Imagine that you're walking down the street, you're minding your own business when somebody 'different' catches your eye. Maybe they're in some way disabled, maybe their gender isn't immediately clear, maybe they're heavily tattooed, like myself, or they could be covered in piercings. It could even be a severe skin condition or an unusual haircut that makes them so noticeable. For whatever reason they've come into your line of vision and it's made you want to get a good look at them.
So, what do you do next? Can you satisfy your curiousity/disgust/admiration with a swift glance or two? Or do you stare at them, practically open-mouthed, until they are fully aware of what you're doing and made to feel completely uncomfortable?
I'm writing about this subject because as an obviously modified woman, who's been blessed with a somewhat flamboyant sense of style, I'm constantly on the receiving end of said gazes. It's often assumed that people who stand out in a crowd are looking for attention and are cool with being stared at like that. We don't and we're not cool with it, not at all. And if it's a challenging experience for myself, who chose to look the way I do and am very happy with how my body decorations have turned out, it must be ten times worse for those who hate the way they appear.
Kids can be cruel as we all well know. But we're grown ups and we should certainly know better! That person, the one whose feelings you deemed less important than your own satisfaction, could be at the end of their tether on that particular day. They may go home and sob their hearts out while cursing you and every other idiot who couldn't keep their beady eyes to themselves and their slack jawed mouths shut..
I, myself, have found a wonderful solution to the problem. If I catch somebody looking at me like this when I'm out and about, I look them in the eye and smile. Often they'll smile right back at me, or be so confused that they walk into a lamp post or some other large painful object to slam into. It's a win-win situation really! And to ye, the compulsive starers - if you genuinely can't help being a nosy Nancy, then try the smiling technique too. Not a sad and pitying one, but a grin filled with warmth and empathy. We're all just humans, all unique while being completely the same deep down. So smile! Because even a moment of genuine connection with another person, albeit a complete stranger, can be all it takes to make somebody's or even your own day that little bit brighter. And that can only be a good thing.