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Thread: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

  1. #1
    Cannibal Rights Activist Ophidia's Avatar
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    Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    I asked this in another thread, but it dawned on me that it would make a good debate topic all on its own.

    Why do we care what other people look like? How much they weigh? If they wear fashionable clothing? If they are 'attractive'? What drives us to be so judgmental about another person's appearance? Why does it consume so much of our time and energy? Why do we have entire channels programmed around shows about appearance? Magazines? Industries?

    Me, personally, I'm not appearance driven, but it is useful in distinguishing one individual from the rest of them. For one, I'm near-sighted and don't have any depth perception. Everything looks kind of flat to me. I never notice someone's new hair color or style unless it's a drastic change. I watch body language more than facial expressions because it's hard for me to look people directly in the eye (I've got a lazy eye. It wanders, and usually makes me look like I'm looking over someone's shoulder at rapidly approaching doom or something). I don't care about how much other people weigh beyond some vague sort of 'that can't be healthy' agreement when talking about someone who is either anorexic or like, half a ton being pulled out of their home with a backhoe. I'm fat, but I've been skinny, and I don't feel like skinny people or fat people are offensive. They are people who have little or no bearing upon my existence or who are involved in my life, and even if you're involved in my life then I don't care what you look like as long as you don't smell bad & aren't sick with something contagious. To me, variety makes people interesting. If someone has a truly unique feature, I will remember their name more likely than if they don't stick out. I work with a girl who has sort of a frog-like face. She's nice, cute, and I remember her name because I think to myself 'Frog-Face Michelle', differentiating her from 'Supervisor Michelle' and 'Cocktail Waitress Michelle'. If Supervisor Michelle put on a cocktail waitress uniform, I couldn't distinguish her from Cocktail Waitress Michelle. Frog-Face Michelle? I'd totally know her.

    So it's weird to me, the caring if someone else looks a different way. Appearance, to me, isn't that important that I'd waste a huge amount of brain space on it. About the only part of it I 'get' is physical attraction. You can't always determine what you're going to find attractive. I also understand certain features setting off genetic compatibility alarms, indicators of good health, that kind of thing. Those are instincts coming from the alligator brain - I don't get where the judgmental attitudes are coming from.
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  2. #2
    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    Really good point. I don't know the answer. I couldn't give a pair of foetid dingo's kidneys what people look like or their size. I'm sick and tired of people judging on what they think they know just by looking at other people. It's like when people say to me 'But your eyes look perfectly okay' and I ask them how in hell they can tell what's happening when they can't see the retina, optic nerve or blood cells.

    I think it's all a question of trying to feel superior. I worked once in an office where several jibes were made about my weight (and I wasn't really all that overweight then) - none too subtle hints were being made about why I didn't go on a diet and in the end I ask why they didn't take some classes and study a bit.
    'Why should I?' was the reply.
    'Because you're stupid and thick and your stupidity offends me,' I answered.
    That shut things up pretty damn quick. ;-)
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    One of the really good things about working closely with large numbers of people over a fairly long period of time is that it becomes painfully obvious that whatever qualities one decides are "good" or "bad" have very little to do with the way a person looks - unless one is actually judging good and bad based on appearance.

    Yes, some times something like a physical deformity can be startling at first, but once you get to know a person - really know them AS a person - the deformity fades quickly into the background and their actual personal qualities become foremost.

    I don't think I judge people based on looks, at least not for very long. And learning to be "appearance blind" has improved my life, I'd say.
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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    I don't care.

    Overall though, I think in countries like here, where we have public health insurance, it's in our best interest to keep people in better health. Having a high obesity rate makes it more expensive for all of us when you're paying public health insurance (or when it comes out of taxes) and all money and costs are pooled together. I DO think the focus should be on health and not stuff like BMI though...some people are technically overweight and perfectly healthy, and that's fine.

    Some people say stuff like "what about smoking, drinking a lot, and workaholics" when stuff like this is mentioned. I want to be clear that I think these are all also big problems (probably even bigger ones than weight), and it's best to reduce their prevalence in society.

    I guess mostly this doesn't really apply to the US, as health care doesn't work the same way there.

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    One with the Force ChainLightning's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    Appearances can be deceiving.

    But it's a fast way to assess, however wrongly, some of the basic needs a person has, when interacting with others. I think there's this carnal, animal-like tendency to be around comfort, safety and beauty, in others. Three traits that are vastly subjective - beauty is in the ye of the beholder, for example. I don't think it's necessarily bad but I think it can be quite harmful and definitely degrading in almost every circumstance.

    The best example I can come up with, for judging someone on appearance, is a police officer. We're taught, and we teach our children, that the police are SAFE. Police are someone to turn to for help. Uniforms are what round that vision out, quickly, and they're easily identifiable.

    Looking for a "mate-for-life" or a "mate-for-right-now" also fits into that, in a sense, for the required familiarity. As well as the self-interest notion of being with someone 'you can look at without grimacing', so to speak.

    Of course, that instant recognition, the appearance-based assumption, regardless of it's circumstances, can be wrong, can be fooled, can be used against someone to belittle or abuse them. Hideous misuse of a need-based appraisal.

    And it's that misuse that, I think it's safe to say, everyone is MOST familiar with. To me, the reason 'why' is simple: humans. Predators, superficial ***ts, liars, manipulators... they've all proven one thing. As a species, we're not as 'advanced' as we like to pretend we are.




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    Sr. Member DeadJellyfish's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    Oh gosh, I always hated those shows like "What Not to Wear". You can see that the person was happy before this TV crew pulled them aside and started criticizing the way they looked. They appear to be happier after the "transformation", but the truth is, they now have one more thing to worry about in their lives. They will feel like they need to dress normal and be trendy to be accepted. That idea is not okay. So what if she likes to wear a fanny pack? Or wear black lipstick? Or wear sneakers with her skirt? She's happy and comfortable in the way she dresses and looks.

    As far as the way your body and face look, I love diversity. I find "flaws" beautiful because it's who you are. And if you think about it, they really aren't flaws. Flaws are just a concept created by society (that is, as long as it doesn't affect your health). I find guys with big noses attractive. But that's not what most of society finds "beautiful". And I like chubby guys because they're so nice to cuddle, but you're not going to find a chubby guy posing for Calvin Klein. I feel like there needs to be more diversity in modeling and advertisements.

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    Mostly Harmless nbdy's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    I think it is easier to claim not to care than to actually not care. How many of us exit our homes without looking in the mirror? Without deciding which cloths to wear? Does anyone simply reach into the closet or drawer blindly and wear whatever they happen to grab? Without at least washing the face? Appearance generally signals something about who you are, whether deceptively or accurately. I think people are more prone to being fashion clones when they are younger because they are not quite certain who they are so they try out different prepackaged styles to explore it. Most seem to find a look and evolve it into something uniquely their own as they mature. Fashion choices can identify membership in a particular group, such as the expensive handbag line that says "I have enough money to be frivolous." It may signify identification with a particular philosophy, like rasta wear. Even some one like me with a wardrobe largely selected for resilience and not giving me a rash is sending a signal -- "I am practical" "I am modest" etc. No guarantees that others will read it that way. It is important to me that I am clean, wouldn't dream of meeting some one for dinner without showering first, so apparently I want to be sure the message "I have good hygiene" is loud and clear. I am digressing. The point is that the way we present ourselves non-verbally is as important as anything we say.

    Consider for a moment the online equivalent -- choosing an avatar. Did any of you not think about it a little bit? Why or why not?

  8. #8
    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    Actually, I do reach into the wardrobe blindly most of the time. You should see the stuff I wear out.... odd shoes, odd socks (why are they always the purple and tangerine ones, I wonder?)

    I can't tell one item from another, it all looks like porridge. So there's not much point worrying. And because of that I really don't care what other people look like. It's none of my business. There may be all sorts of reasons why they appear the way they do. I'd prefer to get to know them first.

    I use the same picture for my avatar everywhere. It's several years old, but it stays unless I lose the file.
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

  9. #9
    Supporter Jembru's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    Interesting, this was the phone-in topic on This Morning today. They said that females apparently spend more time checking out other females to see how they compare, than they do males.

    I guess I do check other women but they invariably always just make me feel worse about myself. I have pretty bad dysmorphia so other women look fine and normal to me. I get overwhelmed sometimes so rarely go out. Everyone has such nice hair, great clothes, look comfortable in their skin.. it doesn't matter that I know that a good number of these girls only look as great as they do because they too feel pressure to be perfect, because lets face it, we don't just judge ourselves apparently.

    I can't deal with the pressure of knowing that while I feel I'm a weird shape with horrible legs and a vile face and dry dull frizzy hair, other people are looking at me and reassuring themselves that it could be worse, they could look like me. Even more frustrating that they probably think I look kinda chubby, totally unaware of the fact that I actually eat very little and several times a week force myself to throw up. I work out a lot too. For what, to bearly look normal. This is why I stay at home most nights. When I go out I can feel everyone's eyes on me. Even shopping, which I can no longer do alone: I need someone with me now, I feel everyone checking me out, seeing my horrible thighs and feeling better about their own. Well I'm glad I make others happy because I'm kinda dead inside. I freaking hate my body. I hate every last inch of my body and I'm not terribly fond of the personality that rides around in it. It's kinda why my resolution meant so much to me. If I had succeeded, then maybe I'd have had one thing, one feature or at least ability, that I could be proud of. Even then, I just feel that everyone is laughing about me behind my back. Wez is trying to get me to do a mini series with him. His ideas are amazing, but I really don't think I have the mental and emotional fitness to be making videos and speaking Japanese: showing the entire world the two areas I am most paranoid and self-conscious about...

    So to answer.. I care about other people's appearance because it kills me that I can't be more like them.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Just a side note for nbdy: I haven't washed my face for 3 days in a row now. No real reason. I've remembered to brush my teeth so it's not as though I haven't been at the sink. I haven't worn makeup for about a week either. Sometimes I just don't see the point of grooming. I used to believe I'd find beauty in a bottle, but there really isn't a product in the world that could help me look and feel normal.

    Think I had better go and give my face a scrub then...
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

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    Sr. Member Sarkana night's Avatar
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    Re: Why Do You Care About Someone Else's Appearance?

    Quote Originally Posted by perzephone View Post
    If they are 'attractive'?
    That is a question about instinct. Or old instinct and human acting tells us to try to find a mate, so we can get children and keep our species alive. This is only possible if we find someone attractive, which we would like to live together with.

    This old instinct has (along with the mother-instinct) survived through time, and because it's so important it'll most likely continue to exist.
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