I grew up being called dark. Growing up in a country obsessed with skin colour, it took me years to realise that wheatish complexion is not really dark, and who cares about skin colour anyway. I have friends and family who recall horror days of being labelled ‘fat’. Even freakishly thin people are traumatised by their nicknames such as ‘beanstalk’, ‘scarecrow’ or ‘skinny’.
So often, we are asked to describe a person for the purpose of identification. Suppose you are a guy at a bar and you want to point out a particular person, say a woman, to your friend. Suppose this woman is with one other person who is fat, while the woman you are looking at is slender. How do you describe her to your friends so he identifies her easily? Do you use the words ‘tall, ‘thin, ‘tall’, ‘fair’…?
I recently read a book by Lee Child (who is one of my favorite thriller writers)—I think it was 61 Hours. In the book, a woman was described to the protagonist Jack Reacher as ‘the woman wearing glasses’. This a lesson in life, to learn to identify a person using appropriate descriptions rather than adjectives, something that doesn’t evoke sexuality, body parts, etc., but instead the more obvious unambiguous traits / elements that makes a person who he/she is.
I now look at people in new light. I observe things about them beyond their appearance that tell you what kind of person he/she probably is. I know spectacles have something to do with appearance, but it is an item unattached to the body (i.e. does not describe the body in any way. Therefore, I make a note of that. Identification by way of clothes if fine too as long as the observation is not derogatory, such as red blouse, blue trouser, polo necked sweater, etc.