Why Appearances Matter
Strangers fascinate me.
There are billions of people on this earth, thousands of which that may cross your line of vision on any one day. People with different lives, careers, families, hobbies, secrets, pet hates and favourite things, like oh my. It's insane to even consider. The beauty of the stranger, I think, is how ambiguous it is. You genuinely have not a single preconception about the life of that person who you accidentally catch eyes with. The person behind you in a queue. The person who you utter an unheard 'Sorry' to as your elbow accidentally smacks against there's, knocking you both one inch of a step out of your paths, the course of both of your lives now irrevocably altered for the rest of your days, by just that one inch of step, even if you both are barely aware it ever even happened.
That is why appearances matter. Why fashion matters. The first assumptions that we can make about a person when we first see them, the very initial frame on which our minds can begin to build a hypothetical idea of the type of person they are and the kind of life they lead, is built on exactly that - what we see. There are people who feign a belief that 'It's not about looks'. But so often I am struck by the fact that, actually- it is.
It takes less than a second for our senses to provide us with the immediate information about any given situation. You don't have to talk to someone to know what they look like. You don't need them to talk either. In fact, you don't even need to speak the same language, or even be able to talk at all, to know what someone looks like. (This is of course, with the exception of those unable to see.) Our very first assumptions and all subsequent ponderings entirely stem from that initial instantaneous information of what a person looks like. A strangers appearance is the foundation on which our curiosities are built, and I guess for that reason, my appearance is very important to me.
Not all things can be controlled, but one of the things that can be, which just so happens to be the very origin of what every person you meet will base all their first assumptions of you on, is your appearance. Now I know you can't change things about your appearance like your race and height, and I'm not talking about plastic surgery or drastic cosmetic procedures - it's simpler than that. The clothes you choose to wear. The piercings and tattoos you choose to have. The colour and style in which you choose to have your hair. All these things are choices that we choose to make, and what we choose is driven by the supposed impression we want to give out to other people. We tailor certain aspects of our appearance in accordance to the people that we want to be perceived as, to in turn manipulate the thoughts of those who see us, whether they be friends, foes or strangers.
There is such an overwhelming contradictory pressure for teenagers, especially girls to dress fashionably and uniquely to express themselves that no wonder it's so easy to completely get lost between the two, and feel as though it is a fundamental problem. What I would stress is this: don't let what other people think or expect from you become a cage you can't escape from. Be who you are, even if that person isn't the person the world expects you to be.
You see, I did something recently which seems to have dispelled this pressure.
I did something a little bit daring, and chopped of my hair. I've always had really long hair, and it had started to drive me insane, so I got a bob. It's outrageously short, that previously I'd consider to be so 'not me', something I'd never do, and yet it has somehow totally shifted my perception of myself to a more neutral one.
I know it sounds a little bit silly, but by changing something about myself so dramatically, and there being no real dramatic outcome from it, it just showed me how inevitably pointless it all was.
All the while you are endlessly pining over girls you wish you could be, people you wish you could look like, there's probably someone else out there, even if just one person, who is secretly doing the exact same about you, too.
Your appearance matters. More than you know.
For example, have you ever had a name for someone you barely know?
I think it's something we all subconsciously do, but for a while now my friends and I have been assigning names to people we see and connect with, and it was only today when I actually started thinking about it that I realised something quite spectacular.
For example, on my way to school most days I pass 'hot bike guy'. If I pass him on my way I know I'm running perfect time, (unless of course he's late but so far he's been quite reliable). We are strangers. I know nothing about him except that he's attractive, cycles to work, and occasionally (if he isn't cycling) wears glasses.
These strangers have no idea that they are commonly discussed by people who know nothing about them. Sentences like "- but is he hot bike guy hot?" are commonly heard coming from my mouth as we analyse any potential new guy on the scene. As the first one to be assigned a name, hot bike guy has long been top of the strangers list. Today though, he cycled into second place beaten by the new : 'cute café guy'. Cute café guy is extremely special. Not only was he extremely attractive, but the conversation we had made me realise that appearances are in many ways, our first impressions. Fashion, what we wear, is instant language.
I had, in a childish burst of excitement, bought blue candyfloss from a stall at the market, about an hour before. Long story short, as I wandered around a extremely busy Edinburgh, I ended up with a blue face. I had no wipes , and resolved to wash up in a bathroom if I could find one. The café Annie and I came across looked like it might have one.
We went inside.
The café turned out to be a lot smaller than we thought. No toilet.
"Oh. What happened?" I looked up to find three baristas behind the counter, watching me with expressions of mild amusement. The one on the left looked like he'd walked out of a teenage rom com, the lovable best friend, with curly black hair and stylish glasses. The one on the right was grumpy-looking, wearing a navy anorak and had her auburn hair in a ponytail. The middle one, who'd spoken, looked like a model - tall and slim wearing a black tee shirt with his blonde hair flicked upward stylishly, impossibly pale skin and the most piercing blue eyes I've ever seen.
I laughed "Candyfloss happened"
We laughed together, and as I sat down he brought tap water and napkins over as per my request. I ordered hot chocolate, cleaned my face and went on my way. During this Blank Space had come on while he was sweeping the floor. I had - unable to resist- started singing/ lip syncing along. I looked up to see him dancing with the brush. He looked me in the eye, smiling:
"Love's a game -wanna play?"
I laughed and put on my coat.
Wonderstruck, I blushed all the way home.