortunately true in the movie. She decided that in order to convince Jack to be in business with her, she must create this image of a career woman to convince him that she is worthy.
By doing so, she is in a process of self-making an ideal self through masking. Through this, it can be said that masquerade of the self is seen as a negative trait because one must conceal who they are to get what they want. In addition, Tess is ultimately pushed out of her ways to fight for what is rightfully hers. She is a very good example of defining feminism. Despite being in a male dominated culture, she is proactive and does everything herself. Even though she walks in on her boyfriend cheating, is sexually harassed at work and is tricked by her boss, she does not concur but rightfully believe her value.
She realize that she could not continue on being herself and still get the promotion at work and the loyal boyfriend. By that, she decides she must change and disguise in other appearances or as a form of mask to battle for her rights. Ironically, aside from being the heroine of the movie, Tess’s physical appearance stands out from the rest of the females at her workplace. Her coworkers are all women who is passive, boring and who just do not inspire. But Tess is different. Tess’s clothing and make up choices are very subtle and neutral.
Being the protagonist, one would expect her bold personality to go along with bold colours but the opposite is true for how clothing choices are made for the characters of the movie. The majority of Tess’s female coworkers are either dressed in a bright coloured piece of clothing along with colourful clown like make up, or their hairstyle makes up for a big part of their personality. Paradoxically, even though they are all dolled up, they are all just some plain worker. Tess, on the other hand, dresses in a very classy way. Her hair is plain, her clothing is in plain shades of black and greys and her make-up is very natural.
Tess knows how to part herself from the others to not fall into the stereotypical female characters. Unfortunately, despite Tess’s hard work to hide herself from who she is to achieve her goal, in the end she is still seen as the typical female character. The typical romantic comedy story line occurred. In order to get what she wants, Tess makes a drastic change to her identity, to cut off her negative past, improves as a newer, better Tess but still very typically must rely on Jack to help her reach her goal and classically falls in love with him along the way.
It is interesting to see how Tess thought by manipulating her looks and used someone else’s career identity; she will get what she wants. What she did not expect was that by being her true self, the natural and authenticity of Tess was what won over the men and women in the movie. All in all, it is unfortunate to see that women who righteously believe in feminism must manipulative their ways through the shady, competitive workplace to become equal to men.
By being the less empowering gender, women must use their skills in masquerade to hide, reveal and enhance to manoeuvre their way through society. This way of enhancement and accented ways of self occurs almost every day, in any setting at all times. The fall and rise of Tess seems to deliver a message that it is perfectly alright to hide what you are if you need to achieve a goal. It also seems to deliver the message that even if one’s integrity and dignity is needed to be sacrificed, it must be done to get what one wants.