My initial reaction, when trying to understand how a few of you could be so vehemently upset by my writing that how we present ourselves to the world and our families is important, was: Let’s agree to disagree. But after ruminating for a couple of days, I decided to dive back in. I truly want to understand.
First let me try to clarify what I was saying, or hoping I was saying, in my previous post.
I’ll turn to that favorite journalistic technique, bullet points:
- Style and substance, not — no never — style versus substance.
- Let’s agree that substance trumps style, but add style to the equation and perhaps we can agree that that oh-so-simple addition does give us an edge. (Are you thinking: “Maybe initially?” OK, I accept your argument, but still. . . Why not make all the details work in our favor?)
- Personal style — however one defines it — sends out one’s first message. We are attracted to a person — or not.
- This is not an anti woman conversation. I just happen to write primarily about women and therefore didn’t mention men, but dressing nicely is an equal opportunity decision.
- It is not I who says first impressions are made in seven seconds by observation and not interaction. Psychologists have studied the phenomenon.
- Those very same experts report that it can be difficult for us to reevaluate first impressions.
- Those quick impressions also apply to places and things. What about a disappointing hotel room on vacation when we were expecting something entirely different? What about an overgrown neglected garden? (Examples abound.)
- The slightest effort confounds the “no time” to look presentable argument.
- With a bit of organization, looking pulled together and polished become a habit.
- Wherewithal is another false argument.
I am disappointed that I am perceived by some of you as superficial. I was hoping that while being a lifestyle blogger, I share interesting cultural discoveries and observations with you — think napkins and knives for example. . .
My fault I’m sure. I always think that much of the time I’m reporting something that will interest you and start one of our conversations or even a debate or “argument,” in the French sense of the word. Mission accomplished this time.
Lively, intelligent, non-aggressive conversation is probably what I love most about living in France (and the food). I have observed and at times participated in passionate conversations/debates and they are so much fun. Never have I seen or been involved in unpleasant exchanges.
Clearly, some of you felt that I was unfairly judging the woman I interviewed, and perhaps you are correct. I didn’t do so intentionally or to be unkind. It was simply an unbidden reaction. I was surprised to see her unkempt appearance. She is the image of her brand. Her brand is, by all definitions, quite glamourous. She had an opportunity to create an image that speaks to her products. She chose not to do so. Obviously she had every right to dress however she desired.
The point I was trying to convey was a missed opportunity on her part, not that the woman had nothing to say or that she was boring in any way. She was not. We had a productive interview and I in no way held a prejudice against her for her vestment choice.
I forgot to mention that she did three other interviews that day, prior to and after mine, all set-up by my public relations friend. Furthermore, as I said, I introduced her to a friend of mine because I thought their meeting could be mutually beneficial. If I had not appreciated what she said (as well as her products of course) I would have never introduced them. And on the occasion of their meeting, weeks later, my friend had the same initial reaction I did, but they plan on working together.
All I was saying, and continue to believe, is that presenting our best selves is a reflection of our personalities and is, at the same time, our first line of expression. Everyone has the option to take advantage of that extra boost, or not.
Finally, Amal Clooney, words cannot convey what an incredible woman she is and was long before she met her husband. Once again, if we are to believe the article in The Telegraph, she is demonstrating her extraordinary intelligence by using all the means at her disposal to advance her remarkable human rights work and that apparently includes how she dresses. If she is photographed walking into the United Nations partially because she is wearing a yellow coat and dress and then the press — maybe feeling guilty for being superficial — reports on her impassioned speech, then let’s hope she moved her agenda forward.
Ed. Note: Believe me, there is no way she — the woman I interviewed — will be aware of these posts — for two reasons: She doesn’t know I have a blog and she doesn’t speak English.