Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hooded Eyelids and Other Character Flaws

Just like for each of us in real life, character flaws can define who a fictional character is, where they are coming from, and why they are behaving the way they behave.

In a former job, a coworker continually shared facial exercise techniques to decrease the hooded above-eye area. I, Miss Slow-on-the-Uptake, didn't realize, until I interrupted her one day so I could finish a project and she drilled me with the "look", that the hooded lids she targeted were mine. (I get the title Miss Slow-on-the-Uptake honestly.)

Looking back, I wonder why was the hoodedness of my eyelids such a priority to this person?

If her suggestions came from caring, perhaps she would have come in early to help relieve me of some of my tasks so that I wasn't so hoodedly exhausted. Or brought back lunch from her two- to three-hour lunch break. Maybe, when she left work at 4PM, she might have even offered to take some of my workload home with her so that exhaustion didn't weigh down my eyelids so much.

Now, if she were a consider-the-source type of person, her upper lids would have been toned to the max, right? All the facial excercises she encrouaged would have tightened and toned such things as jowls and chins, so she might have been sharing out of enthusiasm... Nah. No learning by example there.

The WAY she presented the techniques is telling. She demonstrated the techniques loudly, in an office environment, sometimes in front of several others. A put down? An inner-office joke? A my-upper-lids-are-more-toned-than-yours taunt?

After I left the job, an amazing thing happened. Those upper eyelid hoods receded more than a bit. And guess what, thanks to that former co-worker, I have personally demonstrated exercises to take care of the rest of potential drooping hoods.

Honestly, because of the way I was raised to treat people and respect people's personal issues, her showing me what was "wrong" with me did not even sink in initially. I would never, ever point out so-called deficiencies. For instance, openly demonstrating neck, chin, and lower cheek-lifting stretches. How cruel and wrong is that?

Yet, the me of today, more than likely, due to life experiences since then, might respond differently. Likely, I would say something, at least I would after the light bulb that I was being targeted when on (the old uptaker is still in the slow mode). Odd are I might speak up about the sharing the work load might just help with the hoods. OR I might quip that if I had time for a bathroom break, I might be able to make time to exercise my face.

Possibly after a 90-hour work week (yeah, I worked more than a few of those), I might be exhausted enough to tap into that edgy side of myself, you know that part of us that we all have the creeps out every now and then, and told her to go show someone who wasn't working and actually gave a crap.

Or I might ask if she practiced in a mirror. (A not in-her-face zing that more than likely would have zoomed over her head.)

Characters too, react differently depending on their belief systems, environments, and motivations. How one character might act at the beginning of the book, may differ from how they interact at the end. Depending on where they come from internally, Character A might very well tell someone off, while Character B might run away in tears.

In fiction, as in real life, not everyone is nice. Some people are helpful because they truly care, some have an agenda, some want put other characters in their place, while others want to cause harm.

Those character flaws that cause a character to point out hooded eyelids, for whatever reason, add depth to fictional characters. And as readers, the why of this exhibited flaw being revealed as the story unfolds adds richness, connection, and relatability (either with the particular character or with being treated in such a manner in real life.)

Please excuse me now, I'm off to exercise my face, with a focus on my upper eyelids.

(Wouldn't former co-worker be proud!)

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