What’s your favorite color?
“Do these pants make my butt look too big?” Chances are, they do and the person asking already really knows the answer. Even if they don’t make the model’s butt look too big, the point is she is uncertain and uncomfortable. The question should be, “Do I think these make my butt look too big?” An honest answer to oneself is the only one that truly matters.
How do we come to decide our likes and dislikes? If we were in isolation, devoid of other’s inputs or reactions, would we be able to identify our own true feelings? How do we know when we truly like something? Is it easy to separate our personal preferences from outside influence?
Think about colors. When children are little they often ask, “What’s your favorite color?” Do little girls like pinks and purples because that is what is pushed at them by products that are marketed for them or is that truly their preference? And when did that start? At what point in history did American manufacturers decide those colors for female children’s products? Were there studies? I distinctly remember why I turned my nose up at purple. I had an aunt whose wardrobe consisted mainly of purple. My mother disliked that aunt. My mother disliked purple. But I truly believed that I disliked the color purple of my own natural accord.
As a little girl my fiercely independent daughter identified piranhas as her favorite animal specifically because all of the other little girls in her class chose dolphins as theirs. She never really cared much for animals at all but she claimed piranhas as her favorite precisely to separate herself from the pack. Why does it matter if a person likes orange the most or is drawn to dolphins or piranhas as a favorite creature? Why are we so driven to be of like mind to the point of denying our true personal preferences? Again, without any outside influence would we have personal preference of color or animal or style at all?
How can we find our own unadulterated likes and dislikes? I have come to see that I must give longer consideration on matters of preference. A very confident individual seems relaxed and comfortable with his or her choices. They carry off the loud shirt or the big necklace with flare because they truly like the item. With such a push to belong and fit in society dulls or mutes the voice of individual preference. Sometimes it is necessary to identify the silent space between the outside world and the self to hear what we as individuals authentically want.
If every single person on the planet understood and approved of his or her own individual choice would the world be better off or does conformity make for peace and harmony?
“it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle