Walking In My Skin

whatsapp-image-2017-02-07-at-17-49-28“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

This is just one of the many brilliant philosophies inserted by Harper Lee into her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. And even though it’s a slightly unconventional alteration of the ‘walking-in-your-shoes’-metaphor, it should be considered frequently by us, much more frequently than we probably do. What it implies, however, is even more important: All we see, all we hear, all we perceive, is filtered by our personality, and coloured by our own bias. Someone offending us with an allegedly ego-hurting statement (let’s be honest, it doesn’t really hurt anywhere else than in this inflated construct blown up around our actual self), could not have an impact without the sting added by our individual filter. It is highly likely that the very same sentence that brings us in rage would not affect any other person ever.

whatsapp-image-2017-02-07-at-17-53-54Sure, sometimes manipulative people know about the characteristics of our filter, and they abuse those by adjusting the message they want to give us. They might specifically customise the message according to our personal weaknesses. But hey, the problem is not that they know about our weaknesses, or that they are able and willing to exploit them. No – the problem is that we let them! If we re-ran any message consciously and purposely through another, neutralising filter, one that takes away all the colours our perception had added automatically, it could not do much harm, could it?

I only lately realised that very often, when someone seems to use depreciating comments towards me, the actual depreciation is formed in my own mind. If someone assigns me to a certain group of people, the evaluation about this group being “good” or “bad” actually happens through my own bias. Naturally, I don’t see it that way, as I consider myself as the most tolerant and open-minded person there is (right?), so my first thought is “Why does this person diminish me like this?”, and based on my straight-forward personality, this is then also the first response the person gets. Only in the subsequent argument it turns out that the person in no way finds this specific group any less worthy than any other group – this was exclusively made up in my head. Only in my head, based on cultural values, past experiences, family background, or whatever, this group is worth less than any other. Yes, I know, I am working on getting rid of these prejudices, believe me.

everyone-has-a-choiceSo, by being assigned to the group I feel less respected by the person who assigned me. However, in most cases, people who “do” this to us mean neither harm nor are they aware of our prejudices. Yes, actually people tend to try to avoid conflict, and had they known about our bias, they probably would have thought twice before throwing such a mind-bomb. Especially if a reaction to such a thing is remotely comparable to my reactions to being (seemingly) treated unfairly… No, probably no one in their right mind would ever do this on purpose, unless they really like doomsdays.

We cannot change people, and we cannot constantly tip-toe around their feelings and perceptions. I am not saying we should ignore other people’s perspective – but what is even more important, is to understand our own. Because that’s where it starts. How we perceive things, positive, negative, good, bad, this is all made up in our head. Even if someone means us harm and wants to desperately hurt us with a comment, it is still our own choice how to perceive it – we can even turn the meanest comment into a compliment in our head, and live on happily. How cool is that?

So next time you find something that is said inappropriate, disrespectful, diminishing – think about your own values (I swear I’ll do the same). Why does it show little respect? You don’t know anything about the values of the other person, maybe for them it means something great, and only for you it is disrespectful because you yourself are biased and prejudiced.

And as soon as you detect a detrimental filter like that, it is about time to get rid of it, don’t you think? Happy 2017!

 

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The Gloriousness of Growing Up

riesterIt is feared, awaited with horror, and anticipated with disgust about who you are going to be. We try to postpone it as much as possible, push it away from us and try to cling as hard as we can to the status quo. No one wants to be this responsible, dull, fun-less adult that cares about future savings and loyalty points in their local supermarket. But you know what? Screw all these images, forget about these cliché connotations some boring-ass TV-ads implanted in your heads – growing up is amazing!

I wanna say it again: Growing up is awesome! I don’t mean the actual entire process of growing up from being born to the very end (let’s just call that life, for simplicity reasons?), but the point where you realize you actually managed to grow up now. That turning point, that threshold between being a naïve youngster and a fully responsible adult. Because yes, there is a line, and one day we all gotta cross it, sooner or later: Just imagine yourself crossing a finishing line at a marathon, imagine that moment you reach the goal as the first, and you run through this paper band (I have never finished a marathon first, but it surely is like that?), and everyone applauds you because you made it, and you are great and the best – YOU GREW UP!

Once you start caring less, your life becomes so much more

Once you start caring less, your life becomes so much more

But how can it be amazing, you ask? Don’t we have to stop being childish, or having fun, and isn’t it a shitload of work? Hell, no! It’s not! It’s just awesome! Ok, maybe it won’t be with an audience and a finishing-line-paper-band, but this moment in which you realize that some things are just not so important, and other things are, and the most valuable character in your own personal movie is and will always be yourself, you instantly become so relaxed. Less stressed. You can trust in yourself, and nothing should be going wrong. Welcome, now you grew up.

Like, do you remember all these times when you wanted to do something, but none of your partners in crime had time to join? Or when you really wanted to go to this concert, but no one else seemed willing to pay an extraordinarily amount of money to see what you claim to be the one and only hero of music – so you ended up not going, either? Well, here’s the good news: Once you grew up, you realize you can actually do stuff on your own! By yourself! Yes, and it will still be fun – or even more so!

But it is the company that makes the event worthy, everyone knows that – right? Well, yes, but there’s also hundreds of other people who go there for the actual event and not just as company for someone who goes there for the actual event, so how about you let them be your company? Go, suck in the atmosphere, be part of a group of people you might not have known before and might not see ever again, just for that moment – because hey, that’s what life is about, anyways! Friends come and stay and then leave again, some after some months, some after years, some maybe at the end of a lifetime. They are just visitors in your life. You can value them, you can appreciate them, but your life does not depend on them.

Alone but not lonely

Alone but not lonely

If you want to go out for a fancy dinner, go out for a fancy dinner. If you want to see a movie, go to the cinema. If you like snowboarding, you can also just go by yourself and snowboard. You don’t need to start doing everything alone now (unless you really want to), but isn’t it nice to know that you actually could? Cook, eat, sports, travel – there are no limits. You will be alone, but you won’t be lonely – it can be very relaxing to spend time only with your own mind and no one else. You don’t even need to talk things out loud, and most of the time you agree with your own thoughts – how awesome is that?

Also, you become so much less stressed about finding company once you realized that you don’t necessarily need any. If you want to do something, you can still announce to your friends that you’ll be doing this, and that they are welcome to join, but now you don’t need to wait for an answer anymore. If someone wants to join, they can. But if they leave you hanging for days and rather wait for any other, maybe better opportunity to pop up, screw them – it might be too late for them then, and next time they’ll know better. Or not. Who actually cares?

Yes, caring less about unimportant stuff is probably the most awesome feature of growing up. You can stop caring about not having company for things you want to do, and you can stop caring about people who are trying to bullshit you. You simply have neither the time (another feature when growing up: being so busy with work that you automatically stop caring about unimportant things simply due to the fact that a day has no more than 24 hours) nor the insecurity left to be thinking about what people might be thinking about you.

You might stop me from using bouncy castles, but you can never take cotton candy away from me!

You might stop me from using bouncy castles, but you can never take cotton candy away from me!

So what leads to this actual crossing-the-threshold-growing-up-feeling is you being busy with work and life and responsibilities you hopefully get a decent salary for. And the side effects are you becoming independent, self-confident, and determined. I have to stress this self-confidence thing again: Being an insecure teenager/early-twenties-er/mid-twenties-er/late-twenties-er wasn’t so much fun, after all.

And the best side-effect: You end up doing mostly only things you really want to do. See, growing up is SO MUCH fun! And now I gotta go and find myself an ice cream, some cotton candy, and a Gin Tonic – just because I can. Later!

 

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The fish is rotting from the head – whom to blame for elections_gone_wrong?

So here we are, it’s Wednesday morning in Europe, and our biggest nightmares have come true. The day that will from now on be remembered as the darkest November 8 in American history since it was taken from the Natives.

This is not supposed to be yet another analysis on politics and how things could have gone wrong, no, this is just a simple reflection on life and how we as humans treat it. When Trump started getting increased media attention all over the world in the beginning of the year, people still considered it as a joke. When I talked to my friends who study politics, they just said ‘no way this person will ever make it far enough to become president – let them make fun of him’.

I never studied politics. I have a rough understanding about what is happening in U.S. politics and how their president is elected. I don’t know the motivation behind politicians’ strategies and who exactly would benefit most from having a dumb puppet in the lead, someone who is easy to steer and to manipulate. I haven’t read into conspiracy theories, and I don’t want to because most probably, there’s a bit of a truth to each of them.

But what I understand is how angry humans work. It is happening not only in the U.S., it is happening everywhere. In my country. In my country of choice. The ‘small’ man is angry, because he feels treated unfairly. And probably he’s right. We live in a dog-eat-dog society where only the strongest win, but where becoming strong depends on so many factors you cannot influence yourself that fairness is merely a theoretical concept that Disney movies like to adapt. And the worst (and most dangerous) thing is that we don’t even notice. We might be hard-working, hard-studying, thinking that we deserve this because we earned it, because we fought for it, ourselves. But think back of that one slow kid in your class in elementary school, or the other one with the 7 siblings, or the one that never seemed to understand what was going on. Other kids made fun of them because they were slow. These kids’ answer was anger. Back then, there was no need to worry about it. Kids fight. It’s normal.

And then every day, school ends, and all the kids go home, and while you get a warm lunch and are monitored to do your math homework, maybe even assisted, these kids go home and watch TV. Or worse. Their parents don’t care, or maybe they are working double shifts to afford the rent. And no one cooks for them, but maybe they find some junk food from their older brother who also shows them how to smoke a cigarette.

Life is not fair. You think a 7-year-old kid knows that when it grows up, it will earn less, have less chances because it is less educated, and understand less, if it doesn’t change something now? You were prepped to be privileged from the start, that’s why you read this article now in a language that probably isn’t your mother tongue, and because you like to reflect on things and like to understand the reasons behind occurrences.

But you are not the majority. The majority has less chances and will end up with less education. Less understanding of things. It is easy for you to make fun of angry ‘dumb’ people because you see deeper, wider; but it won’t change anything. It will only make them angrier.

Ignorance is the biggest punishment we can treat someone with, and as long as we keep on ignoring those who are less privileged than ourselves, we will pay the price in the end altogether because we share this planet. If people feel discontent but they lack the capability of understanding what let them into this situation, they develop anger and try to find someone to blame. So if a loud, raging guy (in my country, a loud, raging woman is at the top of the populist-anger-parties) comes and starts pointing fingers, of course they will love him. They will feel heard, finally, and finally someone seems to be wanting to take care of their needs. They don’t understand that what he claims does not make sense. Is not feasible. They have a problem, and he promises a solution. And that’s all that counts. And with every smartass, witty, seemingly very funny and sharp (but only to the clever people) comedian making fun of the loud hoser, his supporters feel reassured in supporting him – because it’s ‘the others’, the ones that have more money and better living conditions, the ones that look down on them, who bully their leader. And even the people that had not heard of that guy before, suddenly they will. Because by being made fun of, his media presence is just emphasized. Showing clips of his speeches that make no sense only make no sense to those who understand more. Those who understand less might have not seen the speeches up to that point – but now they do, and they like it. Maybe, if Trump had been ignored just as much as the minority elite ignores the needs of their counterparts, he wouldn’t have won today. Or maybe he would have nevertheless.

Perhaps he is just another one of the less privileged people who failed to invest in his own education. Perhaps, if he was less ‘white trash’, and a bit more literate instead, he would not create anger and hate, point fingers and blame innocents, grope women and talk non-sense the entire day. But we will never know what is going on in his head (after all, this could just be a strategy). Yet there is one thing we know for sure: as long as we behave like a two(or more)-class-system that feeds a small group at the top and kicks down to the mass at the bottom, we will have to lie in the bed we made ourselves. The fish is rotting from the head.

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The merits of being a volunteer

help-1265227_1280Working as a volunteer can be so rewarding. Well, it should be! After all, being altruistic just means that instead of getting monetary compensation, you get the great warm feeling of being a truly good human being. You are indeed someone caring for others. You think about more than just your own selfish butt and how to keep it warm.

Yes, latest since the episode in Friends where Phoebe tries to do a good deed without getting anything in return, not even a good feeling about herself (and repeatedly fails), we should know that there is no such thing as altruism. At least not in its original definition. But maybe it doesn’t matter. As long as there are drivers that motivate us to care beyond the end of our nose, we don’t necessarily need to question or define them – let’s just gratefully accept this fact and keep on doing good things now and then.

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Volunteering – when not doing anything and feeling good about it is an actual option

Still, people work in voluntary organizations for lots of different reasons. Some want to learn new skills. Some want to feel good about themselves. Some want the benefits that come with it (usually free food, at times kinkier than that). And some just enjoy the company. As diverse as these motivations are the skills attached: If you hire people for a team in a job, you usually get to choose the ones with a certain educational background that you need. If you ‘hire’ volunteers (and you’re just an ordinary student organization with too much work), you got to accept what comes your way. Manpower is manpower (or womanpower), and you usually can’t afford to question their motives or expertise. Usually this does not matter much – the skills required for the tasks are typically so generic that it really doesn’t take a genius to execute them. What matters, though, is the intrinsic motivation. Everyone has a different level of that by nature, and the hiring-and-firing process of the free market regulates it to a smoother average.

paper-523232_1920But what to do when you cannot fire people? What if they take on tasks and never do them? Or it takes them ages to execute them, but whenever you want to reassign someone, they assure you they are ‘on it’? What if they seem to hang out in the organization and benefit from all the plus sides, but when it comes to actual work they are usually busy? And then not to mention personalities. Another annoying factor most humans bring with them, and different personalities subsequently imply different perceptions and views on things. Sarcasm aside, when you spend more time on discussing how to do things, how to interact, how to communicate, and how people feel while doing all this than actually just doing things, you know you are truly part of a voluntary organization. A real one – not this pseudo-voluntary stuff that for-profit companies have made up in order to exploit labor for free by promising young naïve people experience and a great after-life: in those shady agreements the companies actually still sustain the power over the employee, ehm, sorry – volunteer. They can actually fire them when they are not doing their job. And someone who takes on an unpaid job in the first place probably doesn’t wanna lose it again for not being available during a Saturday night.

buddha-452028_1920No, you’re part of a real voluntary organization, when you are grateful for everyone’s opinion. And personality. And the fact that they don’t do anything for 6 months, but then once they carried the water canister into the kitchen, and thus they are a truly valuable part of the organization, irreplaceable almost. And that’s when you know you finally got the biggest reward from being part of this: you grew. The skills you aim to learn in a voluntary organization are patience, selflessness, and generosity. Patience as in acknowledging all sorts of different people, their different perceptions of work, and their own definition of completing a task. Selflessness, like actually completing the task for them secretly in the background, but not telling anyone and letting them have all the credit. And generosity, finally, when you realize there’s nothing more to learn and you give the floor to the newbies in order to make all the same mistakes again that have been made and fixed a million times before – that’s when you know you gained all you possibly could from working in a voluntary organization, and you can finally put this on your CV and move on.

The true value of a voluntary organization is not the warm feeling of being a decent human being. The true value for any volunteer is to grow as a person. The (student) organization as such is a training base, an unfinished project with reoccurring problems, the same ones every year actually, and besides all knowledge transfer, all wisdom recording-and-passing-on, and all efforts of older members, the same mistakes are being made when encountering the same problems. You learn teamwork, patience (yes, for real!), and how to improvise. And once you find yourself solving the same problems half asleep and under the influence, but still better than the newbies, you know it is finally time to move on. Let some other people grow on it lastly.

 

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If you wanna play games, play Pokémon GO and f**k off

DSCF5773I said something very stupid the other day. Yes, as odd as it may sound, this does happen sometimes. I claimed I want to be ‘seen as a person’ even by ‘random sex partners’. It was a hypothetical discussion, so no need to start a scandal or speculations now, but my conversation partner had a very clever answer: “So what else would one be, if not a person?”, he said.

Despite the fact that he most probably used this argument in consideration of his own future advantages, he is absolutely right. What makes us a person? What makes us worthy of something – what makes us special? Day in, day out we can find evidence everywhere that allegedly it must be our environment and people we encounter. Bluntly speaking, this is mere bullshit. How sad would it be if our state of mind, our condition of being, our existence depended on the confirmation of random other people! If you wanna be special, be special! If you wanna be worthy of something, be worthy of it! This does not necessarily imply that you actually receive whatever you see yourself worthy of, but if it is not you as the least one to confirm you actually are, then who is?

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Timing is of the essence when playing by the rules…

Too abstract? Let’s throw in another example. I had a heated argument with a friend about whether or not it is necessary to follow certain rules when dating. You know, like all this shit from the Hollywood movies, ‘don’t sleep with him before the 5th date or he will not consider you as girlfriend material’, and so on. Stuff that already led to heated discussions during the 90s in our all-time favourite series Sex and the City. While Charlotte is of the opinion that of course you need to make yourself a rare and not-that-easy prey, Samantha counters that at least you have had a good time, will he decide against you, and that the fact of whether or not to wait a certain amount of dates before getting it on does not really play a role. I have to say, I support Samantha’s view here full-heartedly, and I add the question of why is this such an externally-controlled game, anyways? What if you (feel free to swap pronouns according to your gender and/or sexual preferences) actually decide against him? And what happened to the good old rule of test-driving a car before buying it?

This friend had a nice story as an example to back up his argument. Another friend of his met ‘the girl of his dreams’ in a bar (yes, this guy apparently feels certain to conclude that in a slightly intoxicated state of mind and after a maximum of a couple of hours of talk), and then he asked her to come home with him, and when she did, he was very disappointed and decided she cannot be the girl of his dreams any longer. Now you probably see why my friend (not the guy from the story, I don’t know him), after telling me this story, fully convinced it is a reasonable one, lost a couple of points in the smartness-league here. If you’re more on his side, however, and it is not so obvious for you, let’s break it down to the odd facts:

  • Why would this guy even ask the girl to come home with him if he doesn’t want her to?
  • Why does the guy need a girl to say ‘no’ to him in order to feel special and appreciated?
  • Why does it not occur to him that he might have lost his privilege of being special and appreciated in her eyes after popping such a question on the first night, if this is the game he thinks he’s in?
  • Why is his interest in her solely based on her willingness to sleep with him at a pre-selected point in time, instead of her as a person?
  • Why is it valued by him as something positive if the girl refuses to get naked with him (maybe she just finds him really repelling)?
  • And last but not least: Why on earth can this grown-up guy not scratch the leftovers of his balls together and tell the girl that he would like to take her home, but he kinda likes her and wants to get to know her first, and how about meeting for a coffee and sober at a later point instead?

Aside from all this, I just as much and fully support two people that like each other going home with each other the moment they meet, and liking each other a bit more. If they are both up for it, why not? Where do all these stupid rules come from? Who says we need to play by them? Hell, how do people playing by the rules even know whether or not the other person even likes them or is just really good at playing a game by the rules? There should only be two rules: Do what you want because you want it (and not because you wanna trigger a reaction from someone else – the same goes for abstaining from doing something), and try to be honest to not hurt anyone. That’s it. Pretty easy. And pretty fun, too! Whole new levels of life experience open up to you once you throw insecurities, second thoughts, biases and questionable standards over board and live your life as it happens!

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How about leaving the judgment for more fun games?

There is never a guarantee that someone finds you special and wants to be with you. People can find you interesting right away, or after they get to know you better, but in the end it is them deciding whether or not they want to do that. And if all they find interesting about you is the fact that they cannot have you, it’s probably not about you, anyway. But you know what? That’s their loss. That doesn’t make you a less interesting or a less special person. Do you even want to be with someone who just fell for you because you were so unavailable? I rather team up with someone who consciously decided it’s worth getting to know me, than because I forced him to spend time with me over a three-week period. There we go, found another filter here! Besides, who wants to be with a person who judges (and evaluates!) people by the amount of time they wait to sleep with someone? That doesn’t seem like a too attractive characteristic, either.

After all, the easiest approach is probably to acknowledge that you cannot steer other people’s minds. Besides, manipulating people rarely results in something positive. And most of the time they themselves don’t even know what they want, so you shouldn’t even try to control that (and life becomes so much more relaxing once you accept this fact). Meeting someone you can stand longer than a month is tricky, requires the right timing, willingness for commitment (on both sides), attraction, and a bit of luck. The odds that you chased away the one and only (there are, by the way, approximately 8 ‘right ones’ for you per city, depending on the number of inhabitants) by not sleeping with them at the right point in time are very, very low.

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What we all can learn from 20+-year-old guys on tinder

ID-100327154Contrary to common assumptions I am not very self-confident. And I know lots of people who are not, either. I think that’s one of your biggest obstacles in life – to overcome your self-doubts and just be relaxed and happy. Once you’ve reached that state of mind, everything else will follow. And if it doesn’t, well, at least you couldn’t care less.

A friend of mine claims that low self-confidence stems from a too huge ego. Though contradictory at first sight, it actually does make sense: If your ego weren’t so huge, and your actual self did not constantly feel the need to try to catch up with that huge ego, there wouldn’t be any problem. You got two ways to solve that now: You either find yourself extremely awesome, just like that ego of yours does, and consequently repel people for being cocky and arrogant while being in constant danger to actually wake up from that dream-world, or you simply stop taking yourself so damn serious.

Make an advocated guess: I recommend the second option. I am continuously working on it, and even though it’s still a long way to go, I can already praise the effects. And since I am an active tinderer, observing more and more social peculiarities happening on this infamous app, I even came up with a theory: We should all be more like 22-year-old guys (who are on tinder)*. Now I’m not saying that all 20+-year-old guys on tinder ID-10030407don’t take themselves too serious – there are certainly lots among them who are extremely cocky – but in a general sense, they seem to not have any self-confidence problems. And the outcome is what counts most!

You cannot blame me for not having done my research properly. I even used my male friend’s tinder-account and talked to girls. So, I’ve seen both sides, and I’ve had several epiphanies. One: Girls* tend to ‘suck up’. They are focusing so much on being liked by the guy that they seem to lose themselves completely in the process. The oddest thing about that is that they might not even be interested in the guy. It’s a matter of principle. This is not news, and I had to observe it on myself several times throughout my (by now rather long) dating-career, but I hope it’s getting less. And I think keeping 20+-year-old-guys-on-tinder-behavior in mind can only help. Fact is, the meaner you are to girls on the chat, the more they suck up to you. If this sounds familiar to you now: yes, sorry, that was me writing in my friend’s name. But you liked it, didn’t you?

Two: Girls* are way too easy to impress. If a guy makes a compliment, girls* tend to feel obliged to be flattered. I mean, why? Do we really need the external approval of someone we haven’t even met? What does he know? If we look good on that one picture we put there, we certainly already know that – that’s why we put it there. Don’t feel flattered. Tell him to come up with something more original than that, because clearly, it’s not very clever. If the guy doesn’t make any compliments, however, girls* start to advertise themselves and brag about their skills and beauty in an utmost pathetic way. I have never had a guy doing that, at least not seriously. As a matter of fact, one told me how he stopped going to the gym and lost all his muscles in the past 2 years, and became all chubby from the vast amounts of alcohol he consumes now. Would you dare doing that if you need to catch up with your huge ego? There you go.

ID-100269031Three: Girls* don’t really know what they want. They claim they just wanna have fun, but it would also be nice to find someone to talk to, and yes, could he please be exclusive? But nothing complicated! Those young guys* instead, they know why they are there, and there’s nothing that can change their mind. They have decided to be single for at least the next three years, and they won’t let anything come between them and their decision. How much easier is life when you have a clear vision! What, you really don’t want anything serious? Great! Then you can just be yourself and nothing else; be nasty, be funny, do and say whatever comes to your mind, ‘cause you have the biggest gift there is: nothing to lose.

Four: Girls* think they are a princess. For guys*, it either seems self-evident that they are amazing (and thus there’s no need to stress it), or they simply don’t care. In fact, who told you you are special? Your parents? Ever thought of the fact that they had to? Now here’s the deal: If everyone was special, no one would be. The likelihood of you being special is very low, given the amount of other people out there. Pictures girls* tend to put on tinder reflect their need for confirmation of especialness – while guys* show their hobbies and themselves in action (or a fish they caught, but more to that later), girls have a reeeeaaally big close-up of their face, and then another one, with reeeeaaaally big Sailor-Moon-eyes, and then a third one, from a different angle.

ID-100179956 (1)Admittedly, I don’t really know the insides of those 20+-year-old-guys-on-tinder’s minds. All I can do is observe the outcome and interpret. And what they all seem to have in common is that they are true to themselves, and also relatively honest to others. Further, they expect – nothing. If you expect nothing, and you have nothing to lose, you probably live the happiest life there is. Now go and tell that to your ego. Because that one still thinks you deserve some fairy-tale marriage and a prince on a white horse because you are such a pretty special little princess**.

*These are all generalizations based on the sample I observed. There are probably exceptions (to prove my rule, of course), no doubt.
**This goes out to both genders, not only girls, just to be clear. You can be an insecure little crybaby regardless of the gender (and sexual orientation).
Image courtesy of iosphere, Idea go, Master isolated images and AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Hairsplitting

ID-100285872After recent observations in my new temporary, very equated and feminist home Sweden, I could not help but start (and never stop) detailed discussions about a widely avoided and yet very popular topic: hair. I reckon no other topic is so controversial: well-presented and omnipresent throughout media and society, but yet so frowned upon when broken down to its hairy components.

Consider this: As long as hair is growing on the top of our heads, it’s all pretty much ok to discuss it freely ad nauseam. About a gazillion different hair products are out there, waiting to be purchased, whole businesses and lifestyles revolve around these peculiar dead, emotionless cells emerging through our skulls. Yet, be aware! The more south we follow the growth of the fur covering 99% of our bodies, the more censored the topic becomes*. Take the beard, for instance: For a very long time, faces have been beardless and smooth, ever since the good old 80s passed with their seriously questionable moustache-fashion-trends. Apart from Movember, facial hair has not really been in style since then. Full-grown beards, moustaches or even goatbeards were recognizable accessories acting as warning signs to stay away from the bearer.ID-100318414

Until recently. Nowadays, a thing formerly known as pedophile beards is proudly worn by hipsters, and made socially acceptable again. And, I have to admit, this is also probably one of the best examples for how society and habits shape our perception: While in the beginning, I understandably still found those hairy mats in guys’ faces as icky as ever, by now my attitude has changed to secret admiration (which sometimes goes as far as me wanting to grow such a beard myself).

Why I found them icky, you ask? Well, my hygiene-driven assumption that they smell like everything that has been eaten throughout the whole day, and probably capture also physical evidence of this, cannot be reversed just by making a trend out of it. Yet, by constant exposure to these face-mats, my mind began to change. Slowly, but steadily, up to the point that I caught myself regarding those unhygienic bacteria-ships (fun facts: beards contain on average approximately the bacteria of a public toilet seat) as sexy. I find myself checking out hipster-guys with hipster-beards as if they were my only and last chance for procreation.

So, if it is a matter of habit what we find attractive or even acceptable, can this perhaps be expanded to other body parts? I do agree that the never ending chest-hair-debate will probably remain a matter of preferences – which is good, it decreases my competition! –, but let’s take armpits, for instance. Since ages, it is taught to us that ladies should keep their armpits hairless. Is this just a matter of habit, too? Could it be considered completely normal if everyone was always running around with hairy, sweaty armpits? Here in Sweden, this seems to be the next arising trend – and as I strongly believe also the hipster-beard stems from here, it probably is just a matter of time until the armpit hair grows on surrounding countries. But why? And: Do I need to find that great? Is it a feminist thing to not shave your armpits? Can I be a feminist and rather support hairless armpits no matter the gender, instead of “hair for everyone”?

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Also head-hair gets an icky touch, once detached from your skull

Let’s face it: Hair that is not attached to your body is kind of icky. That applies for head-hair as well as any other kind of hair lying around, plugging the drain, or suddenly sticking to your fingers when washing the dishes… maybe this is due to the fact that once detached, it is hard to figure out the previous owner of it. And then it becomes quite strange – touching the dead cells of someone else… I know, right? So the less hair you allow growing on your body, the less likely it will end up in someone’s soup, sink, or on a public toilet seat. That’s probably the main reason why I personally prefer less hairy people (well, except for the chest hair, but I think that is old news).

There remains one secret, still, though: The leg hair. Not only are women supposed to keep their armpits smooth and tidy, also their legs should always be prepared to participate in a competition that requires maximum aero-dynamics. Still it is not clear, however, if the legs are supposed to be hair-free up to the knee, or entirely – this has unfortunately not been communicated well enough yet.

I am excitedly awaiting the developing trend concerning the legs. The day we find hairy women-legs just as desirable as pubic-hair-like facial decoration. And, after all, at least there won’t be any food left-overs wrapped around our legs!

* before our dedicated hobby-scientists start complaining to me again through various different channels (ain’t got no time for that, eh!), let me clarify: Yes, I know there’s major differences between head-hair, secondary-sexual-characteristical hair, and the overall cover of vellus hair. However, for the sake of this blog post’s comedic effect, I decided to just not care so much about distinctions. And because sometimes, I can’t be bothered.

 

 

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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