I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I have been told, “You look like the guy from the Hangover movies.” They are of course talking about Zach Galifianakis. The over 40 crowd will say, “You look like Grizzly Adams.” The connecting factors between the three of us are simple, shaggy/longer hair, a full beard, and we are all handsome. Other than these things, we really don’t have much in common.
There is a common belief people of a different race look very similar (or people of the same race sometimes), but it really isn’t so. The reason people think they do is because the focus on similarities. Grizzly Adams, the guy from Hangover, and myself all have beards, not short hair, and similar skin tones, but these things really aren’t the sum of us physically, but they are the most prominent features we have and it is what catches people’s eyes. To other people, we look alike because people are fixated on our similarities, although I am sure neither of them have ever been told, “Hey, you look like Shawn Fisher from Canada.”
When identifying people, looking at hair, eye colour, and skin colour doesn’t paint a full picture of a person though. It is just a matter of taking all their features into account to remember people and not confuse them with others. How tall are they? Do they have short legs and a long body, or vice versa. Are their hands big, or small? Fat fingers, or slim? Are their faces oval, round, long, or short? Is their forehead high, or their hairline low? How is their nose shaped, and what about their mouths? Look at the eyes, wrinkles, spots, dots, scars, and moles. Their eyebrows may be bushy, manicured, gone, or only one. We take all of these factors into account with people of our own race, and we don’t even have to think about it, because we are used to our own skin colours, hair colours, or eye colours. It may take a little extra focus, but anyone can do it.