We have learned a great deal of what we know about history through symbolism, since language, of course, is a form of symbolism. Where would we be without it?
Symbolism can be completely subjective, such as with our dreams at night, which often include symbolic significance. The way one person interprets a dream can vary drastically from the way another person does. But the thing about subjectivity is that nobody can argue with you about your interpretation.
Symbolism can be mimetic, as well, meaning that it is culturally adhered to with profound agreement on a grand scale. Take marketing and advertising, for example. Repeatedly seeing something can not only make you subconsciously want it, but it can also go viral and affect everybody else as well. Ads can make us CRAVE something so bad that we feel like we NEED it just to survive. It's socially accepted that seeing a stylized 'M' will make you 'want fries with that'.
As a writer-artist, I enjoy symbolism a great deal. I think it's fun to find those subtle cues laying just beneath the surface. I like watching people and trying to guess what they are talking about just by reading their body language.
Through the use of colours and other visual representations, we are able to express feelings that don't always have words. Even writers are grateful for these silent ways of communicating sentiments! Tattoos, for example, clearly display what one values. In recent years, tattoos have represented personal stories even more so than serving to indicate a person's lifestyle.
For some people of older generations, long hair on a man might symbolize that he is 'a bum' or 'a bad boy.' Nowadays, however, many men choose long hair because it is their preference and not because they want to look menacing. In fact, many men consider long hair a symbol of freedom. This is especially true in the case of an aboriginal man.
That being said, a lot of men shave their heads because they are going bald and there's no two ways of looking at that.
The typical woman considers her hair as a symbol of femininity and many women would feel naked and ugly without long hair. I will admit in all humility that I have nice hair when it is long, but I consider it a real chore to have to carry around all of my golden curly locks with me everywhere I go!
I have shaved my head a number of times and I absolutely LOVE the feeling of having no hair on my head. To me, it is the ultimate sense of freedom. I also consider it a freedom and an honour to grow it out when I feel like it, so that's what I'm doing this year (in case you see me but don't recognize me from my column picture!)
When I first started shaving my head, it was as a symbol of spiritual cleansing and renewal. I was going through a major life change at the time and I wanted to release myself from all vanity.
However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, indeed, because I met my husband when I had no hair! Kelt actually had long hair for the first five years of our relationship and, with the exception of the year I was pregnant, I was the one who kept shorn! Although ours is not a typical hair-role relationship, we have given each other the freedom to do as we see fit with our appearance.
My man's beard, to me, is wonderfully masculine. But a beard on a woman is too.
Curves symbolize femininity just as well as long hair (or lack of facial hair) does. So many women get down on their bodies because they are three-dimensional instead of two-dimensional! Rather than torturing ourselves, we should be celebrating our natural forms!
I like to keep a big bowl with fruit on my kitchen table as a symbol of a healthy home inhabited by healthy eaters. So, most symbols are also quite practical!
When we consider that we can be saying so much without any words at all, we might want to take stock of our non-verbal expressions and make some changes.
Or, we might just be encouraged by what we show the world! I hope my flower beds tell people that I am not only interested in growing flowers, but that I am hard core about it!