July 21st, 2012
You know what I find so…annoying? AND amazing?
The lies that go on in people’s portrayals of themselves.
Of course, this sort of thing is rife in the media, with the airbrushing of models who are already stick-thin, and maybe have some acne that needs to be brushed out so that they can look absolutely FLAWLESS.
And THAT’S NOT REAL. NO ONE is flawless.
Or perhaps, put a better way…there is no one RIGHT way to appear. If you have a mole somewhere (as I do), or a wrinkle somewhere, or a gray hair, or even, God forbid, some dimples of CELLULITE (and yes, I have ALL OF THESE), this does not make you ugly and worthless as a person.
But we’ve so bought into the bullshit that we always look to put our best foot forward physically, based on what society tells us our best foot – or face, or body – should be.
And I can’t claim to be completely immune to those images either. We ALL make judgments on people based on appearance. It’s natural. It’s part of our makeup. We look at someone and subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, make judgments about how they must live, what they must do, how they must act, how educated they must be…often before having ever said a word to, or interacted with, the person. And when we don’t even get the opportunity to share that word, we may never know how right OR wrong our perceptions are.
BUT…it’s a given fact that in our society, there are certain appearances that say “professional” or “gangster” or “lawyer/hedge fund manager” or “IT geek” or “whore” or whatever. That last one, of course, is VERY controversial, because how a woman dresses does not, in itself, make her a whore as much as it makes the men who SEE her wish she was one and could service them. But even fellow females who argue vociferously about a woman’s right to wear what she wants and not be judged or, God forbid, assaulted – and they are RIGHT about that – cannot argue that they themselves would have very different emotional responses to THIS:
The woman at the top COULD be a total slut, and the woman at the bottom COULD be a PhD student who is posing for an art student. Really…we just don’t KNOW. Right?
But what I DO hate is when people show pictures that have NOTHING to do with what they look like in real life. Of course, this practice is rampant on dating sites, where people post photos of them looking Ab Fab, and then you realize it’s them FROM TWENTY YEARS AGO. And now, maybe they’re heavier, or stouter, or more wrinkled, or grayer, or…whatever. But for all intents and purposes, it IS a lie. It’s not what you look like NOW. It’s YOU…it is YOU. But it’s not the CURRENT you, and you’re throwing it out there because you think, “this is when I looked hot. This is when I looked my best. So I’m going to throw THAT picture up there.”
But it’s not you…not the CURRENT you anyhow. Show the current you and for God’s sake, LIKE that person.
How this became a huge pet peeve, however, is when I noticed people doing this professionally. We’ve all seen it: executives with these bios and accompanying pictures in which they look like lean mean machines, or beautiful and dynamic professional women, and then you see them in-person or see a current picture and realize that they look TOTALLY different.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not above a little Photo-shopping, I DO get that, especially for professional purposes, you need to appear a certain way. I’ve done the whole corporate song-and-dance of bullshit. But then, if appearing that way is really an integral part of how you earn your money, then you need to do your best to look that way in real life. I don’t know, it’s just my personal opinion.
This all hit me with renewed clarity when I went to see a therapist recently in NYC. I had visited her website, and found it to be professional, appealing, and offering the right mix of soothing words and psychiatric acumen.
And then, there was her picture. And I did exactly what we all do: I looked at it, and thought, gee, I wouldn’t mind putting my whole mental fucked-updedness in this woman’s hands. She can help me. She looks so…PROFESSIONAL. And COMPASSIONATE.
Because THIS was what the picture on her website looked like (note: this is NOT an actual photo of HER. I have NO idea who this woman is):
So, I did what any
person in dire need of mental assistance sane person would do, and I made an appointment.
Perhaps the fact that she called me leaving 4 frantic messages about needing to confirm, should have clued me in to the fact that it was POSSIBLE…that she could be a tad more insane than I am.
I know…scary thought, right?
But I confirm to CALM HER THE FUCK DOWN (all the while thinking that if I could just do this to MYSELF, I wouldn’t have to shell out $300 for this bullshit.)
And I show up for the appointment, which is in an office building. There is no waiting room in the office building, so I am just… standing in a very long hallway full of closed doors, which could be a metaphor for life in itself. It was one of those hallways that was SO long, and the walls were pure white with NO decoration whatsoever, that I began to feel that I had stepped into the elevator and stepped out into a mental ward.
Eventually she shows up. Still happy to see me, because despite my messages, she still thought it was possible I wasn’t coming. (And I thought I had rejection issues…)
And she gets closer and closer to me in this long hallway of doom, and as she smiles at me I think…this is not what she looked like on the website! Who the fuck is THIS?
I was very very disturbed.
You’re supposed to be HELPING me with my mental issues, not creating NEW ONES! WHAT THE FUCK? So I’m shaking her hand and smiling at her and making small talk and all the while I’m wondering, “Is this really her? Maybe she killed the therapist and is pretending to BE her! I saw that in an Alfred Hitchcock episode once! Or maybe she is a therapist but totally made up her whole degree and history…any asshole can put up a website! Have I been conned? Is she going to take my $300 and buy liquor or drugs? And why am I about to go into a private room with this woman, with no one else around? What…if…she….KILLS…me?”
The session went…okay. But I still felt…lied to somehow. Because the visual she showed me of herself was not the visual she was in real life. And it shouldn’t matter, but the other side of it is, if it doesn’t matter, then put WHO YOU ARE out there. Not who you were, not who you want to be, who you ARE.
You see all my crazy photos? That’s ME. It’s ME, NOW. If I show you a photo of me from 5 years ago, I’ll tell you that. If it’s from 20 years ago, I’ll say that. If I’m dressed up as some corporate
whore salesperson, I’ll tell you that was from THAT period of my life. I am a MILLION different people, and I DO have different looks, so depending on how I feel on any given day I may appear buttoned up or in slut mode. But…it’s all me. None of it is a lie. If I’m feeling predominantly intelligent or sexy or sick or crazy or whatever, that’s what I throw out there.
But I guess I have that luxury of being able to change it up when I want to. When you’re in a job where your appearance DOES count, and what you project is what people expect to see in THAT situation, then for God’s sake…BE that. Don’t show me corporate psychiatrist on your website and then show up looking like West Village fruitcake. NO. NO FUCKING NO. STOP it. It’s not FAIR to my psyche.
I know…this was a long one, mainly because I felt there were many layers of it to peel away. And also because I am sensitive to the fact that people can change over time and project different things at different times…I do it all the time and it’s one of the things I love most about myself. But…you can’t do that in some professional role. You can’t be acting as a lawyer and showing up in court dressed like a bag lady. You can’t be a doctor and show up looking like a pimp to surgery. BE THE PROFESSION YOU ARE TO THE PEOPLE THAT ARE FUCKING PAYING YOU TO BE THAT. NO, IT DOESN’T MEAN SHIT, and maybe you CAN still perform surgery with your Pimp Daddy clothes on. I DON’T GIVE A FUCK. SHOW UP AS A DOCTOR OR I’M OUT.
- Pet Peeve #346 (drinkleidownpassout.com)