How do I not look like a nazi?
January 8, 2019 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Hyperbole aside, after seeing the recent image of the Trump press conference where he was flanked by four bald white guys, I've realized I kinda look like a type of person I really don't like.

Here are a couple of pictures of me.

Here's the rundown:
1. Due to genetics, I can grow just enough hair to look like a really bad comb-over. So absent a wig, bald is where I'm stuck.
a. I can grow a really full beard. But then I just look like some kind of Nazi Claus.
2. That's my lack of fashion sense - I've kind of been comfortable with it since the 90s. Lacking someone else to dress me in the morning, that's not going to change.
3. I live in the southwest U.S., where it would be easy to mistake me for Generic White Racist.
4. I'm pretty introverted and normally have a pretty bad resting bitch face, so I kinda always look like I'm a bit pissed off about something.
5. I'm also usually wearing a ballcap because I'm kinda blindish and it keeps me from scraping up my head on stuff I didn't see.

For what it's worth, I'm very left leaning, anti-Trump, and have always had a very diverse group of friends and romantic partners. My concern is how I come off to strangers I meet and interact with. I'm happy to make racists/fascists uncomfortable, but I'd rather not be one more guy that a marginalized person has to instinctively be wary of.

Given that I'm probably not going to be able to change my fashion in a major way or hairstyle/beard, is there anything I can do to make it clear that I'm not a threat to people of any race, gender, sexual identity, or other? I'm not looking for any kind of reassurance that I don't come off looking like a white supremacist - let's assume I do and figure out how to minimize that. I'm open to (and welcome) any suggestions: accessories, mannerisms, hats, etc.
posted by BenevolentActor to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (57 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In appropriate settings, since you're wearing a ballcap anyway, I suggest a whimsical (NOT RED) one like a WeRateDogs one saying "tell your dog I said hi."
posted by praemunire at 1:08 PM on January 8, 2019 [23 favorites]

There are a lot of bald white guys out there. I can think of maybe 5 I know in person and I really don't know many people in general! You need at least one, probably multiple, other cues before starting to wonder if one of them might be a Nazi (and I know you said you didn't want to hear it, but I super don't get that vibe from your pictures, the beard in particular is out of place for that kind of person, and so is the clothing style).

Pretty sure if you avoid military-style clothing (mostly combat boots), don't have a Trump-supporting bumper sticker, and avoid harassing non-white people, it's not even going to cross anyone's mind ever.
posted by randomnity at 1:09 PM on January 8, 2019 [62 favorites]

i'm a 40something dude in western virginia and i wear the y'all means all hat from the human rights campaign around town.

adding some pins to a backpack/coat or wearing more pink would also easily separate you from the trumpian masses.
posted by noloveforned at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2019 [26 favorites]

I don't get why you think you look like a Nazi. With all due respect, you look like a normal bald white guy. You wouldn't raise any red flags to me that would be any different than any other white dude.
posted by cakelite at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2019 [55 favorites]

You're often wearing a ballcap. Why not invest in a bunch of them that help signal your non-skinheadiness? ACLU hats, etc. There are probably vaguely-lefty brands (Patagonia, Subaru) you could wear in 'professional' contexts if you don't want to walk around being too publicly political at all times.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:11 PM on January 8, 2019 [20 favorites]

Simple rainbow bracelet?
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:12 PM on January 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

You're fine, dude. As long as you're not wearing paramilitary gear and glaring at everyone, I personally wouldn't think twice about your bald head. Yeah, cops and nazis frequently rock that look, but so to tons of perfectly nice people like yourself. Nobody owns baldness.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:13 PM on January 8, 2019 [22 favorites]

Also, if you smile as much in real life as you do in those pictures (and personally I think you have a very nice, warm smile) it's going to put a lot of folks at their ease right away. A warm, genuine smile is very disarming.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:15 PM on January 8, 2019 [91 favorites]

There's something about your eyes and smile that immediately makes me think, "soft".

Not great if you want to be recruited as a member of a violent gang.

Perfect if you want to avoid being mistaken for a Nazi.
posted by clawsoon at 1:18 PM on January 8, 2019 [20 favorites]

Fellow bald (though fully bearded) white guy here.

I assume that my "Fuck Racists, Punch Nazis [richard spencer getting socked image]" t shirt and pink "I believe Dr Christine Blasey Ford" pin reasonably-well project my non-nazi-ness/disagreement with the current political regime.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:20 PM on January 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

Unless the color balance on those pictures/my monitor is wonky, a thing that's already working in your favor is the amount of purple in your shirts.

In men's clothing, colors that aren't Businesswear Blue or Trump Red make the overall effect softer, less conservative, less aggressively masculine, and maybe — depending on other stuff like mannerisms — less hetero. (Your call how you feel about that last one.) So continuing to lean into colored shirts, and maybe more varied plaids, will probably help with the effect you want.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:20 PM on January 8, 2019 [17 favorites]

Trump’s four bald guys were all wearing normal suits. There’s no specific uniforms for bigots, even if some groups of assholes have a particular style.

As other above have pointed out, by all means avoid the obvious neo-fascist shibboleths like the red trucker hats, combat boots and military surplus gear, but you’re fine, my dude. Just don’t act like a Nazi and nobody will think you are one.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:22 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

What everyone said about hats/bags whatever with stuff written on them indicating leftwinginess is good.

For something subtle, and people should check me on this because my eye isn't the best, but I looked at the picture and thought that yeah, you do look kind of 'like that', but it's subtle because your look is pretty close to beardy bald men who don't look 'like that' to me, and I think I identified what I was reacting to. Is it practical, grooming-wise, to broaden your beard up toward your ears to include a little more coverage on your jawline? Not all the way to a completely unshaped mess, but just not the tightish oval around your mouth and chin that you have now. I'm not dead sure, but I think that neatly trimmed oval, with the rest of your look, makes me read you as right-wing, and I don't know why.

I could also just wrong about that -- get someone else to confirm it before you go changing things.
posted by LizardBreath at 1:22 PM on January 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Goatees can (imo rightfully) be seen as sort of a vestige of 90s fashions, and many of the articles you'd find online in a cursory google search show Chuck Todd and Seb Gorka as modern examples of goats gone wrong. Chuck Todd's politics are probably not totally reprehensible (his role in normalizing reprehensibility notwithstanding) but id hate to ever have anyone compare my appearance with Dr* Gorka.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Get an earring.
posted by spilon at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2019 [10 favorites]

I have a cousin, ex-FBI, who looks a lot like you. Contrary to what one might think of a former G-man, he is SUPER woke and actively concerned about the threats to our democracy from the extreme right.

He softens his image by (like you) growing a reasonable beard, wearing flannel shirts (often over a T-shirt) and being friendly to people. He's generally clean-but-scruffy. Nazis tend to fetishize control over their personal appearance (think of the white shirts and chinos at Charlottesville). Scruffy on purpose= non-Nazi.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:25 PM on January 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Why not get some different glasses (unless you have a really tricky prescription)? Try a couple of inexpensive more colorful or fashionable pairs from Zenni Optical. Also, while a rainbow bracelet is an obvious signifier, I think any old jewelry (unless it's ultra macho giant chains) will work - a couple of leather cord braided bracelets in colors, for instance, or a simple chain with some kind of interesting pendant.

While I don't think you look "like a nazi", I certainly appreciate the desire to differentiate yourself. I myself just want a haircut that fits me that hasn't been coopted by neo-nazis.
posted by Frowner at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I so do not get a "Nazi" vibe from your picture. It looks more like David Harbour shaved his head for a role.

You have absolutely nothing to worry about whatsoever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think you are doing well already with your general demeanor and purple shirts. As a precaution I would say avoid wearing camo unless you are out hunting.

Also, seconding: Scruffy on purpose= non-Nazi. When you are not scruffy (like wearing a suit) you are already doing the right thing by wearing purple! Yay!
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:28 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was thinking the exact same thing as nebulawindphone about the purple. I do have an actual screen filter running though, so I disabled it and saw your shirts then looked more blue. But if they are blue but you think you can swing it where you live, give it a try - you do look great in purple!

Also agreed with the comments above in your smile, which is warm and welcoming.
posted by trig at 1:31 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I realize I'm not the most important demographic for this (late-twenties white woman), but FWIW: if your question is how to play up or adjust other visual markers to set yourself apart from racist skinheads, I honestly think what you're wearing in your photos is fine.

When it does occur to me to wonder if a bald white dude of *those* Bald White Dudes, I almost involuntarily check a host of other "metrics": footwear, any tattoos he may have, outerwear, jewelry, how his facial hair (if any) is groomed...(In my corner of Europe there's a particular sort of knit cap that seems popular with this crowd, but I also see it on non-racist anarchist types so YMMV.) It's hard to describe, but after being exposed to a fair number of these jagweeds both in the US and Europe, I really think there is an overall aesthetic that they do consciously aim for, as well as an overall demeanor, that is hard to re-create by accident. (Body language can play a big role too: are you making appropriate eye contact? Keeping a safe/normal distance whilst walking behind or going around folks? Basically, do you seem like a respectful, calm human being who's not on a bizarre private vendetta against everyone who's not inside your weird Aryan-WASP Venn diagram?*)

While unfortunately your 'do or lack thereof might inevitably prompt the sort of once-over I described, I don't think based on your photos alone you're in serious danger of being mistaken for an actual neo-Nazi in most situations.

*This is NOT to imply that any configuration of dress, grooming, or good manners precludes someone being a racist mulch bag. Just that these are some of the most immediate outward markers of the sort of violent white supremacist who might also signal that attitude by shaving his head.

**The beanie/anarchist comment no doubt exposes my profound ignorance of various political and artistic subcultures, for which I apologize in advance.

Sweet glasses, btw!
posted by TinyChicken at 1:32 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

In men's clothing, colors that aren't Businesswear Blue or Trump Red make the overall effect softer, less conservative, less aggressively masculine, and maybe — depending on other stuff like mannerisms — less hetero.

A pink Oxford, if you need a business shirt, would be helpful. My boss has exactly your bald/greying goatee/glasses combo and I've noted his comfort with pink shirts as a significant "softener."
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:32 PM on January 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

oh yeah, missed that you wear glasses in a later photo... plastic frames will set you apart.

black is the easiest way to go but i've gotten to the point where i wear these white plastic frames just about every day and get tons of compliments. i also have some pale blue or olive green ones that i wore until i got the white pair.
posted by noloveforned at 1:38 PM on January 8, 2019

*Grow your facial hair so it's less of a goatee and more of a beard. Doesn't necessarily have to be longer, just a little scruffier and less controlled.
*Soft clothing, like soft flannels, cardigans, etc.
*Whimsical and/or colorful accessories, including glasses.
*Relatively "feminine" or unisex accessories, like earrings.
*Lefty or humane or sweet slogans on hats or T-shirts or buttons, etc.
*Just being kind and friendly in demeanor.

That said, I don't think you look like a Nazi. As a white guy of course people are going to assess how likely you are to be one. But you're a bit scruffy and have a warm expression, and I think that goes a long way.
posted by rue72 at 1:41 PM on January 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

As a fellow white dude with not much hair, I wear my work ID on a lanyard that I keep loaded with enamel pins: a Hilary "H," the Scouts For Equality rainbow knot, a coffee pot, a pink cancer ribbon, a Canadian red maple leaf, some Disney characters....broadly speaking, just "Nice Dad, Not A Nazi" signals, which is important on a college campus. After work -- well, then I rely on t-shirts and baseball hats with friendly messages. (Winter is therefor a challenge, I will grant you.)

But you're a friendly-looking guy, and I wouldn't sweat it *too* much if I was you.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:43 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

As a white woman who works with the public, I don't think you should worry. I can't speak to the race issue, but I can tell you that I don't really identify problem men by their dress or appearance. Introverted is great, actually - it's the men who won't shut up, and read as a bit "off," that make me wary.

(And of course it goes without saying that "woke" men harass women too - so while I'm always happy to see people who belong to my political tribe, nothing that a man wears is going to automatically make me trust him.)
posted by toastedcheese at 1:47 PM on January 8, 2019 [9 favorites]

"if you smile as much in real life as you do in those pictures (and personally I think you have a very nice, warm smile) it's going to put a lot of folks at their ease right away"

I read this comment before I clicked through to the picture, so maybe I was influenced subconsciously, but yeah, the impression I get from you is "he seems really friendly". I'm a white guy, so probably not in the best position to judge how you're perceived by people of color, but to me, your look is amiable professor. Or, for that matter, benevolent actor!

Keep up the friendly body language, and the rest should take care of itself.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:49 PM on January 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

As a brown-Muslim-mother-to-Black-son person, thank you for your heartwarming concern with regard to the optics you present. You have such a warm smile!

That said, I'm about as marginalized as they get, and I really have zero 'white supremacist' vibe coming from you (I must add here that my radar for MAGA types has been pretty accurate since November 2016.)

As others have suggested, there are the various labeled accoutrements of liberalism that you can display on your person - pins, hats, tees, buttons, jewelry - that would immediately disavow anyone of the notion that you're a white supremacist, should they be so inclined. As someone mentioned above, it's hard to pinpoinr, but there really is an overall image that signals the unsavory types you describe - you definitely don't project that!
posted by Everydayville at 1:59 PM on January 8, 2019 [17 favorites]

As others have mentioned, I wouldn't worry about fashion. People that have the look you are worried about cultivate it very consciously.

However, I do think it could be effective to examine if there are ways you can subtly improve how you are unconsciously acting that can help communicate this message. Things like spatial awareness, as guys tend to expect everyone else to jump out of their path and generally walk into rooms as if they are in charge. Likewise active listening, especially with women and minorities and ensuring they get their fair share of the conversation, and generally doing work to be a good ally.
posted by veery at 2:02 PM on January 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

Nthing the jewelry suggestions above, something like this bracelet, maybe? Or any other similar one, it doesn't have to be those colors even. Eric Ripert wears his Buddha bracelets and whenever I see a guy wearing stuff like that, I automatically think sort of a gentle hippie vibe.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:10 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you have a dog you should wear a shirt with a picture of your dog on it.
posted by cellphone at 2:13 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I actually tend to look on people's backpacks on the subway to see if they have pins with a DSA symbol or "Bernie" or "ITMFA" or whatever on them. So if you carry a backpack, maybe think about festooning it with a bunch of lefty-symbol pins.

(I'll also mention that I have a friend who's a reasonably prominent Marxist; he's also a bald white guy without a beard and I can promise you no one has ever taken him for a Trumper of any stripe. Honestly, I don't think many people seeing you are reflexively going to associate "bald white guy with a beard" with "neo-Nazi," especially because, well, according to your photos, you simply don't look like one. Truly. It honestly wouldn't cross my mind that you might be an alt-right type, no matter what you were wearing. Just a data point.)
posted by holborne at 2:20 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

FWIW, your smile, goatee, and body language prevent you from looking like a nazi. You look friendly and relaxed, not like you're itching to reveal your concealed carry or white power tattoos or pick a fight. I'm kind of high alert/defensive much of the time in certain places, and you wouldn't send my alarm bells off.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:28 PM on January 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Your beard says left-leaning college professor to me. I agree with growing it longer if you want to, but I think it is working in your favor here.
posted by soelo at 2:29 PM on January 8, 2019

Agree with college professor; my other first flash-impression was museum docent. A crossbody bag may accentuate your hip, intelligent vibe.
posted by lakeroon at 3:08 PM on January 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah you look like my buddy who is a super left-wing pastor type person so . . I do not get any Trumpalo vibe from your photos.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Agree with Medieval Maven - you look more like my left-wing pastor/activist acquaintances than a nazi. If you just want to change something about your wardrobe/appearance you can, but you don't really need to.
posted by bunderful at 3:37 PM on January 8, 2019

Some things my (blond, German descent) husband has done with his wardrobe:

- If jeans, slim/hipster cut. Black only, is his feeling. Blue seems okay on you, but I see my husband's point that it's easy to tip over into kinda looking like your truck's maybe got some worrisome bumper stickers on it.
- No more t-shirts. You look like you're already doing the soft color button-downs, keep that up. My husband has gone full Novelty Sock now too, and I am noticing this trend in my male peers lately, the socks, as a tiny rebellion against toxic masculinity. His specialty is food socks, another friend likes 80s culture themes, and I know one guy whose sock wardrobe is entirely cat socks of all kinds.
- Tailored coat and blazers, you look like you're doing that too (his heavy coat is a classic black wool), never zip-jackets or outdoorswear. Cardigans or slightly hipstery slim-fit pullover sweaters.
- The only hoodie he wears outside the house is the one I got him at Hamilton, and there's probably some other pop culture that is unambiguously not-right that you could wear but just be real careful.
- Messenger bag, not at all military-like or backpacky. A couple pins are good, and they don't have to be bold statements, it's enough that they not be hypermasc statements. Put a glittery unicorn pin on your bag.
- If you wear glasses, consider going even more hipstery than your initial inclination might be (also? big glasses = bigger field of vision, embrace it). Also consider frames that are a color and/or tortoiseshell/marbled.
- He wears and pulls off wool Kangol hats, I know not everybody does but it looks suitably professorial on him. I have a friend who's a professor (astrophysics type) who wears brimmed hats that are not too, uh, fedora-y, like a porkpie or this kind of rolled-brim fedora or a summer boater, and on him they work, even with jeans and a basic shirt. These days, I go out of my way to put distance between myself and any man in a ballcap unless it screams "no no, I'm okay" like for Planned Parenthood or something. You might take a friend or two with a good eye to a store with lots of hats and spend some time on this.

I can't quite describe it, but there's definitely facial hair looks that seem to trend to one side or the other, and yours to me reads fine, and I think as long as you keep it tidy you're okay there.

You may have to work on your RBF, and the other thing I notice about men that worry/scare me in public is that they don't care about anybody else's use of shared space. They don't move aside on the sidewalk, they take up entire store aisles, they're not tracking the movement of other people around them the way the rest of us have to. Look more alert, and be more alert, because those guys are walking microaggressions and you may have to spend more time being the guy who hangs back for a second to make sure that an interaction between a store clerk and - for example - a black man is going okay, or that you may need to make your physical presence/disapproval better known when the white guy with the shit-eating grin makes the grocery checker run his card instead of doing it himself because he likes making people service him. These guys do look around for support when they're being shits, make sure you're pointedly not giving it when they do.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:46 PM on January 8, 2019 [9 favorites]

Thoughtfully chosen hats will do a lot. And definitely no camo ever. These two things are significant signals for me, anyway.
posted by Verba Volant at 3:54 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wow, thanks everyone - I didn't expect so many great responses. Good to know I don't seem to mostly come off like I thought. And I really appreciate all of the tips.

It sounds like I have a few good things I can do:
1. Not worry so much.
2. Widen out my beard and get a full face stubble look.
3. Pick up more hats that make my views a lot more obvious.
4. Stick with the purples and other soft colors for shirts.
5. Pick up pins and badges for my backpack/duffel/laptop bag.

I'll think about a bracelet - it would give me something to fidget with anyway.

As for personal space and awareness - there's not always a lot I can do about that due to eyesight (although I try obviously correct when I do notice). I just have to get in the habit of keeping my cane with me so people realize I'm blindish, not just rude.

(Regarding what loveandhappiness said - yeah, I have to apologize for that. I was thinking of the rural area I grew up where everyone I knew with a certain generic look was racist, and painting with way too broad a brush. Definitely something for me to think on.)
posted by BenevolentActor at 4:16 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have you considered socks with Tevas? That's pretty much a "friend of liberals" give away. I agree with your other listed items of things you can do as well.
posted by Toddles at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just in case one more voice is helpful, you basically look like about half of the bartenders at the nearest brewery, and more than a few guys in my office. To me, you don't give off any bad vibes in your photo at all.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:39 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

you do not look like a nazi, you look like a computer programmer. that is not meant as an insult. but it's not reassurance, just a fact: you really don't look like a nazi. just don't let the beard overextend itself. it is not an alarming beard as it stands.

I avoid all strange men in baseball caps and there is nothing any given strange man could do with his personal presentation to change that. any effort would only make it worse. but it wouldn't make me afraid of you. and it's not threatening the way sports jerseys on men, particularly men in groups, are. it's fine.

don't expect to communicate anything through cap-slogans, though. setting aside my personal feelings about hats and words on hats, anybody who's seriously nervous about you isn't going to try and read your hat because they'd risk meeting your eyes, so any hat-messages would be just for you.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:50 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Something as simple as an HRC logo lapel pin or, more explicitly, one of these should send the right kind of ally-signal in jacket-wearing situations. Maybe instead of a baseball-style hats, try one of the less-nautical flavors of fisherman's cap, for a bit of a socialist poet vibe? Stay away from white polo shirts with khakis and you're good.
posted by mumkin at 5:56 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Try a hemp bag or a mala bracelet. Maybe a pair of Sanuk shoes (or Birks) when the weather is nice.
posted by nanook at 6:09 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Softer colors usually signal to me someone who is more open minded. Purples, greens, yellows, soft orange; these suggest to me basically the opposite of militant. Concert fees, fees with silly logos or sayings also suggest someone who doesn't take themself too seriously.
posted by vignettist at 6:16 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you look like a philosophy prof. Avoid red trucker hats and keep smiling warmly like that, and you're fine.

Also, while an intentionally chosen pin or sticker is fine, getting a whole bunch with every progressive/liberal cause kind of seems like dilettantism, trying too hard, or a "Collect Them All!" approach. Don't use them just as generic lefty signifiers; pick one or two from causes that mean a lot to you, and actually do something for the cause beyond wearing the pin.
posted by basalganglia at 6:57 PM on January 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

Nthing... you look extremely genteel.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:10 PM on January 8, 2019

I have one of these and it's great. I don't even mind having it on my nicer, work coat. (Yeah, I'm super edgy.)

Since everyone else is disregarding the request not to reassure you about your appearance, let me join the crowd in saying that you do have a very warm and appealing smile and not obviously threatening body language. You can do a lot with that.
posted by praemunire at 11:11 PM on January 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

I like the man-bag idea! Or carry around an interesting book. I definitely judge people on planes and in waiting rooms by their reading material. Use it to signal who you are.
The only thing that gives me douche vibes is that goatee you're rocking. Maybe I'm just that far beyond fashion these days, but when I grew up 99 percent of goatees were sleazy or at least redneck. But not Nazi. Not sure if that's a Nazi signifier now?

But that picture of you doesn't seem skinhead at all. More like cute dad-style or yes, prof or teacher. I know lots of lovely bald-headed guys and none of them are racist.

Good luck! Listening interestedly to the ideas here.
posted by liminal_shadows at 12:45 AM on January 9, 2019

You look sweet and not at all like a Nazi.

I think context is everything. As long as you don't stand near Trump you won't be misjudged.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 3:27 AM on January 9, 2019

Would you be open to a different type of hat? A fedora or pork pie might read "hipster," but at least that's clearly not "white supremacist." And there are many other types of men's hats besides fedoras. (And FWIW I don't think you look like a white supremacist with your current look either, but I'm a cis white male so my read may not be the best.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:05 AM on January 9, 2019

Would you be open to a different type of hat? A fedora or pork pie might read "hipster," but at least that's clearly not "white supremacist."

I'd be careful with the fedora, as it has gotten an unfortunate reputation after its promotion by pick-up artists a few years back.
posted by clawsoon at 4:20 AM on January 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't see a problem. You're a swell looking guy. You do not look like a nazi.
posted by james33 at 5:38 AM on January 9, 2019

I was thinking about this overnight and it occurred to me: when you do this, recognize that you're doing it as much for yourself as anyone else. You don't want to look like something you associate with nazi-ism, because it makes you uncomfortable.

I think that's legit - I used to have the shaved sides haircut that was so fashionable and became the nazi haircut and my clothes were more neo-preppy than they are now. Because I'm a gender-ambiguous person who, whether read as male, female or nonbinary is always read as queer, it was extremely unlikely that anyone would literally think me a nazi. Similarly, I think that when people are pointing out that you don't look nazi-ish they're pointing to something fairly true.

I made some changes to my hair and clothes since 2016 - not big ones, and it's true that my clothes would have changed anyway because I'm kind of trendy. But I didn't feel at all good looking at some very masc hipster proud boys and thinking that we had fashion in common. I just didn't like it for its own sake because it didn't reflect who I was and it seemed to auger ill.

The thing is, we truly cannot tell by looking. Obviously there are visible MAGA-hat nazis out there, but I follow some twitters which identify fascist activists, and half the photos they post don't look that different from anyone else. It's not that they look particularly conservative, even - a lot of them are young or young-ish, vaguely fashionable or vaguely countercultural looking people. I would not suspect them if I sat next to them on the bus, at least not based on appearance.

I think the big lesson for white people (or for anyone whose circumstances have protected them from negative interactions - anyone who didn't have to know this already) is that you cannot intrinsically trust anyone who is in a position of structural power. To trust people, you have to see how they behave or else have references.

So basically, it's reasonable to want to change your appearance, both because it has some effect on how you're perceived and because it makes you feel more at home in the world, but it's really your behavior that is going to win the day.
posted by Frowner at 7:09 AM on January 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

I think a couple of mala bracelets would be a great signifier. Perfect to fidget with. However, people might think you're Buddhist, so there's that.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:03 AM on January 9, 2019

OK, 40yo straight white lady from the rust belt here. I find your look super-cute and benign (I mean that as an endorsement in this case.) You remind me of my husband and various middle-aged white-man friends with good politics and kind hearts. You've already taken the picture down, but a couple of mild friendliness signifiers for me are the untucked plaid shirt, a non-major-sports-team hat (obviously a non-MAGA hat, but could have quirky art or the Toledo Mudhens [I'm sure lots of racists like the mudhens, like I said, these are the mildest signifiers] or a lefty phrase), a bike-messenger brand of bag (e.g. Timbuk2, Manhattan Portage, probably other more current ones). Shoes are hard, but non-leather sneakers (Tigers or Saucony) or Allbirds (though $$$) are a good sign.

N=1, though, and I realize that a lot of this might just be picturing things dudes I know wear.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2019

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