What do you see?

5 Mar

Michael sent me an IM message this afternoon.

Michael: “Remember that guy we saw at such-and-such place? I just bumped into him again.”

Me: “You mean the big guy with the beard and the denim shirt with the so-and-so logo on it?”

Michael: “No, the other guy.”

Me: “Oh, the one with the graying hair and bushy mustache.”

Michael: “Yeah, that one! Geez, I can’t believe the details you remember.”

Me: “I don’t know, hair’s just one of those things I always seem to notice. I don’t look for it, but I guess it’s how my brain recognizes patterns. Like if someone’s had a hair cut or dyed their hair, I usually notice it right away.”

Me (again): “Which is probably why all those guys in ‘The Dirty Dozen’ all look exactly the same to me.”

Michael: “That’s funny, ’cause they all look SOOOOO different to me!”

I read an article on face recognition technology some time ago that mentioned the fact that our brains are physically wired to recognize faces; this is supposed to be why we see faces even in places where none exist, like in clouds and stucco and potato chips. Based on this little conversation (an exhaustive sample size of two) it seems that we don’t all process faces in the same way.

I know a woman who is always commenting on people’s size like that is the most pertinent distinguishing feature. She’ll say so-and-so is a “big girl” or she’s “teeny tiny” or comment on a person’s weight loss or gain, whatever. It’s always seemed weight-obssessed to me, but now I think that it’s just what stands out to her.

How about you? What do you see when you look at a person?

8 Responses to “What do you see?”

  1. Beanie March 5, 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    The first thing anyone notices when they sopt another poerson is what sex they are. Ever meet someone you just couldn’t figure out? It drives you bonkers! Of course, you can’t just ask…

  2. Chris March 6, 2008 at 4:59 am #

    Nose, teeth/smile and eyes.
    Those are the things I notice conciously at least (or what will, or wont, leave an impression on me). But if I was to describe someone I had just met, I’d probably describe their hair, teeth and smile.

  3. IndyComp0T1 March 6, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    I notice the eyes and the nose for sure, and I tend to notice any facial piercings. I also tend to look at hands, especially on guys, to see if they have ridiculously long fingernails. I really think it’s gross for guys to have long fingernails. I also pay equal attention to bare feet (if they’re exposed), or shoes (tacky footwear really catches my eye).

  4. Lindsay March 6, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    Hair, and outfit. Wow, that makes me feel shallow.

  5. fawnahareo March 6, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    Oh, Beanie, you made me laugh! But of course you’re quite right.

    I hadn’t thought about piercings, but that’s a good point. Facial piercings definitely stand out.

    Lindsay, I don’t think that’s shallow at all. At least, if you are, then so am I. Did you notice the first guy I described? Hair (well, facial hair) and clothing. The guy with the graying mustache? He was wearing a bluish plaid shirt.

    Yep, hair and outfit.

  6. MommyTime March 6, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    Hair. I always notice hair. That and voices. It’s why I have such a hard time telling apart the students I refer to as “the baseball hat boys” — the ones who sit in the back row of my classrooms, never say a word, and wear baseball hats. As far as I can tell, they have neither hair nor voice, hence no distinct personality.

  7. shannon March 8, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    hmmm… once i scan them to see if they pass the minimum “do i want to converse with this person” criteria (like, are they high on drugs (ie: maybe dangerous), or if they haven’t bathed in weeks (ie: so disgusting i just can’t even be near them)) then i’m pretty sure what i remember is the conversation above everything else. i’m fairly good with faces, but if i recognize a face, i need to attach the conversation we had, or how we met or know eachother before i really feel like i’ve made the connection to WHO they are.

    so yes, you’re all shallow! 😉

    just kidding. i’m going to have to also agree with the piercings and tattoos. i have to come clean and admit that i judge people on these things in a negative way. i don’t want to, i just do (like its engrained in me for some reason; okay, the reason is that my dad brainwashed me to do so).

    oh, and any guy who answers your question and doesn’t respond “her boobs” is a DAMN LIAR!!!!!

  8. Nita March 10, 2008 at 7:52 am #

    What they’re wearing! Once I didn’t even notice that two ladies in my reception area were twins – I noticed they were both wearing the same (unattractive) shirt and I thought it was odd – and later someone said something about the “twins” and I hadn’t even noticed! I could only remember the incredibly unattractive shirts they were wearing! Wonder what that says about me?! LOL!

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