I’m in a business where I am always made aware of the appearance of whomever it is I am working with on any given project. I have not only worked for many years in film and television but also for fashion and yes, even the everyday man (or woman).
There was an article in the Style Section of the New York Sunday Times recently that talked about how no one is saved by the onslaught of criticisms and comments when one appears in public either for a media appearance or even a book signing. One author revealed how two minutes after she appeared on television for an interview the emails starting pouring in. She said they had a false sense that “you’re not really a person, or that because you are in the public eye, they can say whatever they want.” One viewer tracked down her Facebook page and wrote that she needed to go shopping. Never mind that she was on the road for four months and was broke. She only had two “TV outfits”. By the way, the crime was she appeared twice in the same purple sweater.
On the other end of the spectrum I was at a women’s shelter for a day of beauty to do makeup and hair for a special Sunday dinner. There was one woman who didn’t want to have anything to do with me or her appearance. She usually stayed in her room especially on this particular Sunday. They finally coaxed her out to at least sit and watch. I saw her sitting for hours while everyone else had their turn. She was in her mid 40’s with a face that had seen more than she was willing to express.
I would try to engage her in the conversations and she would respond with a nod of her head but never smiled or indicated that she was even remotely interested in what I was doing. Finally I went over to her and asked her if I could give her a little lip gloss. I promised her I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it but maybe it would brighten her Sunday. She finally agreed and little by little allowed me to do her makeup. I gave her the lip gloss and told her it was her special color. When I showed her the mirror she finally shyly smiled and thanked me.
Later I received an email from the director thanking me for coming. Then she told me what happened after I had left. The women who had first resisted came to her and asked her if I was coming back. It seemed the reason she wanted to stay in her room was because it was her son’s birthday. She hadn’t spoken to him in a number of years and she always had a hard time dealing with it all. But she said that her lip gloss and the way she looked that evening made her feel special. She said she may try to call her son sometime soon just to say hello.
I’m not saying that the lip gloss changed her way of thinking but it did change her attitude, if only for a brief moment, about her appearance and that made her feel better.
I find myself judging what I see in the way of “style” and I realize that is my opinion. I most certainly am not the expert in all that is “stylish” for every individual. If, even for only one brief moment, how people appear to themselves makes them feel special, then I say go for it. Maybe it would be a good idea to keep our snide remarks out of Facebook and be more aware of the fact that how people appear on the outside may just be the tip of what they are feeling on the inside.