I just shaved my beard. I know, that’s a thrilling start to an anecdote. Hear me out.
I’ve had a beard on and off for the past year, so when I went clean faced I expected someone to notice. Men are, after all, just as vain about their beards as women tend to be over a new hair style. We like to be acknowledged for our bravery in getting a pixie or a Mohawk, dyeing it road paint yellow or shaving a cuss word into it, or just growing a beard despite the frequent jokes the wearer is likely to endure whilst the beard is getting past the first stages. (At those times an epic beard can and will look like childish wisps of wheat-colored carpet lint.)
So when I found, after two days, that no one had commented on my smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt babyface, I casually asked a friend, “So, whaddaya think?”
She hadn’t even noticed. I instinctively made the face of a sulking child who is surviving on 4 hours of sleep and just as many scoffed candy bars when he is told to “calm down and stop jumping”. I was bothered, more so than I wanted to admit.
But the realization is that we, as humans, don’t pay too much attention to what other people look like. Contrary to stereotype, I think women are just as guilty of this as men. I’ve known girls and boys who spend far too much time preparing their daily outfit. One fashion-conscious friend, when she realized too late that she was wearing the exact same ensemble two days in a row (exam stress–believe it), expected people to notice. No one had commented, so she assumed they were assuming who knows what about her personality–from a night spent in a strange man’s apartment to laziness. The truth is no one commented because no one cared. We do these self-evaluations in a mirror for our own benefit and no one else’s. We may trick ourselves into believing that we’re checking our hair or makeup for the other person’s sake, just to give them something easy on the eyes. But we’re just forming a habit of looking in the mirror and doing all the adjustments and self-assessments that soon become necessary before we can leave home.
I think this realization takes the pressure off. People aren’t that judgmental. If they do judge you purely on appearance they need to get out of their high school clique mentality. If you, dear reader, are in high school…well, sorry about that. Just ignore them. It’s what I do with the Sarah Palin types and it has done no end of good for my happiness quotient.