Archaeology and the Female Perspective – Appearances

I colour my hair, I admit it.

I have been blessed with genes that seem to deny the outward signs of aging (except for the grey hair that isn’t grey).

I prefer to look at the glass half full and I like pay forward a smile or a kind word everyday.

You’d think these would be a good things.

The above symptoms, however, seem to camouflage the fact that I’ve been to hell and back (a couple of times), and that I’ve learned an awful lot in the trek(s). People are genuinely shocked when I tell them of my experiences in consulting archaeology (and hence refer them to the novel on your right).

The kicker is that I don’t look the part. And I’m not talking about toting around a whip, revolver, and some relic under my arm. I don’t look weathered, beaten, or spent. To the outside eye, archaeologists are supposed to look like they’ve been through the ringer…..and fought the entire way. They’re supposed to look like Indy Jones. Well, maybe the men are. And maybe the women are supposed to be tall, have long, dark hair, big breasts, and wear tight clothing. I don’t bear the slightest resemblance to Lara Croft or Dr. Sydney Fox — I’m a short female with blonde ringlets and a peachy complexion. I like wearing jeans and sneakers, I don’t own a motorbike (or a car), don’t know how to use a sword (effectively), and, while I have been really tempted to beat someone to a pulp, I haven’t yet had the pleasure.

Am I an affront to archaeologists? Nope. In reality, the ones I’ve met all look pretty good. Good skin, lots (usually lots and lots) of nice hair, and a tendency towards fitness and health. It’s the hard labour and outdoor living, even if we do tend to drink a lot.

Is this merely a Hollywood versus reality thing, or is there more going on? I propose that this has to do with mistaking youth for inexperience and with mistaking education for intelligence.

A misleading appearance, of course, only adds to the frustration that no one believes that an archaeologist knows more than just archaeology, or what is thought of as archaeology (you know, whip, revolver, and everything). We have to know about soils, geology, vegetation, erosion, glaciation, budgeting, compliance, business administration, auditing, safety protocols, standards of practice, driving big trucks and ATVs, bush survival, and so much more. And just to put a feminine swing on this all, I also know that riding a quad or argo in a thong is a no-no; don’t bother trying to shave your legs in the summer (too many bruises, bug bites, thorns, and assorted other injuries); and being on the pill really has nothing to do with sex.

We also tend to know a thing or two about project management. But what would an archaeologist know about project management?? Arguably, I would say the same thing an engineer knows 🙂 This is where a piece of framed paper on a wall or a line on a resume doesn’t lend itself to demonstrating the vast amount and exceptionally accelerated on-the-job training acquired by consulting archaeologists. Perhaps this can be broadened to many disciplines.

Is our tendency to believe what we see getting any of us anywhere? Is it an adaptive trait? Is it evolutionarily, even culturally advantageous? Isn’t this were the old adage “Don’t just a book by its cover” comes in?

My cover hasn’t worn they way people expect. In fact, I’ve coloured it in a bit to bring out the highlights. I haven’t Photoshopped it, taped it, or otherwise manipulated it. Actually, I’d like to think that, in looking at my cover, what you see is what you get.

You’d think it would be a good thing to be able to come out of hell (a couple of times), shake off the dirt, and smile. But people don’t believe you’ve been to hell unless they can see it in your face. They don’t believe you can be wise and experienced before 40. I see the reverse. If you can go through hell and come out smiling, either you’re mad or you’ve managed to see the crap for what it is and let it go.

Which do you think is under the curls and peachy complexion???

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