Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Image

Image is important.  In fact the image that you portray directly impacts the outcome of your circumstances.  Better looking people get higher salaries and more breaks, for example.  There is a reason politicians are clean shaven and wear a suit.  Your image is used by others to make a snap judgement about you, whether you like it or not.  First impressions are lasting impressions and they are made within a matter of seconds. 

While everybody has an image, and some consciously maintain it, few inspect where their image comes from.  The image we portray is often automatic, but for this reason it is even more important to understand its origin. 

Our personal images that we portray come from emotional ties to our experiences.  When we see somebody portraying an image that we identify with, we adopt that image, or at least parts of it.  The business person wears a suit, the construction worker wears dirty jeans, and the moms drive minivans and wear mom jeans.  We take on the image we identify with, not because there is something inherent in being a mom that requires you wear mom jeans, or that businessmen can't conduct their business in a t-shirt, but because as individuals we strive to emulate that which identify with and that which we desire.  Our images then begin to shape our identities.  It is "monkey see, monkey do" on a grand scale.  Even those who feel they are fashionable, unique, and creative in their image are striving to attain an idealized version of what they want to be.  Our image does not come from within, but from what we are conditioned to believe is an appropriate image for what we want to be.

Why is it that we choose to let our image shape our identity, when we could be choosing to have our identity define our image?  Why do we not create from the inside our identities first, and then work on the image we want to portray rather than the image we think we should portray?  This requires shaping your identity outside of business suits and mom jeans, and outside of material things for that matter.  Its all a costume anyway, why not make it yours?

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