Posts Tagged ‘snap judgments’

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in this body.

February 4, 2010

On the bus yesterday on the way to see T, I did a little bit of reading of Push by Sapphire (the film Precious was intense, but a very good adaptation of the book I thought) and a little bit of people-watching.  Occasionally, my gaze would meet someone else’s, and I would look away as if I were just flickering my vision across the periphery.  And my mind began to think, what do people see when they see me?  I mean, everyone makes snap judgements about people they see based on first impressions and looks, and I wondered what kind of judgements people make when they see me.  I’m slim now, I guess I am quite pretty (according to what everyone says, and I personally don’t think I am ugly most of the time) – I noticed that nobody ever says “handsome”, I’m always “pretty” / “gorgeous” / “beautiful”, which is interesting considering I’m a guy who’s 6 feet tall and broad shouldered. But anyway – and I’m always listening to music, reading a book or looking out of the window and somewhat preoccupied.  What image does that create of me?  What do people see on first glance?

The funny thing is, I guess that I am now considered quite attractive, but I never used to be that way.  I feel like I’m the same person inside, wearing a completely different body.  I know that a lot of people from school whom I pass in the street don’t recognise me anymore, despite my not being facially any different since the age of 3.  I found my dress sense, I found the slim person inside who’s been dying to get out for 23 years, and people who see me now don’t know who I’ve been, where I’ve come from, what I’ve been through.  And maybe I don’t want to be an open book for everyone – privacy is something that’s very important to me – but it’s odd to think that nobody can tell that I used to be chubby, that I used to be unhappy, somewhat geeky, that I used to have “interesting” taste in clothes and piles of junky jewellery instead of the Armani and Gucci that I wear now.  Call it adolescence, call it growing pains, but those are memories that I still carry around with me every day, and all that makes me part of who I am today.  I don’t feel any different, just that finally all the extra layers seem to have fallen away and the “pretty” person waiting inside has finally been revealed.

There’s an element of “now what…”, too.  I appear to be achieving my aims of tattoos, of learning to drive (theory test in a week and a half!), and of having a relationship with someone.  Just by looking at me, nobody can know that these are things that I’ve struggled with, that I’ve been working towards.  Something I said to T was that in the first month I’ve known him, I’ve gotten 2 tattoos: it’s not really representative of me, because it’s not something I usually do or in fact have ever done before! He just seems to have come into my life where I am doing more exciting things than usual.  Does that mean that as a person I’m changing, I’m stronger and now able to realise the things that have always been in my head?  Or is it all just about timing?  People who see me now see me as a smoker, but I’ve only been smoking for two years.  It’s funny to get my head around the difference in ideas of me that my new friends have, with those that are held by people who’ve known me for years.  Who is closer to the real me? I think there’s a little truth in both… This body I’m wearing apparently looks so different but it feels the same to me: I enjoy the reactions I inspire now, but it’s still a little alien to me despite the fact that I have tried so hard and finally am reaping the rewards of being a little braver, a little edgier, more attractive.  And where do I go from here?  What happens next?  This new body of mine that I’m wearing, this person inside that’s a mixture of everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve become… how will I change next?  What does the future hold in store?

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façades.

July 18, 2009

Driving home on the way back from my nan’s (oh, conundrum solved; we decided to choose a picture of my grandad for the funeral plaque after all), i catch glimpses of myself in shop windows, in the wing mirror and in people’s faces as we drive by.  I have big dark Prada glasses, a vaguely tanned face, black hair and a fitted black Zara top on, and we have a black Hyundai coupé.  I love the way it looks (everything matches!) but at the same time I see people looking and I wonder what judgment they make.  Most people who look just look away, occasionally you get the odd stare but that could tell you more about their own temperament than about what they think of you.  It’s the occasional extra rev of their car at the traffic lights, the look-look away-subtle double take that gives away someone’s competitive nature, their arrogance or insecurity.  You can never be sure which one it is, but the fact that I can elicit a reaction at all makes me feel a little bit powerful.

I’ve always been someone who can elicit reactions, since at school.  Praise from my teachers, makeups and breakups with my peers, hotly-debated criticisms of my voice / sexuality / fashion choices… I don’t know why, but I’ve never been able to blend in and I’ve always been a topic of conversation and rumour.  Without even doing anything on purpose half the time, I was noteworthy.  And I would much rather that, as someone with aspirations to fame, than to blend into the background – but at the same time, I was never desperate for the gossip, it all seemed to happen by accident.  I have not worked at the Perfume Shop since June 4th, but when I last went in 2 weeks ago to see everyone, there was a barrage of news for me, and also criticism of my bag and of a couple of things I had done wrong a month and a half ago.  I guess I play on people’s minds.

I realise that by this point I sound incredibly conceited, but what I have always been hyper-aware of is image. I remember a long time ago reading an interview with Christina Aguilera, and she said something very true: you have to conduct yourself as a product for consumption.  Every single thing you say, do, wear, don’t say, don’t do, don’t wear, listen to, don’t listen to etc. becomes a part of your persona.  Anything that is done in public becomes a part of your image and the conception of “who you are”.  So you need to be happy with yourself, because if you’re not happy with anything you’re doing or not doing, you’re effectively lying to yourself and those around you.  Every day that we step out of the house and come into contact with others, in a way we are consumed by the public.  You don’t have to be famous for that to happen; how many times have you seen people walking past you down the street or in the mall, and made a snap judgement about them based on their clothing or their shoes or their walk or their accent?  We all do it. And genuine or not, façade or reality, the image we project is the summary of ourselves we portray to the world.  If somebody had one tweet (140 characters) to summarise their impression of you, what would it say?  If you had that same tweet to summarise your impression of yourself at any given moment, what would that tweet say?

The power that I mentioned at the end of the first paragraph stems, I believe, from an awareness of these reactions that we are able to elicit.  The façade I try to give off at most, if not all times, is one of icy confidence.  I have an interlude on my forthcoming Quiet Storm album called “Theory”, in which I briefly explain why I have grown to like designer clothes. The status of wealth that labels emit, whether true or false, gives out a certain image that can protect the inner me.  Whether I’m happy or depressed, whether I am feeling insecure about my body or thinking about my family, the image I portray is teflon confidence. I guess in a word, it’s my armour, and I use people’s presumptions to my advantage.  I know the real me, my friends who have penetrated beyond the façade know the real me, and know that I am deeper than Prada and Armani.  The rest of the world just knows I look fly, and that’s exactly how I like it.

I often get mocked for my vanity by family, friends and colleagues alike.  I’m always checking in mirrors (only glances, but I happily admit I glance quite often – when no mirror is available, the back of my ipod is most handy) that my hair is fine, my body is complimented by what I wear, my lips don’t look dry, that all is well.  That’s who I am, and that is not a façade!  But I am my own harshest critic.  I don’t go to the gym and wear what labels I wear solely because I want to fit a stereotype or be accepted socially.  I don’t seem to be able to fit a stereotype even when I do want to, and social acceptance seems to come to me as a thing of luck in any case – I am thankful to have family and friends around me in whom I can confide, even if sometimes I prefer to let my façade do the talking because there are things I want to keep to myself.  I exercise and work to my own diet (which you won’t find in any magazine, partly because it’s just a bit crazy and uneven!) because I have a drive to be the best I can be.  I can accept criticism if it’s something I’ve already conceived (which most of the time it is) because then it’s a work in progress that I’m aware of and looking to fix.  What throws me for a loop is the rare occasion when I’ve been completely misconstrued, misunderstood, or somebody has made a judgement that I couldn’t have seen coming in a million years.  Those occasions are very rare, but it’s at those times when my façade might slip, because I am taken by surprise.  Of course, it’s food for thought, and I probably do devote too much time to what other people think, but I see my own self-improvement (or masturbation, to quote Tyler Durden) as resulting from an exchange of ideas.  Sometimes criticism is ridiculously invasive, but other times it can be constructive.  At the end of the day it’s my decision to do something about it or not, and the decision I make is in order to carve out my identity and benefit me, not anyone else.  That’s why I choose to portray myself the way I do, wear the clothes I wear, sing the songs I sing, go where I go.  If I’m happy with the final product, then whatever people think is secondary… at least on the outside.  Of course, we all have insecure moments, but then who is really happy 100% of the time?  As long as people are thinking that I’m happy / successful / sexy / non-stick, then the façade is working 😉