After seeing this woman's photo, I'd do the same kind of staring. Is it a mask? Is she real? When I discover she's real, now I'm curious what causes this particular look. I have large ears and at some point in my life I was curious why my ears were bigger that average. It's pretty much a genetic thing through my maternal grandfather's family. Where the trait originates I didn't particularly care.
When someone looks different enough from the other people you see every day-- ugly, attractive ... doesn't matter --you tend to stare. Apparently you can't just walk over to random people and ask things like "did you inherit those ears or are you a genetic anomaly?" and "you and your friend both have nice round rear ends, but what causes your waist to be so much wider than hers?" - it's considered rude. When our children do ask these questions of others, the child gets reprimanded (even if only by the shocked and insulted reaction by the other party) and learns not to educate themselves in this manner.
So you're out in public and you find yourself staring. Curiosity happens. Now, what's the next thing you do? Start whispering to the group you're with? Laughing? Making jokes? That's the problem. "Stop staring and start learning." Learning what exactly? That we're all humans and deserve the same respect? Yeah, your mama shoulda taught you that years ago.
How about we all just stop being assholes to each other?
I often try to think about it one step further, when you have a funny last name you have heard comments about it endless times already and I keep it for myself.
That also applies to famous people when they are in a casual environment, you look at them twice but that's the downside of being famous.
When it comes to visible things that are not self-explanatory I ignore them unless I want to know this person better. Then I ask directly once and then I am good.
This worked so far and I didn't offend someone so far, I think.
It's one of the many ways that the Internet has amplified character issues that already existed in society.
UK TV station Channel 4 had an interesting documentary where they paired up people with facial disfigurement and people who really wanted cosmetic surgery. The comments that people with facial disfigurement had to endure in everyday life really were awful. (And there's plenty of research showing "ugly" people do less well than "pretty" people in things like job interviews and pay rises etc.)
(Unfortunately, most of the programmes had confrontational pairs who had little interest in understanding the other person.) The most interesting was a man who had extensive burn scars on his face, paired up with a woman who had large breasts. He went in saying that she should not have surgery at all. After a while he could see just how horrible people were to her just because of her large breasts. That's S01E01.
When you compare that to real violence, this is culturally very advanced.
There is the downside that some take stuff often very personal, they have to learn that these things are more about these people themselves than about the target.
I wonder if that's verifiable. Some very senseless acts of aggression have occurred among the spectators at sporting events.
If you want to truly understand someone's condition, first be their friend and earn the right to talk to them about it. Or jump on wikipedia.
But don't stare. People are not here for your edu-porn.
Pattern recognition is so innate that when we perceive something that breaks the expected pattern our first instinct is to keep looking at it until we understand what we're looking at. It's unconscious, and if we're lucky we'll catch ourselves doing it to a person and try to mitigate the circumstance with shifty glances elsewhere, but our eyes will always be drawn back as soon as our concentration wavers.
There is a literal jolt in my brain saying "what was that" and so I am probably going to at least double take before I have even mentally engaged with what is happening and considered the feelings of the person I am looking at.
Obviously this only applies to the initial moments after which I am far more likely to avoid looking at all for fear of upsetting them. It is far easier not to look than to act normally. We [should] all know staring is rude - but stringently avoiding looking is also very isolating I would imagine.
NB. No I am not comparing the person to a Zebra, but simply using an example of seeing something completely unexpected.
This woman is remarkable given the challenges she has had to face. I hope she continues to educate those with small minded opinions.
No, humans have a pretty converging opinion on what's attractive in other humans. To the point of being quantifiable https://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/fashion/09skin.html?pagew...
And, really, come on, the idea of sexual selection is 150 years old. We don't need to be slaves to it but it is real.
If you were to transport a person from 400 years ago into the present then you would find their idea of ugliness would be very different from our present opinion.
I agree that sexual selection isn't a new idea, however I would suggest it's more related to what the media and advertising tells us is optimal rather than other factors (e.g. see the changing sexual norms in teenagers due to porn).
>> Studies have shown that there is surprising agreement about what makes a face attractive. Symmetry is at the core, along with youthfulness; clarity or smoothness of skin; and vivid color, say, in the eyes and hair. There is little dissent among people of different cultures, ethnicities, races, ages and gender.
Symmetry works across species. Are zebras influenced by the current social norms?
>> Female Zebra Finches Prefer Males with Symmetric Chest Plumage
Search for symmetry and sexual in Google Scholar and you'll find hundreds of studies showing that those preferences are obviously innate. Maybe not all of them but a lot of them.
And the resulting judgement is instantaneous — humans can judge attractiveness unconsciously, without noticing it, in 13ms! http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/04/how-long-does-it-take-to-d...
> If you were to transport a person from 400 years ago into the present then you would find their idea of ugliness would be very different from our present opinion.
That's not falsifiable.
Besides that we have some conception of beauty ideals throughout the ages, as captured.
A person's physical appearance goes beyond the face. Body shape, fitness levels, etc are all factors in attractiveness, and those preferences have changed over the years, and vary significantly by population. The 19th century Victorian ideal didn't do much for a farm wife of the era.