shaping perception

One morning when I got out of bed and went to brush my teeth, a random memory resurfaced from the depths of my brain. As I stood in front of the mirror, I remembered a random quiz I took when I was younger – maybe in early adolescence or at some point in my teenage years.

It wasn’t anything academic – far from it, in fact. It was one of those personality quizzes that seemed so popular back in those days (perhaps because no one really knew who they were and hence grasped at anything that might tell them, or that might affirm what they hoped to be true) 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything as exciting as “what mythical creature is your spirit animal?” but simply something along the lines of “what does the shape of your head say about you?”

Actually, come to think of it, maybe it wasn’t a quiz, since that would be a pretty short quiz (?) Maybe it was an article on one of those websites that had those quizzes (?)

Well, anyway, I don’t remember a lot about it other than it existed in some form, and that I had never contemplated the shape of my face/head before that day. I’m sure I read whatever it said, and I’m sure it would’ve been written in a way that sounded really convincing, but surely, even at that young age, I couldn’t have taken it seriously…

At least, I don’t remember any broader impact than suddenly realising that people’s heads/faces were different shapes and sizes. Honestly, it’s not something I had consciously noticed or considered before. And it seems I’d all but forgotten about it until that random morning, standing in front of the bathroom mirror.

It’s interesting, though, how a silly little quiz (or article or whatever it was) could make people think that something not very important in determining one’s character and life is actually, secretly, a very important determinant in everything. Imagine all the other adolescents who might have read this quiz/article/thing, and suddenly bemoaned the shape of their head.

I don’t think I’ve ever written a story or other text in which I describe the shape of a person’s head. I also don’t recall reading books with any significant descriptions of head shapes, unless it is as a comparison point for some other feature, like their ears or beard or body or something.

If you picked five people in my life at random, and asked me to describe the shape of their heads/faces, I’m not sure if I could tell you. I’m sure, however, that I could tell you if they have a radiant smile or expressive eyes or … Actually, that’s pretty much all I really take in about someone.

I could probably tell you the colour of their hair and their skin, and maybe the colour of their eyes, but even these things aren’t important if I was trying to introduce them to you as someone I admire, someone I adore, or someone I’m simply good friends with.

Writing this reminded me of a tea room conversation at work in which a few colleagues of mine were discussing appearance and grooming. Two colleagues said they hardly used mirrors, sometimes leaving the house without so much as a glance to check their appearance. This isn’t to say that they’re careless and show up to work looking scruffy and dishevelled (which they don’t – they always look neat and presentable to me) but that they seem to have the right attitude about it.

Yes, appearance is important to some extent, especially if you interact face-to-face with customers/clients, but I’ve never judged service to be unprofessional or otherwise sub-par because the person serving me wasn’t wearing make-up, or evidently forgot to shave that morning, or had an odd-shaped head.


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