Thursday, February 9, 2012

Social Experiment

My last post was about my ideas regarding make-up and normal fashion and whatnot. I got to thinking, "what would life be like if I DID dress like a 'normal' person and wear make up and everything?" so i decided to conduct a series of experiments, the first of which i carried out today.
     Tonight, I had class from 4-7. So I had plenty of time to "get ready" (i'm actually not sure what the current terminology for this is...) So i put on a simple black dress, black flats (didn't want to bother with heels; i'm not that dedicated.) put on eyeliner, and, ::shudders:: lipstick. I did nothing different with my hair, as usual, like i said, not that dedicated. I wanted to know if I would receive the same amount of attention, or more, or less, if i dressed like most normal girl university students. Usually, I wear simple clothes, i.e. power rangers t-shirts, pullover hoodies, mexican ponchos, sweater boots, and other apparently socially odd things. Not to mention i usually have large headphones on, which is also apparently odd for a 5'2 white girl to wear.
Now i actually get a fair amount of attention dressed like i normally am (albeit unwanted attention); people talk to me (albeit weird people, usually) and occasionally i get hit on (albeit awkwardly). So people aren't deterred by my deviation from current fashion trends and make up wearing. Some people even seem more drawn to me because I'm "different".
     So the main idea of this experiment was to gauge how people would react to a "normalized" Kris Thompson. So i put on normal clothes, and normal make-up, and went to class.
     Most people were actually friendlier, in general, smiling at me, saying "hello", and the like. Mind you, RANDOM people, not people i know. Not even people in my class. People held doors open for me, and actually let me onto the elevator (which was nice, because that elevator takes a long time to get anywhere, and if you have to wait for the next one to arrive, it takes a while.) Usually people just sort of let doors close on my face, and make me wait for the next lift. Apparently, if you look normal, you have better luck getting places at a normal pace. And you also won't get slammed in the face by a closing door if you don't happen to be paying good attention. Finally arrived to class (a bit of a trek, parking at school's a monstrosity) and walked through the door. Suddenly, the room seemed to snap to attention and looked at me like i had just been beamed down from Mars. I got over the shock of being noticed and took my seat. There's a guy in my class (well, there are several, which is not the normal for my line of study) and apparently he's considered to be "the hottest guy in class" by all the girls (and a few guys). All the girls practically throw themselves at him, almost fighting to sit next to him. I don't see the big deal over him, he's nothing special by my standards; i sit on the opposite side of the room with the other more apathetic students. The popular guy has never before spoken to me (a fact with which i'm more than okay), but he stares at me the entire time throughout class (a fact which i less than appreciate.) Ever since first day of class, he sits sideways and stares at me the whole time for the duration of the class and 15minute break. Mind you, this is what happens when I'm dressed as my regular self. Today, dressed as a normal person, he approached me during break. Now, this is what i was wondering about. WOULD PEOPLE IN CLASS VIEW ME DIFFERENTLY (metaphorically, obviously) AND THEN ACT ON THAT? the answer was undeniably YES. He came up to me, and said "Wow! are you going somewhere?" (presumably thinking i was dressed differently because I was going to an event) to which I replied "no". He then said, and I kid you not, "Well, would you LIKE to be going somewhere?" with his popular-guy cocky-grin. I replied "No thanks, I'm cool." Apparently that's a socially unacceptable response to that question, because the look of disbelief on his face was almost comical. After he recovered from this apparently stunning response, he regained composure and said "Oh, okay. Maybe next time. Well, you look really nice." and smiled again and returned to his chair. The girl next to me also seemed to think it was a socially unacceptable response, and gave me a look of disapproval, as if my turning him down was an act akin to Judas's betrayal of Jesus. I simply smiled at her and returned to reading whatever i was reading at the time. As if that incident weren't enough proof that things really ARE different when you dress like a normal person, the professor actually took notice of me (a terrifying thing, really, as this professor is prone to cussing out students). He looked me over and proceeded to pay me the most epic compliment I have ever received: "You look like a badass Audrey Hepburn." I simply said "thank you..." and tried to smile (i was scared out of my wits at his acknowledgement of my existence). He then returned to texting, and I did the same.
     Don't get me wrong, I'm no narcissist (if you know me in real life you probably already know that.) I'm perfectly happy to just go through life (and especially school) completely unnoticed. And I'm definitely no fan of vanity or conceit. I conducted this experiment of sorts out of pure curiosity, to see if people really do treat better-dressed people with more respect and kindness. The results of this experiment? I get attentions either way, it's just sort of a different kind. When I'm dressed like my regular self, people talk to me and notice my personality, and genuinely seem to want to get to know me. Also when I'm dressed like my regular self, i end up waiting for a lot of elevators (people are jerks) and getting doors slammed in my face. When I dressed "up to par" with the norms of what girls my age wear, I got more respect, but also ended up encountering people that were only interested in my appearance. So, in conclusion, I'd much prefer to wear headphones and a power ranger shirt and get the door slammed in my face than a dress and makeup and get hit on by shallow people that think the world is owed to them on a silver platter.


  1. Don't you find it at all unfair that you approached the situation with your mind made up already? You were clearly biased towards an expectation and reacted accordingly when you got what you wanted, or maybe only noticed the way people looked at you because you were for once sensitive to their reactions.

    I think it's particularly unfair that you're writing people off based on the way they treated you. Why is it that those who were nice to you are the ones that you're regarding as shallow? You're typecasting these people in the same way that you obviously suspect they profile you. The man who asked you out on a date was clearly just trying to tell you that you looked nice, that he was attracted to you, and that he'd like to spend some time getting to know you, and you (from what I gathered from this post) were a bit rude to him. Have you ever spoken to him before? Do you know him well? Is it truly fair to say that he's one of those "shallow people that think the world is owed to them on a silver platter" without actually making an attempt to see what he's really like? I think you got the evil eye from the girl sitting next to you because, as you suspected, what you said was socially unacceptable. It was, as I said, a bit rude. The "I'm better than that" attitude you wrote this post with (and I assume responded to his advances with) will have accomplished nothing more than hurting the feelings of someone that might not have deserved it. Not every man out there is just trying to hook up and get some sex out of a first date. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that those people are in the extreme minority (as opposed to what television would lead one to believe).

    I hate to say it, but I think you're guilty of the very things that you accused other people of. You write people off without giving them a chance to show you that maybe, just maybe, they held that door open for you because they were a genuinely nice person; or maybe they noticed you today because of the effort that you made to BE noticed, and not because of some perverted desire to please the pretty girl. Most of all, I think that you are far quicker to judge these 'normal' people based on their appearances than they are to judge you. Your assumptions are all based on the exterior. You conclude that what you see from afar, from your limited and uninformed perspective, can be extrapolated to make conclusions about the nature of these people. The mere fact that you've decided to disregard their uniqueness and individuality and just group them all together, especially with such negative connotations, is testimony to this.

    It's easy to be a cynic. Try giving someone the benefit of the doubt for once, and you might be surprised to find that beyond the elitist lenses that color your world so negatively, the 'normal' people you seem to dislike so much are actually much more genuine and good intentioned than you'd like to concede.

    1. geez louise! you take everything so seriously haha. It's called the Scientific Method. You form a hypothesis, then test it to see results. I merely formed a hypothesis, then set about conducting this experiment (and that's what it was, a simple experiment, nothing so sinister as you make it to be haha) to see the results. I didn't "want" anything out of this, at least nothing more than to see what would happen. Again, key word "experiment".

    2. Perhaps I was a bit unclear in my portrayal of people. The guy that asked me out is a womanizing, arrogant, stuck-up pretentious idiot. I go to class with him, you don't. I see him during and after class, hear his discussions with classmates and the professor. Trust me, this guy is garbage. Is every attractive guy garbage? No, of course not. However, this guy IS, and he was clearly not used to being told "no thank you". I was polite about it, I just denied him, which was the apparently wrong thing to do. Would you rather I be one of those people that goes out with anyone that asks me to, regardless of my feelings toward them? We've both seen where that ends up. Nowhere good. So I was honest, which, my point here was to say, is apparently socially unacceptable. Think of it as satirical, not cynical. (I realize the two are closely tied at times, but this post was written out of mostly humourous intentions.) What I said to him was not, by my standards, wrong. I simply said I didn't want to go out with him. I by no means told him to f*** off or any such rude type of thing. The girl next to me was more just shocked that i turned down the popular guy that everyone is in love with. It wasn't because I was "rude", as you seem to think. I think it's one of those times where you "had to be there" type of things. My tone of voice was sincere and polite, not haughty or condescending at all. "I'm better than that attitude"? really? Because i think so highly of myself to have such feelings. C'mon. You know me. Or at least, DID know me. I don't think I'm better than anyone else. No better, no worse. Did I assume that guy was wanting nothing more than sex? Not at all. Although the guy's a complete rake, for all I know he could have wanted to go out and discuss "Don Juan". I'm well aware that guys are not mindless sex-hounds that only seek to use women. And I quite agree; those types are definitely the minority.

    3. I haven't accused anyone of anything, or at least didn't intend to sound accusatory. I don't "write people off", I'm simply honest now about who i want to go out with or don't. Call it selfish, but I'd rather be honest and hurt the guy (although i try to be nice about it) up front rather than go on a date, waste the guy's money (assuming he pays) and THEN tell him I don't want to go out with him anymore. I dunno, that's just me. Yes, because anyone holding a door open for you while simultaneously giving you the up-down with absolutely no discretion means they're probably a very nice person. I don't assume anything other than if you dress extravagantly, people notice you and hold the door for you. If you dress like a wallflower, you can be invisible at times and get the door slammed in your face because they don't want to take the time to check out your ass. Are there kind people out there that hold open the door for anyone? Of course, obviously. Blanket statements are just that: blanket statements. You can't judge everyone based on one person. No, I conclude from how people treat me and talk to me, and act, and treat our other classmates, the nature of these people. It's a bit broad of you to say what I do and don't assume. I haven't disregarded uniqueness or individuality; there are just certain unsavory people (unsavory is deemed by their actions and words, not appearance, mind you) that I'd prefer not to hang out with. Most the people I hang out with are VERY unique, different, and, daresay, weird. And I love them for it. You think I want some sort of cookie-cutter world where everyone holds doors open and treats me like a princess? No, that would be dull. (and you of all people should know how I don't like chivalry haha). The people I interacted with just happened to be people with blatantly negative attributes. I don't hate the world, I don't think everyone's out to get me or a pervert. This was just an experiment to see and demonstrate how people act differently towards a girl that dresses nicer vs more casual.

    4. I do give people the benefit of the doubt, until they prove themselves to be arrogant jerks or blatant perverts. Elitist lenses? Really? I'm disappointed that you would think that of me. I don't dislike "normal" people, either. Speak only of what you know and understand. Until you've been around the people in my classes and departments, it's not fair for you to assume that I'm being too harsh on anyone. It goes both ways.

      Thank you for your response and critique, I enjoy feedback, even if you were a bit "harsh" haha. I respect your opinion, and I'm sorry if what I originally wrote offended you or led you to believe that I'm some sort of "elitist" that thinks everyone is below me.

    5. Again, I'm sorry I came across so... angry. I'm not. Poor choice of words on my behalf. The elitist remark in particular didn't come across as I'd intended when I'd written it, and I realized that mistake when I re-read my response. Understand that the reason I replied at all is because I respect you as an intellectual and someone that can put up an argument and appreciate one too.

      As I said, I do stand by what I said (well... most of it). I read this essay when I saw it in my news feed, and subsequently gave a shot to the one that preceded it out of curiosity. I couldn't help but feel like there was a strong current of dislike and prejudice towards people who fall into the range that is conventionally regarded as the norm. Specifically, people who wear makeup or spend a little extra time in front of a mirror to look good. The reason this is considered to be normal is because, by general convention, there are no moral or ethical objections to these things or social faux pas committed. There is nothing wrong with wearing makeup. It's just the portrayal of an image, in the same way that your wearing jeans and a power rangers t-shirt is just the way you choose to portray yourself. The only difference between the two is in material.

      Particularly, I dislike "no offense, but...." or "nothing against other people, but...." statements and similar ones because a) they don't absolve the speaker of the burden of insulting someone no matter how much they'd like to think it does, and b) it's impossible to apply values to only yourself, as you formed these values through the observation of other people and your opinions were made accordingly. Make-up makes you feel shallow and fake because you think that people who wear make-up are shallow and fake. If you're familiar at all with symbolic logic, it's best expressed as A<=>B ("if and only if A is true, then B is true"). If and only if you think make-up makes people shallow and fake (A), then you will feel shallow and fake wearing it (B). This statement can only be universally true or false (T<=>T or F<=>F). If A is false, B cannot be true. Likewise, if B is false then A cannot be true. You wouldn't love to wear make-up if you thought it had negative connotations to it, and you wouldn't feel fake or shallow wearing make-up if you thought that there was nothing at all wrong with the act.

      As well, I still think that the notice you took of people's reactions to you was nothing more than a self fulfilling prophecy. As you said yourself, you generally do your best NOT to be noticed NOT to garner attention. I think that part of this is due to a tendency to be inattentive oneself in order to avoid eye contact and recognition. It's just something people do when they want to scrape by on the sidelines. I think that your attempt to be noticed made you notice more than you usually do, and might have skewed your assumptions. Like I said, it's a self fulfilling prophecy. If you want to do this little experiment right, you have to be able to observe objectively, and that simply can't be done when you're the test subject.

      In defense of some of the other points I brought up, I do only have the two blog posts you put up to judge off of. I am willing, though, to admit that I did exactly what I accused you of: drawing conclusions from a limited perspective and with limited information. So... I'm sorry. Genuinely.

    6. I'm sorry you feel that I'm prejudiced against anyone, I honestly try to view and treat everyone equally. I don't hate people that wear make-up, my mom wears make-up for goodness sakes. my best friends wear make up. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH MAKE UP OR NICE CLOTHES. As i said, i don't like it for ME, but i don't care if other people like it for THEM. And that's the truth. I'm apathetic to what other people wear and do for themselves. Yes yes, I, too, took logic and critical thinking, so don't think all that formulaic talk confuses or impresses me :) And, I even explicitly said that I don't think there's anything wrong with wearing makeup. And that's the truth! it makes ME feel shallow and fake. But I can def appreciate anyone that wears makeup and makes it look good! You're putting words and thoughts into my mouth and mind. You're entitled to your opinion, as am I. You're taking this way too seriously, honestly. Lighten up :)

    7. Fair enough lol. I'm just in the mood for a good debate.

  2. In hindsight, my choice of words come across as a little abrasive. Sorry about that. I stand by what I said though.

  3. sorry for the multiple replies, it made me cut everything down to fit haha