A friend whose opinion I respect forwarded me a photo taken when I did not — shall we say — look my best. It got me thinking: Does this require action? Should I tighten up my reputation management? Get a makeover? What do geezer rockers do about this sort of thing? Does Robert Plant worry about his hair? Closed eyes?
We are well on our way in an era of visual communication. Some people are blessed with telegenic looks and would shine climbing out of a dumpster. Does the way Nigella Lawson looks sell cookbooks? Of course. For the rest of us, it’s luck of the draw (or click). Forget command and control. I once worked with a top-ranking executive who, confronted with an unflattering photo, dispatched his minions to buy up every available copy of the trade mag in which it appeared, a feat that can never be repeated. As for prep, the jury’s out. I recently caught myself reaching over to sort out a no-nonsense entrepreneur’s hair (female). She’d probably been up since 4 that morning. Working. Personally, I think candid photography before 9 a.m. is cruel and unusual punishment.
What does our appearance say about us? My mother, raised a Texas girl, never poured her coffee or opened a newspaper until her lipstick and hair were in place. I can’t remember a time when she didn’t look beautiful. Then again, I remember Hillary Clinton’s eulogy at Gov. Ann Richards’ funeral less for what she said (although it was memorable: she touched on just this subject) than that she looked exhausted — like she’d worked all night and still cared enough to show up and honor someone who’d been important to her.
As for me, I’m leaning in the direction of a well-developed sense of humor. That may be the point.