Many years ago (1996) I was working as a stage manager for the Royal Court Theatre. In the rehearsal room of a play called ‘Sweet heart’ we were discussing one of the characters. The director (Roxana Silbert) was painting a picture of one of the female characters; she was discussing to the actress (Nicola Walker), how the character was one of those girls who has low self-esteem. She said the kind of girl who carries her personal belongings in a plastic shopping bag. Everyone laughed in recognition of that kind of girl. A ballerina pointed toe hooked through the handle of my plastic shopping bag, as I pulled it safely under the chair.
I had never considered self-esteem before, and not by what it looks like anyway. Due to the conversation in the rehearsal room I began to see how you presented yourself as an image, made people conclude your look was how you felt about yourself. I grew up in second hand clothes; I didn’t have the option to find my own style until much later in life. I don’t think I thought it really mattered, but the kids at school did. I got called ‘Oxy’ which was short for Oxfam.

During the run of the show, one of my second hand jackets was admired by actress Kate Beckensale. She even wore it on stage once, when she left her costume in the dressing room. I bought it for £15.00, Kate got a similar one on the Kings Road for £200.00. At the time that was £100.00 short of my wage for the week! I flipped out as I couldn’t understand how you could spend that much money on a jacket. Of course the answer is simple, if you like something and you can afford it, buy it. I would worry about not having rainy day money, I never would have spent that kind of money on myself.

Image has become your brand. How people see you physically say’s something about you, It’s easy to market a designer image off these factors. How many people do we over look by them not fitting into a stereo type of what success or normality looks like. Some of the most successful people in the world, just look really normal. I get into great conversations with all sorts of people having a Dog. People what to pet her and talk to me about her, it’s like having love on a lead. A few days ago a man who looked to me to be homeless, I stopped and talked to me about the dog. He was really lovely and interesting. As he walked away I noted the plastic carrier bag with his belongings in it.

Through our external judgements we miss out on so many amazing people. It takes an intuitive kind of person, to look beyond first impressions. The kind of baggage we carry on the outside,  is not an indication of the baggage we may carry on the inside.

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