If you want to be a certain sort of person, you need to think about your appearance. It might seem petty but it has a huge effect on how the world treats you, how people perceive you. Also, that is the person you see every time you walk by something reflective. Do you look boring? Do you look interesting? Do you look like a librarian, a doctor, a rockstar, a genius, a punk, a goth, a professor of heavy metal studies?
If this is the way you are presenting yourself to the world, you need to take some time to analyze it. Tweak little things, or change important elements. But it absolutely must be considered.
A long time ago, I was struggling with my job in advertising, since I was perpetually stressed and exhausted, and had no time or energy for my own art. I caught my reflection in the subway window one morning – I looked gray, brown, at least 20 years older. That was disturbing. I started dying my hair, wearing a little makeup to work, and finding slightly more interesting clothing. How could I be an artist if I didn’t see myself as one?
Who are you at a glance?
If what you want to be has no obvious outward appearance – suppose you want to be a dolphin psychologist – then find something with a dolphin on it as your symbol of the goal you are trying to achieve. I have no idea what a psychologist would look like appearance wise, but still, that is what you should see in the mirror, that is how should present yourself.
It is far too easy to get stuck in a rut. You wear what you have always worn, you grab what is on sale, you don’t think about it very much. Take the time right now to stop and think. What persona are you displaying to the world? Whatever you wear to sleep, to do housework, that’s your business of course. But when in public, what would you want to say about yourself to strangers at a glance?
Sometimes thinking, “what will people think?” is a productive thing. You have to remember that most of the people you run into every day are imaginary. If you don’t know their name and you’ll likely never see or recognize them again, they aren’t real. (We will get into more about the imaginary people in another post.)
You really cannot care what people think, but you should give them a direction.
If your passion is something personal, that you don’t want the whole neighbourhood to know about, keep a personal talisman of some kind, or wear something that is meaningful to you, but innocuous to others. For example, if your goal is to become amazing at S&M rope bondage, perhaps you could find a keychain with rope on it, or a tiny necklace with a “love knot”. Only you need to know what it really means.
Perhaps you’re not into fashion – that’s fine. I don’t care what’s on the runways, or the current trends. I don’t have the money to buy a new wardrobe every season. I wear a lot of black, plain clothing that mixes and matches. I use accessories, makeup, and my bright red hair to present myself as an “artsy person” to the world.
Accessories are a quick, easy, affordable way to add personality to your look. I highly recommend digging around on eBay. I’ve found leather studded cuffs for $7, fascinating pendants for $2, and killer sunglasses for $12 – with free shipping, but since it’s from China, it might take 8-14 weeks.
Here are some links to give you ideas:
If you have lots of money, check out all of the original handmade things on Etsy.com – buying higher quality and local would be better, of course. But for those of us with limited funds, we have to make do.
One day long ago when I was looking particularly pale in the work washroom mirror, I wished I had been wearing mascara. It pops my eyes, makes me look more awake. If it has this big of an effect, why hadn’t I been wearing it every day? It’s such a small effort, to spend an extra 30 seconds on my face every morning. But it makes a world of difference to how I feel about myself. Confidence is a sketchy little animal, and everything you can do to boost it is a good idea.
If you’re unsure of your makeup skills, do a YouTube search – there are so many makeup tutorials your head might spin. Try a few new things with the makeup you already have – most of the time it’s technique, not product, that gets results.
I now have four versions of hair and makeup. Popping out to the store is a one minute eyebrow & eyeliner flick. Going to work requires 5 minutes of basic makeup and a few minutes fixing my hair. A party or date would likely take 10-15 minutes, and crazy but mostly sweat proof stage makeup takes around 20 minutes (I also do my vocal warmups during this time). It’s always worth it – take the time to make yourself feel as fabulous as you can, and be the right face you need for the destination and activity. Just be sure to start early, because being late to an event due to poor time management is lame. If you’re testing out a new look, try it a few days before the big event, so you know how long it will take, and work the bugs out ahead of time.
If you’re in the midst of changing and improving yourself, you need to look inward, but don’t forget to also take the time to look outward. We live in a visual world. Who are you at first glance?
Who do you want to be? How do you want the world to see you?
What little changes can you make to realize this vision of yourself?
What little tokens or talismans can you keep around you as your vision charms?