Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Question 19: How Much Do You Care About Your Appearance?

IMG_5293Last weekend some friends and I discussed appearance. One person was upset because her partner had said that she looked better with make-up on. Another person was upset because her partner had questioned her wearing make-up ... But how much do people care about their own appearance?
Some thoughts on appearance by people in England:
"It's fairly important, 7 out of 10. I'm not a great person for following fashion. I like to look clean and tidy. Sometimes my hair’s a mess and I don’t care. I'm very aware of how you can change your appearance."
“It's quite important. Before I haven’t cared or been over-the-top-silly as a joke. Now I’m more expressive, fluid. Lately I’ve spent time thinking people are beautiful”.
"I'm so uncool it becomes cool."
"I don’t spend much time on it all. Some days I don’t look in the mirror."
"I have a split personality. One part of me could wear the same old T-shirt and shorts all summer, another part of me is very vain. I enjoy clothes and appearance."
"I don’t dress really well, but I care about appearance. I don’t mind spending money on clothes, but I dress down in everyday life. I notice when someone dresses well, but I don’t judge someone if they don’t."
"It used to be more important. I feel I look ok when I make an effort, but am quite critical of my own appearance. I try not to stick out too much."
"I care less about it now, I used to be obsessive. Not that I thought that I looked good, but I didn’t want to frighten anyone ..."
"Like everybody I’d like to feel attractive but I also want to feel comfortable. I would like to loose weight, but am not a gym fan."
Some thoughts on appearance by people in Sweden:
"I've never liked make-up and stuff; I used make-up in high school because everybody else did that like."

"It's more important than I wish it was, especially when it comes to myself, it makes me anxious. However I'm not that obsessed when it comes to other people's appearance, not at all."
"It's quite important, a ritual ... I care quite a lot about how I look. It affects my self esteem ... I'm trying not to be a slave to loads of beauty ideals, but I'm sure I am anyway ... It would be completely wrong not to care at all, it wouldn't be me. Not to care about what clothes I wear would be a bit like hanging IKEA pictures on the wall."
"It's important, but it's not important to be good-looking ... It's important to be healthy and be fresh-looking, clean. I prefer no make-up when it comes to both me and other people. Rather clean comfy clothes than cool and trendy ..."

"It's not that important, but if you care about your appearance ... Most people can look good, but some people do not take care of themselves and then you become ugly." 
"I'm quite an aesthetic-minded person ... I experience the world visually and through music. A big part of my identity is to express myself through my appearance."
"I hardly ever look in the mirror, I never stand in front of a mirror. I always put make-up on quickly. Somehow I like to look nice, but I'm not making a fuss."
"You always want to look as good as possible. Show your best with clothes and hair and such."
"I would not change anything with myself. I'm happy with myself as I am. I'm not spending much time on my appearance, my way of dressing is quite boring. I wish I was more obsessed about my appearance."
My thoughts
I care a great deal about my appearance. I'm not trying to be good-looking or using loads of make-up or shaving in every place a woman is expected to shave, but I'm anxious to have some kind of style. To stick out a bit. Because I felt so invisible and ugly when I grew up ... At the same time I find it very boring with people who look perfect. Then I'd rather look like a too old hairy punk industrial hard rocker with attitude ...

Most people in both Sweden and England said similar things. They cared about their appearance, but were not obsessive. The older they were the less important it was. A Swedish person who lived in England said:
"I think guys dress better in Sweden and care more about their appearance. English guys can be quite scruffy. English girls are quite feminine. They often wear dresses and mini skirts, more so than in Sweden. In Sweden you dress very practically. People wear "all covering waterproofs" in Sweden, you don't get that in England."
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Look out for the next question: What's your favourite book?