Well no… not me me… him me, if you like, or her me… or even you me.
Perhaps I should clarify.
The husband and I were out and about yesterday, shop-window-gazing and taking a walk in the sunshine. We do that sometimes, to talk and for stimulus. My walk stimulated today’s thought.
We were walking around, and we spotted the most extraordinary woman. Everyone else seemed to spot her too.
When a crowd notices one person, it can be for any number of reasons, but all of them are to do with the visual. None of those visual cues applied to this particular person.
She was able-bodied and not terribly good-looking, and she seemed totally oblivious to the impact she was having on the people around her. She was going about her business, doing what we were doing. She was not wearing make-up or hair products, so far as I could tell, and her clothes were not out of the ordinary.
This woman was not saying Look at me.
So why were we looking?
Many of us are very caught up in the impression we make. We think about what to wear, how to groom ourselves, and we think about what people will think about us. Some of us have driven so far down this road that we tend to the principle of Look at me. We conform to expectation, and if and when we don’t conform it is because we want to be noticed, because we want to shock, or because we want to be identified with a group.
Kids want to be accepted for who they are… I hear it all the time, and yet, so many of them choose to wear some kind of uniform, to conform. The phenomenon is quite pronounced with goths, geeks, chavs and all manner of young people being easily identifiable by their choice of clothes and grooming. They’re not the only ones who are guilty of this, of course. We all are. Red slacks betray a certain middle-class, middle-aged privilege, and there are plenty of Next or Hobbs shoppers conforming to the stereotypes of what middle-aged women should look like. Then, there are the hipsters of course, and the non-conformists who all seem not to conform in the same ways.
We’re all guilty of saying Look at me to some degree or another.
All except for the woman I saw yesterday while I was bibbling about.
To my eyes, at least, she didn’t seem to be saying Look at me. To her credit, this woman appeared to be saying THIS is me.
This rather large, rather plain woman was noticed for herself. Without grooming and wearing a pair of cut off denim shorts and a vest, this woman appeared totally unselfconscious about the image she was projecting into the world or about other people’s expectations.
I watched the faces watching her.
No one was shocked or upset by her appearance. No one showed any signs that they thought she should cover her ample backside. No one seemed remotely put out by her voluptuous belly or ample bosom. People noticed her, but they didn’t judge her. Many of them smiled, to themselves and to each other. This was a woman simply going about her business, unaware of the impact she was having.
|This is me! Without the grooming.|
We should all have such simple confidence in our bodies.
Some people are always saying Look at me in the choices they make about their images. Some, I suppose, are saying Don’t look at me.
I wish more of us were saying This is me.