Google+ Authentic Parenting: On Appearance, Expectations and Discrepancies (rerun)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Appearance, Expectations and Discrepancies (rerun)

Ever so often, I discover just how far I have deviated from the mainstream. You must know that my confrontation with the mainstream is limited to a minimum, and thus I remain in my little utopia that consists mainly of virtual relationships.

Sometimes, I am baffled by the assumptions people have when they talk to me. Mostly, these assumptions are based on a hegemonic set of expectation, but I am starting to wonder if maybe some of these expectations are a result of my appearance.
I know that people who distinctly adhere to a subculture or who's appearance deviates to some extent of what is considered mainstream are subject to a different approach then people who don't or who only have a slightly 'deviant' look. Based on our looks, an entire set of assumptions are made and people adapt how they approach another person based on these assumptions.

As for me, how I look and what I am are apparently two unrelated things. It can get really frustrating when people come up to me to talk about things like schooling and child rearing and food and just assume that I will agree with their way of thinking. That those dominant hegemonic ideas are mine too.
I don't want to have to correct every person I talk to. I don't want to be preaching about what I believe in because I know a lot of those people just wouldn't listen and I'd be wasting my breath.
But by not reacting I am offering an affirmation of that dominant culture I so disagree with.

Do I need to change my appearance so people wouldn't make these assumptions about me anymore? Why is there such a huge discrepancy between what I stand for and how I look. Is it merely a matter of appearance or is there more? Is it just the fact that they just don't ever imagine there being other options?

Image: Jan Blok on Flickr



  1. I think that stereotypically, you'd associate AP/unschooling/ gentle dicipline and breastfeeding past 6mths with "hippie". i have been called this so many times. Even though outwardly, i look nothing like a hippie. And neither do most people who parent the same way. I don't think you should change how you look. By doing so, you'd be doing it to please other peoples assumptions of yourself. Instead, i think you should stand up and voice your opinion on what you believe in. By not doing, its showing that maybe you don't firmly believe in it yourself. People need to stop making assumptions and start to open their minds. =o)

    Toni Love

  2. Hi Toni!
    Don't get me wrong, I do voice my beliefs, to whomever wants to hear it. All the people I know at least a little know we are attached parents, unschoolers, non-autoritative etc... It's just the people I hardly know, or meet for the first time, of whom I sense by their attitudes and statements that they are not open minded to whom I refrain because explaining and defending everything over and over again is very tiresome.

    The strange thing however is that even those who know eventually tend to forget that we're not mainstream sometimes

    anyway, thank youo for your comment

  3. I kind of know what you are talking about. I look extremely preppy-total upper class soccer mom-so imagine people's reactions when they find out that I'm a "hippie/crunchy granola" mama. (Their words, not mine) Luckily, (knock on wood) I have never had to defend my lifestyle. Usually the conversation gets opened up when people ask me what my secret is to having such well-behaved, happy, well adjusted children. Their response to my "secret" is usually "Wow. There's really something to that, huh?" :)

  4. It happens to me, too. When my DH, a skinny Grizzly Adams, is with me, then they're not nearly as surprised that I'm nursing a 21mo, that we think about what goes into our bodies, that we see an ND/midwife. That we planned to homebirth, co-sleep, on-demand bfing, no-circing, cloth diapering, etc. Then I have to remind myself not to be surprised that my homebirthing Sis-I-L, has no care to cook a meal, has fed her Aspergers son McDonlalds and various pizza to him for years (now he wont eat much else) and wont look outside mainstream health-(don't)care for info/treatments for Aspergers - she figures the Dr. would tell her of anything she needed to know. I found that shocking because I first knew that she had homebirthed her son 17yrs before and I expect women who homebirth to be a little less mainstream, a little more aware and informed, and into, quite frankly, the alternative options of most everything.

  5. Hello,I found a link to your blog on theblogfrog, great to see an open minded parent. Both my boys experienced traditional school and homeschooling. We raised our boys with an open mind encouraging them to be who they came here to be. Signed up as a follower. If you get a chance I hope you'll check out my blog.

  6. Sometimes it is easier to be a foreigner, in that I am so far outside the Spanish high heeled mainstream that no one questions my choices. I pop the boob out whereever and pack my toddler in a sling and people just say blame it on my passport.

  7. I can relate somewhat. I bartend (very part time but have been at the same restaurant for 10 yrs) and the people are often surprised that I recycle wool and make soakers & longies, etc for cloth diapering. I have an online store and sell to local businesses, etc. They'll ask how & why and I know they don't get it but for the most part they embrace what I do I think because I don't shy away from it. I think (or would hope) people might surprise you. And to me I think its a breath of fresh air to find someone not fitting in the little box soceity put them in. My 16 yr old has pink hair and I remind her its important to always be polite etc because people are going to first she the hair and that she is representing that genre in a way and what better way to open people's minds. I have been fortunate though to surround myself with many like minded people through my business and many have become friends so we support each other, that I'm sure helps me face the mainstream world without any hesitation.


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