True Colours

Black and white BW B&W Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street photography

Lookin’ Sharp

When you really think about it, it’s fascinating how western culture so easily gets used to doing personal things in public that would have originally been kept behind closed doors. Personal grooming might be a tame example but I’ve seen things that I’ve even refused to photograph, and others that actually stunned me into forgetting to raise my camera to the spectacle.

I’ve seen grown men stand up in crowded shopping mall food courts to unzip their flies, and undo their belt buckles in order to hike up their shorts or straighten and better tuck in their shirts. I once saw a woman sitting on a park bench tilt herself to one side so that she could pass gas loudly, and then nonchalantly resettle back into her original position. Probably many are aware of those ladies who put on their pantyhose and makeup while driving their cars to work in the morning. Those big oafs who urinate in public. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve seen university students picking their noses while studying on public transit or in libraries. Just earnestly digging for that gold.

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14 thoughts on “True Colours

  1. hàhahaha. Interesting but true. I remember years ago,while shopping in Australia I was going down an escalator when I accidentally saw a couple was kissing while going up the escalator. I quickly looked away and could feel my face turned red. That was my first experience living in an ‘open’ society/culture.

  2. Sharp, astute observations. You know, nothing to be ashamed about cleaning up about ourselves in public. There’s a certain air of confidence about that, and a ‘who cares’ attitude. Just be yourself, be who you are. We all do what each other do as well at some point in our lives. No need to run or hide away from doing what we want to do that is so ‘private’. Some of us might be more subtle about it…but someone, someone will always notice 😀

    • Growing up, my mum always instilled in her children the importance of personal grooming. It was imperative to do when we were to go out anywhere, and it was even important to maintain tidiness while we were out. It was for many reasons, including general self-respect. A big one that probably many of the people we interacted with didn’t know; however, was the fact that we were blacks in North America. A land in which we would hear countless whites openly express a commonly held believe that blacks are filthy and don’t bathe or take care of ourselves. We supposedly have no idea about hygiene.

      From early childhood I was raised to understand that I was subject to this stereotype, and it was so impressed upon me that it was my duty to represent my fellow blacks by ensuring that I carried myself with the utmost dignity. This included a high level of personal grooming among other things. A I write this, I am now 47 years of age, and that thinking is still a major part of how I carry myself in public.

      • Such an interesting perspective on personal grooming, Allan. You are who you are. How we present ourselves is something that most of us can control, and so speak volumes of what we are capable of. The process of personal grooming – and the backstory of it just like yours – can be just as fascinating as the image we each choose to present to the world.

  3. We human beings have different barriers for what is acceptable behaviour in public, don’t we. Yes, grooming one’s hair might not be the biggest issue, but it wasn’t long ago (when cell phones were a new thing) many were offended by people speaking publicly on their cell phone, like the other guy you have captured does. 🙂

  4. Actually, if you go and see the pictures of famous photographers from the past you can find nothing but interesting scenes of daily life and it is precious. This is why I love the pictures about daily life.

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