Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Power of Descriptions
Tall, freckled, mousy-haired woman: "Hey, Edna, I haven't seen your Ruthie since she was in kindygarden. What does she look like now that she's all growed up?"
Short, fat, frizzy-haired woman: "Well, I reckon she looks a lot like me - petite but maybe a little chubby, with wavy hair and glasses."
I did a double take. Was she serious? I would NOT have described the 200-lb woman speaking as "petite" or even "a little chubby" in a million years. Maybe "obese," "rotund," or "dumpy."
Nor would I have thought of her thin, wispy hair as "wavy" - I think "curly" might have been too generous. Think Brillo Pad or Chia Pet here.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that few of us probably describe ourselves as others do - because we perceive ourselves in a way that preserves as much self-esteem as possible. And that's a good thing. If we don't think of ourselves in a positive light, who else will?
I think it's time to tweak the way I think of people - even in the privacy of my own head. I would much rather give someone the dignity that comes along with being "svelte" as opposed to "skinny;" "big boned" rather than "behemouth;" "mature" instead of "old;" "assertive" instead of "pushy."
And I hope they do me the same service.
Your frosted (not graying),
flowing-haired (not split-ended),
healthy (not plump),
energetic (not ADD),
au natural (no make-up on at the present),
friend (even if you don't know me, you'd like me better if you thought of me as a friend),