Monday, May 18, 2009

The Ways in Which We Present Ourselves, Part I

Ladies and gentlemen, as you have undoubtedly been told over and over, you only get one first impression. Actually we get numerous first impressions, unless someone goes through life without ever meeting anyone new. First impressions are important because, like it or not, people do judge others based on appearance, as well as a few other factors.

Many Pagans believe that the world is out to get them. The world is full of non-Pagans (read: evil, nasty, narrow-minded Christians) who will judge them no matter how nicely they dress (in their finest Renaissance Faire garb and largest pentacles), how qualified they are for a job, how nice they are, etc.

Now, people who know me know that I occasionally dress in weird clothes, but not for work or for interviews. In fact, my father calls some of my wardrobe my "gypsy trash" clothes, but I know better than to dress like Stevie Nicks if I want to land a job. I have to cover the tattoos and wear something professional. Another thing that I do, which is one of the topics I'm about to discuss, is BATHE.

Yes, that's right, I get into that big fiberglass tub and actually let warm water run all over my body.

I want to talk about the ways in which some people present themselves to the public and how even this can damage our image in the public eye. I am sorry to say that I know a few Pagans (and yes, even a few non-Pagans) who do not make themselves presentable in any way, shape or form.

Have any of you noticed this? What is it with the people who show up to an open circle, or even host a circle in their own homes, without cleaning themselves. The pre-ritual cleansing isn't just to get us spiritually clean and prepared for ritual. It's also to clean our physical bodies so we don't offend others with body odor, bad breath, and greasy hair.

Seriously, people! How do you think this affects the public's view of us? What kind of impression do you think people get of Pagans when they see a group of people with greasy hair, possibly decorated with dandruff, dirty clothes (usually something mis-matched, a faded/torn dragon t-shirt, or varying shades of black), rotting teeth, and a bunch of pentacles/Celtic knot-whatever/Thor's hammers/dragons, etc. Come on!

Think about the last time you saw a representative of Wicca on the television. What did that person/group of people look like? The last time I saw a priestess on television, it was on A Haunting, one of my favorite Discovery Channel shows. She had a fading bleach job complete with two-inch dark roots, was wearing too much eyeliner, had a smoker's voice, and was missing several teeth. Nice, huh?

Is there some sort of connection between Paganism and poor hygeine? Can someone explain it to me?

As for the dental thing, I can partially answer that myself. Many of us do not have health or dental insurance, but that's pretty common among Americans. Quite a large percentage of Americans have limited or no health insurance, and many benefits do not cover dental. That shouldn't stop people from brushing and flossing, however. Oral infections can spread to the rest of the body and even affect one's heart. A lot of people still smoke, which also has negative effects on one's oral health. (I would like to point out that I have used the word "oral" twice in one paragraph, both times with a straight face.)

Now, not everyone is into makeup. It's expensive, it takes a while to apply, and for some people, it doesn't fit in with their ideas of feminism. That's fine. I'm not saying you need to be perfectly coiffed and have expertly applied makeup whenever you leave the house. No one expects June Cleaver. Hell, I don't care if you choose not to shave your legs, even! But please, for the love of all things sacred, take a fucking bath. Please.

Has anyone else ever experienced this? I know I'm not the only person who has gone to an open circle and ended up sitting around with people who looked and smelled as though they hadn't bathed in several days. Personal acquaintances of mine fit into this category. I can honestly tell you that in all the time I have known a certain group of people, I have witnessed one of them bathing twice. I've known these people for about 8 years and have spent two or three days in their home for various reasons. I was the only one showering and brushing my teeth. What. The. Fuck.

Talk to me, people. Do you know people like this? Share your horror stories with me in the comments. Just change the names to protect the slovenly.

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