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Monday 20 August 2012

You can't go out looking like that.......

I have been pondering this overnight and have decided I owe a big debt of gratitude to my friend, Ali.  We met nearly 20 years ago and she is my polar opposite, short(ish), lusciously curvy, curly hair, exotic and ALL woman.  Well, now I have curly hair but until a year ago, I was tall, straight up and down, straight hair and....well....straight.

Ali has a sister and is a girly girl.  She takes care with her appearance, goes to the hairdresser (without extreme resistance - I would rather go to the dentist), wears make up, knows what clothes suit her, dazzles at parties and is loved by everyone for her warm, witty company.  She notices what you are wearing, if you look tired, if you have lost weight, your shoes, your hair cut, your appearance.  She doesn't do this in a critical way.  She just notices.  She is what I now call a physiological person.

I rarely notice much about physical appearance unless it so obvious - loss of a couple of stone (but rarely when people have put on weight - my age group tend to look much better with a few extra pounds!), a radical hair cut from waist length hair to a crop, that sort of thing.  I rarely notice what someone is wearing - I would be hopeless having to give a description to the police if someone (God forbid) went missing - and generally can tell much more about someone's wellbeing by the look in their eyes and their general body language/posture and the tone of the voice.  A sort of psychological/aural person.

So why am I pondering this question?  The Fairy Blogmother's latest blog has bought home a couple of things to me.  Firstly, that subconsciously, I may have a hang up about the amount of food I eat in front of other people because I worry that they will think I am greedy - natch.  Time to let that one go.   Secondly, I am still learning stuff about myself as I near 50 that surprises me.  Thirdly, that perhaps I should make a greater effort to notice what people are looking like physiologically because people like compliments about physical appearance and it appears to soothe them (I HATE it when anyone says anything, however nice, about what I look like!).  Fourthly, I need to make a greater effort with my girls about their physical stuff and my physical stuff. (Note to self, going to the supermarket in shirt with holes in it, trackie bums and crocs is NOT acceptable)

I have never been a great make-up wearer.  I did go through a phase at 16 (which my mother has never let me forget and scarred me for life) and haven't really bothered since.  I have just ignored (not purposefully, more in a total disinterest so it doesn't penetrate the brain) my children's attempts to get me to "tidy myself up" a bit.  I did buy some Touche Eclat foundation last week.  It was expensive and comes in a pretty bottle and I intend to keep it for "best".  This has two outcomes.  It will get used about 3 times a year and go off, long before the bottle is finished or the girls will borrow it and I will go into meltdown in 3 years time because there is none left.  I also bought a foundation brush.  Partly to keep G happy and make her think that, this time, I really was going to start taking care of the way I look but, more importantly, make-up really irritates my skin.  Ergo, if I want to go out looking my "best", my face would look great and my hands like bananas, somewhat spoiling the effect.

So back to Ali.  Why do I owe her this debt of gratitude?  I think she understands that, however hard I try, I am much more interested in working out what makes a person tick by talking to them and observing their reactions and physical cues, than in what they are wearing and where they got their highlights done.  So she gently gives me social cues that I would otherwise miss

"Doesn't T's haircut really suit her, Charl?" "You look so brown.  Have you been on holiday?" etc

This means I don't scare people by launching straight into talking about brains or genetics or what they think of the crisis in the NHS.  I am reminded to ease into a gentler conversation about the weather, or holidays or children.  Perhaps I am autistic (although I score around 10 on the ASD test) or perhaps I have visualisation problems.

Whatever it is, I have decided to not go anywhere social without Ali arc welded to my side.

Unless, it is an eating disorder get together because FEAST parents tend to do physiological as well as psychological.


  1. I also score incredibly low on the ASD spectrum, am so useless at small talk it's frightening. I am makeup free as a rule and only buy non-blue jeans so I can get away with wearing them to work. In fact, I'm still struggling with the parts of your blog that tell me that makeup goes off and one shouldn't wear t-shirts with holes in to the supermarket! So either I need an Ali or I should only converse with people like you!

  2. Red

    Phew - I thought I may be the only one. xx

  3. I score somewhat high on the AQ - though not as high as I used to do. I think part of the reason why I previously scored so high was because I was scared of the world after having been stuck in AN for so long, had missed out on life and had become rather alienated from my fellow human beings.

    But being a high scorer on the AQ I am pedantic - so I will correct you :D

    The term 'physiological' means functioning. Physiology is the study of function in living organisms - and it incorporates Biochemistry and Anatomy. Do you mean physical rather than physiological?

    I must say that I am something of a people watcher. I find homosapiens quite intriguing (almost as if I am not human... I have always felt more like a cat). Do I notice if they change their appearance? Yes. Do I care that they have changed their appearance? No. I have never compared my physical appearance to others (and like you, wearing make up, fashion etc., are not high on my agenda). However, I do compare myself character-wise to others and this tends to make me self-critical. I always feel I 'should' be more extrovert and less introverted.

    I once wore my pyjamas under a long coat in Winter to go to Sainsbury's. People were staring at me but I didn't really care!

    Btw, are Crocs comfy?

  4. Oh, dear, we are sisters in so many ways. My kids and friends do not believe me when I say I don't notice their haircuts or people's appearances. I'm kind of stupid that way. Even when I put more effort into my appearance it is barely successful and only to meet minimum expectations. I still don't notice other people's clothes or handbags or cars.

    I do, like you, notice behaviors and attitudes. I am aware of interactions and can describe them in detail later. ELT, I totally get the people watching - adore it.

    In the end I think it is better this way but frankly I don't really have a choice so it is self-serving to think of appearances as shallow and ephemeral.

  5. ROFL and messing up her hair with delight.