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Coworker Furious With Her Work Friend With Face Blindness For Not Recognizing Her After Changing Hair, And The Internet Has Feelings

I whip my hair back and forth!!

A new weave is like a new car and you want to show it off with gusto and pride; and primarily because we as humans don't know how not to fish for a compliment. But a new hairstyle can be daring and cost some serious change so a little positive acknowledgement can go along way, that's why when someone doesn't notice it can be like a knife in the soul. However, there are worse reactions to have, like someone not recognizing you at all! Redditor woah-there-satan is on the receiving of some vitriol from her newly quaffed co-worker and needed to vent... follow along below.

Me [26F] with my co worker/ friend [28F] of 4 years, has taken offense because i didn't recognize her after a hairstyle change


I'm on phone and double spacing never works sorry. If ever someone changes their hair it's a 98% chance I won't recognize them or become accustomed to their new hair for a few months, I don't know why I'm like this and it's so frustrating, I also constantly mix up similar looking people with the same hair color all the time it's so frustrating

I've worked with co worker Laura for years and she's always had long natural blonde hair, I would literally describe her as average weight average height genetic mid 20,s girl... we've always got along great.

Now Laura can definitely have her moody days but she's generally great to work with. The other day I came in to work and there's this girl with a reddish brown bob, she waves and says hi and I just blankly say hi back, there's a few moments of silence while she just looks at me, then it slowly and I mean slow as hell dawns on me that I know this person, I've already turned away to the managers office to ask if this is the new girl as we were currently hiring.

When Laura asks from behind me, how's little Rosie any better? I turn round and I'm just completely confused, Rosie is my daughter, I look again and it finally hits me, her voice is very generic, not recognizable, but I blurted out, LAURA?

She said, what?! I think she was literally alarmed, I explained I didn't recognize her because of her hair, and for some reason she took it really bad and said, Jesus Christ if you don't like it just say there's no reason to play stupid I'm not an idiot.

I tried again to explain that i really struggle to tell people apart and it's a huge problem when we hire a few teenager girls or boys at the same time as they all look identical to me until I see them for months on end and even then if they change hair it's like a reset button.

Laura's been cold with me ever since and the work atmosphere just feels wrong, wtf can i do if she won't believe me? I think there's something wrong with me and it only gets worse with age.

Whose got some advice?

Sometimes it's a disease...

Prosopagnosia/face blindness is a real thing. Maybe read up on it and try to explain it to you co-worker again? She probably thinks it's personal (that you can't recognize HER) when in fact you couldn't really recognize anyone if they changed their look drastically.

savaaq

Jesus it's actually a thing ! Can you be formally diagnosed?

woah-there-satan

Sorry? You are?

Giphy

It's because you have known them for so long that you stop paying attention to visual cues. You'd probably do better at describing a new friend or co-worker than your mom or sister.

A lot of people who have lost someone feel really bad about it, like they're "forgetting" the person. But the truth is, if you saw a photo you would immediately recognize it. You're not forgetting. Memory just isn't a camera hitting record. Your brain prioritizes what to focus on. You probably hyper-focused on your mom's face when you were an infant, but it's been a looooong time, and your brain is NOT prioritizing it.

Also knowing someone a long time who has aged or changed their appearance, your mind's eye doesn't automatically update their "profile picture" to their most recent appearance. It's an amalgamation of all the ways you've thought of them, which turns into something kind of fuzzy and vague.

sweadle

Follow the breadcrumbs...

My husband has face blindness and it sounds like him in your post. He uses "clues" like you to recognize people, including hair color and style, body shape, clothing style. When we watch movies, he can't recognize actors he knows if they have drastically changed their hair (e.g. A woman with long flowing hair suddenly has it tied back in a tight bun, he will take time to realize it's the same woman).

Maybe you could also practice quickly analyzing people for these other nom-face "clues" to their identity so you can practice recognizing people without relying only on face/hair.

Funnily enough I can't visualize things consciously and the images I do get are rare (every few months) and I don't normally form sentences in advance of speaking them. I can, but it takes a huge amount of effort. What happens more often than not is I'll be talking and get an impression that the next part of the sentence isn't ready so I'll slow down or stop talking, but it's not like I'm running through a list of words looking for the right one. It's more like I'm waiting for the words to untangle themselves and get out of my throat.

black_rabbit

Follow the shoes...

Giphy

This. I can't do faces, but I'm pretty accurate at identifying friends by how they walk. With co-workers, I tend to use their shoes to identify them.

ThunderRoads

I don't suffer from face blindness, but I do have terrible eyesight and while I was a teenager I chose to wear my glasses vey rarely. I could never see people's faces.

The way people move has always been what I use to help identify them. Now that I wear my glasses I'll still use it as my first thing to identify someone. So that might help you out too.

AnorhiDemarche

Can y'all where nametags?

Giphy

OMG, this is me - though maybe not quite as extreme as OP. Watching 'Downton Abbey', they have like umpteen white women with dark hair in buns or whatever. How the hell am I supposed to tell them apart? And in Avengers 2, this guy shows up with a beard midway through - turns out he's Captain America without his suit or shield.

sowellfan

Regarding your coworker, you should inform her as such. Don't know why she'd be upset about it to begin with. I would think she would laugh it off or maybe even be flattered?

qualityKnight

What are your exact symptoms? Here's mine...

I've had facial recognition issues my whole life. Mine aren't as serious as some people I've heard about, but it sure is annoying. Here are some of my issues, maybe you do some of the same things?

  • rely heavily on hairstyles, glasses, height, and clothes to identify people
  • have a hard time recognizing people out of their usual context (e.g. your co-worker in a grocery store)
  • avoid saying "hi" first to anyone because no one looks familiar
  • have a hard time recognizing close friends/family after a minor appearance change (clearly you have this problem)
  • have a hard time following movies if the characters look too similar to each other
  • think all young women with long brown hair and Ray-Bans are the same person (for some reason I have a particularly hard time with these folks)

I have had so many moments like the one you had with your coworker. I once lost my roommate in a store because she got new glasses and I couldn't recognize her. Another time I was very confused and suspicious of the strange man in my backyard, before I realized it was my own father and he had shaved his mustache. And once, in college, I ran into a girl in a dining hall who knew me, and had brunch with her for an hour while having no idea who she was. We had a pleasant conversation, and she never realized I didn't recognize her.

For your coworker, I think it might help to really emphasize the extent of your problem. Go to her and specifically apologize for not recognizing her the other day, and explain again that this is a reoccurring problem you have. She's your friend and it hurt her feelings a little to think that you don't bother to remember what she looks like beyond "chick with long blonde hair." Tell her an embarrassing story of another time you didn't recognize someone you should have. Maybe tell her the word "prosopagnosia," it sounds much more legit than "bad with faces," and she can Google it later. And tell her you like her new hair! It sounds like maybe she mistook the blank expression on your face as trying to hide your disgust for her new hairstyle.

Eulers_Constant

Giphy

That's a good perspective on the coworker. She had probably already mentally rehearsed getting compliments on her drastic hairstyle change, and when the conversation didn't go that way she freaked out.

Not trying to excuse it, but if u/woah-there-satan wants to be the one to reach out to coworker, I'd include a bit about how she must've felt hurt by the unexpected reaction (don't say 'odd'!) and that you didn't mean to rain on her new haircut parade. Emphasize that the person looked good, you just didn't recognize her as the same person you work with everyday!

Hopefully her response will be much more gracious than her initial reaction.

JerseyKeebs

Laugh it off... we are! 

What the hell is wrong with her. That's hilarious. Not your problem she's looking through her insecurities to read into it.

OldSpiceSmellsNice

Takes me a little while too; not nearly as bad as you thank goodness. Had no idea there was a word for this. best of wishes to you. We should meet some day, and then change our faces... and meet again. 50 first dates.

ellensundies

Time to sage away the bad vibes...

Giphy

Very difficult situation. I wonder if she could explain why this offended her. To me, offense is something determined by intent in this case, and you had absolutely zero negative intent in this case. When we are at work we focus on work, and any traits we have can be amplified, like your trait of face recognition. But either way you didn't do anything offensive, so this has been caused by her inability to interpret the situation correctly as much as, or even more than, your not recognizing her.

Having said all that you work with her and don't want a bad atmosphere. You sound like a kind person so at first I would try calmly telling her you had no intention to offend her and are sorry you have. But explain you also can't understand why this offended her at all.

If she doesn't respond positively to this and the atmosphere remains bad then perhaps you could suggest you both talk it through with your line manager as someone who can take a third perspective and offer counsel.

I wish you luck with this as it's horrible to work in a tense atmosphere. But with calmness, kindness and clarity I'm sure you will resolve this.

w_________r

My daughter has face blindness related to her autism (I swear I do too. I'm terrible with faces and names). We have flash cards of her teachers and classmates to help her recognize people. If they change something, we have to start over. It definitely is a thing.

HSspeducator

It's you girl not me! 

She's projecting her fears, which are that people won't like how she's changed her hair.

SmartOxymoron

Why so Serious?!

Giphy

Even if no one revealed the name of your condition here in these replies, I as your coworker or friend would have reacted normally and not make a big deal about it. Most people actually might think it's funny that you don't recognize them after a big hair job or make-up job, etc, and then you both laugh about it when you realize who they are.

kevin_r13

You have facial blindness. I have a friend with this who recognizes people by their hair, gait, glasses and got super-confused in a movie because they hired a hair person who did all the actresses hair alike. Something I only noticed after he confused characters. Maybe that's why he loves Game of Thrones - there are dramatic height, costume, and accent differences because of the sheer number of characters.

heroicintent

Trick or Treat...

Giphy

I wore a long curly purple wig for halloween a couple years ago. I posted the picture of me on my facebook and I can't tell you how many of my own family asked me who the person was with the purple hair. She needs to get over herself and realize that such a drastic change is bound to confuse some people at first.

throwaway789663

Do you have any idea who I am?

Lol, people never recognize me when I have my hair out. People have literally walked up to me at work and asked me if I have seen (My name).

Chuckitinbro

Heh. I remember running into a friend of mine who had shaved his beard for the first time since I'd met him. He calls to me, and I take a good long look at him, thinking he's another friend of mine with the same height and build.

"Wow, without the beard, you look just like Johnson."

"I am Johnson."

Another time, my girlfriend at the time did her hair and makeup to look just like Tammy Fay Baker. It was uncanny. All the way to the halloween party, it's freaking me out because I hear my girlfriend, but I see Tammy Fay Baker.

We get to the party, and she spends half an hour chatting with the host. He says "Oh, you work at Oracle? Do you know Alice Smith?" and she says "Howard, I am Alice Smith."

On the flip side: I went to one of those stupid "men's retreats" once, and one of the things we had to do was to shave our beards. One guy, who'd been married over a decade, had a wife who had never in her life seen him without a beard. When they met up again, he was "notice anything different?" and it took her a few minutes to realize he'd shaved. After that, no woman is allowed to get mad at me because I didn't notice she got a haircut.

capilot

Don't worry be happy!! 

Giphy

I can recognize faces easily but not always remember where I know them from as easily but change hairstyle and it's like a stranger.

However, your friend's insecurity about her new style is the problem here, not you. If she won't accept your explanation then relax. Don't worry about it.

CyanBlackCyan

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