Building a Likeness

When I was flying to Japan, I watched a bunch of stuff on the in flight entertainment system and when I got home, I emailed my friend and told her I thought she looked like Lily, the adopted Vietnamese kid in Modern Family. She wasn’t impressed, for some reason, but I found the resemblance is uncanny, even though the age difference must be thirty years. Then I looked up the actress, who is actually half Korean, with a very English sounding name, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. By the way, yesterday’s Drop was set in Korea, incase you missed it. Anyway, this incident made me think about how specific parts of people, like eyes, or even smaller ones like eyebrows or nostrils, often resemble those same parts of other people, and that these limited overlaps tend to link two people as lookalikes, when really, only the bridges of their noses, or the shape of their eye-sockets might correspond, or maybe a combination of the two. I do this too, of course. Looking at pictures of my friend, and Lily again in detail, I decided it was only the shape of the mouth, lips and teeth that bordered on the identical, and the nose that was similar. But I’d pinned them as lookalikes right away.

In the fascinating national Geographic show, Test your Brain, I learned that we compensate enormously to make sense of the world, constantly finishing incomplete images, relying on memory to write the present, and automatically bridging information gaps. Maybe that’s what we are doing with people’s faces too, when we say, ‘hey, you look just like Jennifer Love Hewitt, or Axl Rose (post facelift!), when it would be more accurate, and perhaps more useful to just say, wow, your Adam’s apple looks just like Orlando Bloom’s, or the distance between your bottom lip and chin looks precisely the same length as Margaret Thatcher’s, or you and Lana del Rey have exactly the same lips! – though, I guess, anyone can get a set of those. I mean, people do say stuff like ‘you have your father’s eyes,’ and ‘she has her mother’s smile,’ but generally, we like to generalize. Anyway,  we can end up with situations like this: A and B look just like each other, but A is gorgeous and B is hideous (according to current cultural norms and stereotypes), or A is long and pale, while and B is squat and tan (they could still have the same size and shape nose, little ears etc.) Have you (relying heavily on current values and stereotypes once more, and even more so, subscribing to the compensating habit I describe above) ever met the ugly or beautiful version of yourself? The fat or skinny version of yourself? Your lookalike from another race or age group?

I’m rambling again. Today’s Drop, #14, is titled Lookalike. As usual, it’s the post before this one, and below it on the main page.


About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

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