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Double-Consciousness, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1412

Essay

Sometimes, there is a difference between how you see yourself and how others perceive you as a person. Some people can’t help wondering what others think of them, and how they judge them. We all make decisions about the other person very quickly based on the first impression. But what we see is only one aspect of them. People are judgmental and biased, use stereotypes to categorize those they meet, and this cannot be avoided. We all have prejudices and make assumptions. In my life, I have faced this issue several times. Being a hard-working person and a good communicator, I became a personal shopper a while back. I am proud of my job and I am good at it, therefore, I do earn good money. People I meet make assumptions based on my behavior, style, and outfit that I am just a rich Asian girls who is being pushed through her studies and making a life by her parents, who provide her with endless supply of money. I do not fit in that stereotype, but the society is ready to categorize me as a lazy Asian rich girl, and this creates double-consciousness.

There is clearly a difference between what others think about my life and what the reality is.  The truth is that I do work erratic hours, and I have to rely on my interpersonal skills to get and retain clients. I do not have my family backing me financially, and I strive for perfection in order to get clients to recommend me. Walking into an expensive shop people often judge me based on what I buy, and how I choose the items. Indeed, I often have to give up my personality and preferences to suit clients’ needs. Still, buying luxury items and those only top earners can afford puts me into the “well off” category. People make judgments, and I do not have the time or energy to correct it. The society as a whole unit relies on stereotypes.

At one time, I was walking into a home decoration shop to find some matching items for the small bedroom in my apartment. I was decently dressed, and I had been there before to look for some luxury Tiffany lamp shades for one of the clients. I met the same salesperson who served me when I was shopping for my client. She welcomed me as if I was one of her regular clients, and tried to sell me the most expensive items first. I only needed a few pictures and ornaments in a specific shade of brown to match the decor of the room. However, I was judged based on my previous purchases made at the same store, and the salesperson tried to sell me luxury items. When I finally got to tell her that I was on a budget, she turned back and said: “I am sure that your parents would be happy to wire some money over for you”. This comment hurt and made me realize that how other people perceive me based on my appearance is completely different from how I view myself. I faced the issue of double-consciousness, and had to decide how to deal with it.

Obviously, I did not want to get arrogant or rude, as the salesperson was simply making assumptions based on appearances. It was indeed a part of her job, and I knew that she had a target on which her bonus depended on. I also knew that it was hard to connect with people the first time, as I had to deal with some really unique clients during my career as a personal shopper. I had two options at that point. I could simply walk out of the store assuming that I would not be offered the merchandise I was looking for, and not wanting to explain my situation. Or I could tell the saleswoman about my real position in a polite way. If I am honest, I had to bite my tongue a couple of times while thinking about the next step, as I was on the verge of telling the salesperson not to make assumptions, and enlightening her that I was simply a girl like her, who was trying to make a living of other people’s purchases. At this point, the idea came to me, and I knew what I had to do.

After thinking about the different ways to explain myself and make my situation clear to the salesperson in a polite way, I decided that I would build the answer on similarities between us. This way, I could help her relate to me, and understand where I am coming from. As I turned towards her to reply, I simply said:

“Thank you very much. Those items are really nice, but I have a budget. I believe that you thought that I was shopping for myself two weeks ago when I bought those Tiffany lamps. The truth is that my family does not support me, and I work as a personal shopper. While I do earn good money, I also need to save up for my future, to buy a house, a car, and start a life.”

The saleswoman looked at me and her face changed.

“I see. I was making assumptions, it is a part of my job”.

“I understand. We all do.” – I said.

At that point, I asked the woman to show me some reduced price items that would suit my budget. She was very helpful, and took me over to the sales department for small ornaments, showing me some decoration items that were reduced by 30-50 percent. I saw some items that I liked, and purchased them. I managed to stay within my budget, and the saleswoman was very friendly throughout the process. I knew that I managed to win her over by talking honestly and building a connection based on the similarities.

In the situation I believed myself to be an ordinary young Asian girl who has embraced Western values and is looking to buy something that makes her feel good about her home that she worked hard for. I believed myself to be dressed elegantly but also in a solid way: not like someone who is looking for attention. In the situation, inside I did feel a little bit out of place, as I would not buy 90 percent of the items in the shop as they were too expensive for me, and I had to save up for my future. Most other customers walking into the store did not have to worry about their budget, and had a steady stream of income. I had to rely on the next client to pay for my bills, and while I was earning good money, I still had to be careful.

The saleswoman certainly saw me as a well-off rich kid who is financially supported by her parents.  She might have thought that my parents sent me over to learn English and bought me an apartment, paid for my tuition fees, and living expenses. Her assumptions must have been based on my appearance: I looked elegant and sophisticated,  wearing stylish clothes. Further, the salesperson remembered me from two weeks before when I was buying expensive items, and automatically assumed that I was one of her typical clients who do not have anything else to do but to go shopping, eat out, and have the most expensive coffee in town.

This experience had an impact on my self-identity. I realized that I was being judged every time I walked into a store or into school. I started thinking how my classmates would judge me based on how I dress and how look. I do not like looking out of place, therefore, I decided to start dressing differently for each occasion. I would like to blend in, even if it means that I am giving up something that is me. At the same time, I will still look elegant and sophisticated when dealing with clients, as my job requires me to adapt to a specific style.

I learned that the society likes using categories to put people in their right place, but people can be told when they are wrong. In today’s culture, most people are judged based on how they look: those they meet will determine how much money they make and how they are supposed to behave, based on the first impression. This experience with double-consciousness has made me view myself differently, and now I think more about what others perceive me to be like.

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