Bubbleheads and Brainiacs: When looks are deceiving

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I have a friend who’s really bright, and I’m not just talking book-bright. I’m talking bright enough to go off on her own, and run a successful business. I’m talking about someone who can take something that’s in its very embryonic stage, develop it, vision it, and bring it to reality.

She’s creative, witty, business savvy, and wears bikinis. Ahhh… bikinis, those itsy bitsy things we call clothes. She’s got the body for them, and wears them well, but those bikinis, a thing for heels and short skirts, and a love for partying often get her dubbed as a bubblehead by people who know nothing much of her, save for a few sightings of Facebook photos.

She doesn’t even have to open her mouth. Even before she gets to attempt to justify their opinion with her actions, the easiest diss for them to buss is “you’re a bubblehead”, because well a pretty woman, who happens to dress a little sexy at times, can’t be that bright, right? You can’t reference beauty and brains, without hearing about the dumb blonde cliché, but what does the Trini equivalent of a dumb blonde, minus the blonde hair, look like?

Labels. They’re easy to use. Even the most open-minded of us do it subconsciously. A giggly girl isn’t to be taken seriously, and genius wears glasses and is all suited up, as opposed to wearing a buss-up jeans.

We judge people based on how they talk, what they wear, or where they lime in a snap second. I experienced this firsthand the other day, when a friend’s brother heard a BBM voice note I had sent her, and wanted to know who was that ghetto girl talking. He didn’t know that this ‘ghetto girl’ has a master’s degree (distinction), or could take the green out of any verb. Granted, I really do take frequent pleasure in talking some really ‘bad English’, but see how easy it was for him to make an assumption?


“An intelligent woman doesn’t look a certain way.”

Some seriously intelligent people get pigeonholed by the way they speak or look. Take Nikki Crosby, well-known comedienne, actress and radio personality, for example. Let’s compare her to a businesswoman like Catherine Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Now Nikki is a businesswoman in her own right, and while we’d gravitate to her more for her comedy and warm personality, we wouldn’t stop to say, “Hey, yuh know Nikki Crosby is a real smart woman”. The typical reaction would be to afford more esteem to Kumar, based on a purely subconscious reaction influenced by visual cues.

An intelligent woman doesn’t look a certain way – contrary to what people may think. Some of you may say, “we never thought there’s a look for intelligence”, but think about it. Although, you may not have made a list of what ‘bright’ looks like, you may see a girl, and based on her dress or behaviour, and your five minutes of observing this, throw her to the proverbial dogs. It’s the same way, you might look at a girl and think to yourself, “she looks like a ho”, simply because her dress may be overly sexy or ‘tasteless’. You can’t scientifically determine what a ‘loose’ person looks like, with a textbook description to back you up, but, in your opinion, you know it when you see it.

Men also don’t come with a certain look that defines their mental abilities. However, a man in a two-piece suit wearing Armani glasses, who looks oh so suave, with his briefcase or portfolio in hand, may get more pips than a guy in coveralls, with a Jansport bag on his back. Similarly, some people may watch a popular deejay, see him in all the clubs, and smirk at him, formulating opinions from little or no knowledge of the person. Take Hypa Hoppa, for example. Some people love him; some just don’t. Me? I respect the man’s business acumen. I don’t know him personally, and I’m far from a party lover. However, I give kudos to him for building businesses out of the things he loves, and doing so successfully. So, really, what is he? Dumb deejay, who likes to party, and flaunt his six-pack, or smart businessman, who likes to party, and flaunt his six-pack?


“People are multidimensional.”

Like my friend who gets judged because of her bikinis, men deal with stereotyping too. Do we blame this on social conditioning or pin it down to the need to feel better than someone else? It’s not like we can’t safely discern that looks have nothing to do with intellect. People are multidimensional; whether or not you think they’re a bubblehead or brainiac. To those who’d say, well the girl I saw in the party, wearing a pum pum shorts, acting ghetto, drinking level shots, and falling all over herself can’t be too bright, I say that’s half of your Facebook friend list come Carnival season.

We live in a society where people judge you on your external appearance, and that isn’t about to change. So laugh loudly, wear what you want, and wine low, if you so please. Game recognises game, and like minds always meet each other.


Image courtesy – iStockphoto.com; 8X


Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.


  1. Observer

    October 18, 2010 at 2:45 am

    So then if she’s all those things….why talk like a ghetto girl? Nothing turns me off more quickly in a beautiful woman than the butchering of the english language. Why speak like that if you are supposedly super intelligent?

  2. friend

    October 19, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Observer: We all slip into our dialect at times especially when having light conversation with frens. Even us “intelligent” girls. And being the friend who she sent the voicenote to and whose brother made that comment, it was exactly a case of that. Sharing a light moment with a friend, overheard by someone else, judgement (innocently) passed! :)

  3. Quilin Achat


    October 19, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Why does it matter how she speaks casually when professionally she’s successful? That’s the point of the article really, why is that we continue to (immediately) judge people on inane things like: speech, clothing, skin colour- and not by what we know 1st hand about them?

  4. Lisa Allen-Agostini

    March 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    love love LOVE this. great job. and i like your new design, btw!

  5. OUTLISH Magazine

    March 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Aww. Thanks Lisa 😀

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