By Kathryn Loving, Uniform Stories Contributor
As police officers, we girls are expected to survive in a profession that’s traditionally been a man’s job. We’ve made progress since I first became an officer and the conventional stereotypes have mostly faded. But there are still those who look at us like we are aliens.
Being a police officer changes our entire way of thinking and affects our psyche. It transforms us for life, not just for the duration of duty. Sometimes this projects a hard edge. At times, our femininity gets lost in the equation.
My mother would say the job has hardened me and I have lost all refinement. How does that song go—conceal, don’t feel? Maybe she is right, but I am still fighting to keep my womanhood…kicking and screaming all the way!
In terms of societal perspectives, here are 10 ways law enforcement has ruined me as a woman:
1. I’ve lost my fashion sense Candidly speaking, our uniforms are a necessity and it would not be practical to wear anything but department issue. Our pants are designed for active use. They mostly come in earth tones. Some of us get to wear a pop of color, but only in blue. Vests are not figure flattering. I mean, frankly, the girls get smashed and lost in there. The only bling we have are shiny metal attachments to our pockets and collars. At least we have a broach in the form of a shield or a star. I guess you could count that as jewelry. Our shoes, well, although they make tactical boots in many styles to choose from, they primarily come in black. Even our hair is regulated. Because the job requires a certain level of physical fitness, I am considered a sloppy dresser with my workout clothes overpowering my personal wardrobe. Someone looking through my closet might say, “That’s all you have?” But I must admit I do have a nice collection of running shoes and hiking boots!
2. I prefer shiny accessories in gunmetal gray While some girls rush out to get the latest handbag, I browse the gun aisles. Weapons are like my shoe fetish—you can't have enough. Maybe I need a new holster. You might find me perusing the hunting sections of retail stores. It is there I am thrilled to find range items suitable for work. A new knife will catch my eye. They are so shiny! Or a flashlight. We also stock ammo. Gosh, all this excites me! Let’s go shopping!
3. I am not a damsel in distress Thanks to the custody and control maneuvers and ninja moves we have learned over the years, I can hold my own and I don’t need a knight in shining armor to rescue me. Physical engagement is not something I would invite in by instigating trouble, but when it comes my way it’s exhilarating. Plus, women are good at communication. This causes a problem when I am out on a date and I end up diffusing problems instead of standing by while my man does it.
4. Female cops have moxie While I think this is an attractive trait, many people shy away from us. But just because I'm tenacious and independent doesn't mean I'm not a lady. I still know how to bat my eyes. Does that count?
5. I can project my voice like Major Payne When the kids are running wild, I boom commands and they come to a screeching halt. Please, and thank you, are afterthoughts. These are orders. In my household, I will rattle the windows and life will come to a complete stop. Usually, this is accompanied by raised eyebrows and big eyes. This is effective in crowd control but somehow loses its flash effect at home.
6. Everyone looks at me for decisions and treats me like one of the dads
It’s true. At PTA meetings, the other parents will turn around to see what I think or expect me to have all the answers. Who, me? I just like to be at the back of the room and go unnoticed. Wait, you want me to join Booster club? Do I have to wave pom poms?
7. We become socially awkward There are days I am downright anti-social. But in most cases, I still enjoy regular people. My friends find it distracting when we are in a conversation but I never look them in the eye. I will glance once in a while. However, I am too busy scanning the room for threats and keeping my eyes on any sudden movers and shakers. Eating out tends to be a picky decision as I have arrested many of the servers. No special sauce, please.
8. I don’t really rush to attend tea parties and book clubs This might be too girly or may entrap me into wearing a dress with a hoop skirt. Female cops get dirty. I love to fish, hike and be on the water. Now trap shooting or any outdoor sports? I am all about that. But those sun bonnets and parasols…umm…nah.
9. Sometimes I channel my inner truck driver Street language is the sound of our people. It’s tough. It’s rough. It is direct. Let’s face it…many times it involves a lot of slang and graphic cursing. This vocabulary would shock most grandmothers out of their knickers and does not have much use in conversation with regular folks. My mother is especially disgusted by my fondness of the f*bomb when it slips. But on the other hand, it has so many uses!
10. I like camouflage It’s true. Sometimes I even prefer it in pink. In addition to that, wearing warrior clothing is sometimes appealing and might be part of my wardrobe. Skull logos, superhero emblems, and warrior symbols are fun to display in various materials.
Setting aside all these influences on my personality, I really do like pretty dresses and high heels. I put on makeup and wear my hair down. It is not always styled in buns or braids. Manicures and pedicures are mandatory. And spas or massages? Oh, don’t get me giddy.
I can laugh, cry, squeal, and flirt just like the rest of them. Don’t discount my female ways. It is still very flattering if men open doors for us ladies and treat us to things. Romance? Yep. We are all about that. But we can also put you in an arm bar in 2.5 seconds. It’s all a struggle.