Ali has a sister and is a girly girl. She takes care with her appearance, goes to the hairdresser (without extreme resistance - I would rather go to the dentist), wears make up, knows what clothes suit her, dazzles at parties and is loved by everyone for her warm, witty company. She notices what you are wearing, if you look tired, if you have lost weight, your shoes, your hair cut, your appearance. She doesn't do this in a critical way. She just notices. She is what I now call a physiological person.
I rarely notice much about physical appearance unless it so obvious - loss of a couple of stone (but rarely when people have put on weight - my age group tend to look much better with a few extra pounds!), a radical hair cut from waist length hair to a crop, that sort of thing. I rarely notice what someone is wearing - I would be hopeless having to give a description to the police if someone (God forbid) went missing - and generally can tell much more about someone's wellbeing by the look in their eyes and their general body language/posture and the tone of the voice. A sort of psychological/aural person.
So why am I pondering this question? The Fairy Blogmother's latest blog has bought home a couple of things to me. Firstly, that subconsciously, I may have a hang up about the amount of food I eat in front of other people because I worry that they will think I am greedy - natch. Time to let that one go. Secondly, I am still learning stuff about myself as I near 50 that surprises me. Thirdly, that perhaps I should make a greater effort to notice what people are looking like physiologically because people like compliments about physical appearance and it appears to soothe them (I HATE it when anyone says anything, however nice, about what I look like!). Fourthly, I need to make a greater effort with my girls about their physical stuff and my physical stuff. (Note to self, going to the supermarket in shirt with holes in it, trackie bums and crocs is NOT acceptable)
I have never been a great make-up wearer. I did go through a phase at 16 (which my mother has never let me forget and scarred me for life) and haven't really bothered since. I have just ignored (not purposefully, more in a total disinterest so it doesn't penetrate the brain) my children's attempts to get me to "tidy myself up" a bit. I did buy some Touche Eclat foundation last week. It was expensive and comes in a pretty bottle and I intend to keep it for "best". This has two outcomes. It will get used about 3 times a year and go off, long before the bottle is finished or the girls will borrow it and I will go into meltdown in 3 years time because there is none left. I also bought a foundation brush. Partly to keep G happy and make her think that, this time, I really was going to start taking care of the way I look but, more importantly, make-up really irritates my skin. Ergo, if I want to go out looking my "best", my face would look great and my hands like bananas, somewhat spoiling the effect.
So back to Ali. Why do I owe her this debt of gratitude? I think she understands that, however hard I try, I am much more interested in working out what makes a person tick by talking to them and observing their reactions and physical cues, than in what they are wearing and where they got their highlights done. So she gently gives me social cues that I would otherwise miss
"Doesn't T's haircut really suit her, Charl?" "You look so brown. Have you been on holiday?" etc
This means I don't scare people by launching straight into talking about brains or genetics or what they think of the crisis in the NHS. I am reminded to ease into a gentler conversation about the weather, or holidays or children. Perhaps I am autistic (although I score around 10 on the ASD test) or perhaps I have visualisation problems.
Whatever it is, I have decided to not go anywhere social without Ali arc welded to my side.
Unless, it is an eating disorder get together because FEAST parents tend to do physiological as well as psychological.