Over a decade ago I read the book, You’ve Got Only Three Seconds. Author Camille Lavington writes that lasting judgements are made in 3 seconds or less. Communication consultants concur that how we appear is strategic for a job interview. Dress for success. Body language is also crucial. Strong handshake, posture and eye contact are all suggested tactics to consider to present a strong positive first impression.
Professionals suggest that it actually only takes a “blink of an eye” or one tenth of a second to make an impression. I have always believed first impressions translate into all areas of life. Appearance speaks volume. It makes sense to reexamine what message my clothes, jewelry, makeup and body language might be giving. Social media is capturing our lives for the world to see, so there is even greater incentive to think twice about how I come across.
New Looks for Old Dolls
There is a stunning example that I have discovered that exemplifies the contrasts of image projection. Sonia Singh is a creative mom in Australia who started upcycling bratz dolls. She simply removes the eye and lip color and repaints a more realistic look. Her mother creates new wardrobes. In a glance it is clear that the same barbie can be both realistic or hyper sexualized based on appearance. The transformation is staggering and much to her surprise it has caused a tidal wave of interest. It has sparked a discussion about the suitability of some toys our children play with.
Upcycling an old doll with a new look appeals to a mixed crowd. Feminists, environmentalists, young mothers and modesty adherents are thrilled with her creations. Ironically it wasn’t her intention to make a grand statement on the sexualization of some dolls or the importance of recycling old toys. She says it was a fun hobby to make a more natural looking child’s dollie.
Nonetheless the makeover is fascinating. When the dolls are compared side by side the contrast is a powerful demonstration of image projection. First impressions last and many irreversible judgments are made.
The Unintended Message
I recognize that there is a culture component to consider. When I was in Thailand in the mid 80s I wore a pair of custom designed sterling earrings to an outdoor market. The woman at the jewelry stall was transfixed by my expensive art gallery created earrings. My ah ha moment was the realization that what I wore on my ears represented to her at least a month’s salary. I was making a statement about my wealth whether I intended to or not.
Last Thought. Appearance Matters.
Are first impressions only important for a job interview? We send out signals to those around us even before they meet us. If my body language and appearance makes an impression in a blink of an eye perhaps I need to be more aware of what I am saying. Duly noted.