What Do I Look Like I Listen To?

“So what music do you listen to?”

“Oh, mostly rock and heavy metal, some Japanese music, little bit of screamo.”


The above is a skeleton conversation on the topic of music, one I’ve had many times. Responses vary, but what never changes is the reaction. The surprise? The arched eyebrows? The slight confusion? The reassessing eye?

Apparently, I don’t look like what I listen to.

My Japanese music collection back in 2012.

I listen to an eclectic variety of music, but when people ask I usually specify rock, metal, and Japanese music because that’s what I actually listen to on a daily basis. However, as the above blanket dialogue suggests, people can’t seem to comprehend that. A girl like me doesn’t listen to heavy metal like this. A girl like me doesn’t listen to Japanese musicians with diverse vocals and visuals like this. A girl like me listens to…what? What do I look like I listen to?

I listen to music for my own sake, not for the trend or society or the world, so I’m not offended in these situations — rather, I’ve learned not to be offended. What do I look like I listen to? Lately I’ve retorted back with that question, and the answer? “I don’t know.”

Exactly. You don’t know. Your cache of stereotypes and assumptions is mostly unreliable. Obviously the more tattoos one has, the heavier the rock. Obviously the length of a girl’s skirt indicates a strong preference for EDM and pop. Obviously dreads and beards are New Age or indie. Obviously Asian men with glasses adore popular female idol singers.

It’s not just appearance but personality that plays a factor in the judging of music preferences. Quiet girls like me should like “quiet” music. Abrasive people should like “loud” music.

Not everyone I’ve talked to about music makes assumptions about my preferences, and those are the kind of people who try not to let stereotypes filter their perspectives. That’s a helluva skill to have. I too have judged people by what they listen to — more precisely, what they didn’t listen to that would have given me closure in regards to their personality, appearance, or ethnicity.

The question What do I look like I listen to? becomes What do I act like I listen to?

Go ahead and look/act like the music you listen to. Go ahead and don’t look/act like the music you listen to. Just don’t be put off or offended when others react contrary to your expectations. Know that stereotypes are at work, and try to understand that before firing off on people for assuming incorrectly about your music tastes.

In short: learn to see the quiet girls headbanging to metal in their cars and loving every damn second of that freedom music gives.


© Cat and Moth Writings
All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “What Do I Look Like I Listen To?

  1. Peg Landini

    You nailed it! I have thought about this so many times in my life. I often chose not to share this part of me,not for fear of being judged, but I didn’t want to feel like I needed to explain it to someone who would not get it. No need to do injustice to something you love!


  2. Jordan in Scotland

    Well said. What surprises me is when I see people who seem to single-handedly personify one particular niche, like the ultra goth-punk couple with the ripped black clothes / skeletons / tats / rings / mohawks, etc., that I just passed by. I always wonder about the sides of themselves that they aren’t representing, or if it’s possible to feel completely encapsulated by one theme. I could never restrict myself to one, so I never had a single group identity that I could wear in that way, though I identified with a lot of them.

    I used to be female bodied so back then I was the “quiet girl”. I performed in a college play with a male peer and when he spilled something on his pants during rehearsal he joked about taking them off if it wouldn’t be rude to me. I replied, “I’ll just take mine off, too, and then there’s no problem.” The whole cast and crew went silent with shock, while they hadn’t batted an eye at the guy’s remark. So yeah… even actors, ironically, get caught up in appearances.

    Liked by 1 person

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