Only if everyone in the world–or the universe–chose to conform to Mr. Maurice in thought and deed would he endorse conformity. That would, of course, be an utterly ideal state of affairs, so long as no one was so foolish as to believe they were actually becoming “like” Mr. Maurice in any conceivable way.
What about young folks with multiple earrings, piercings both seen and unseen, tattoos in growing number–like millions of others roaming today’s streets and, frankly, sitting in today’s office suites. How different are they from the gray-flannel suits of conformist 1950s America, Maurice wonders. Or from the ripped jeans and tie-dyes that emerged during the counterculture era of the 1960s and 1970s–not to mention the long hair and beards that became a virtual badge of belief in those days. Or even from the crew cuts that marked obedient young men in an earlier time.
Isn’t it better if each of us stands back and says, “I’m going to be myself,” whatever that entails. That’s how Maurice counsels each member of his pig family, after all. Want a tattoo? Crave a tongue piercing? Then get one–but only if it truly pleases you, not your peers. Why should we care what they think? If they’re only accepting us because we look and act like them, what’s the point of having them as friends?
To illustrate, Mr. Maurice calls attention to the popular book and film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Especially in the novel, the story starts slowly, almost boring. But as soon as Lisbeth arrives on the scene, as one of the least-conformist characters in recent fiction, the pace intensifies and she–piercings, sullenness and all–leaps into the story as the focal point. Why? Because despite appearance, she is good at what she does. Really good. Isn’t that all that should matter?
If your personal peers look like tattered derelicts most of the time, but you’re most comfortable in a suit and tie, don’t even think about going their way. Buy the suit, and wear it proudly. Similarly, if your peer groups resembles the sedate Ivy Leaguers of a half-century ago, but you’re a whiskery, bedraggled sort yourself, no real friend would expect you to change to suit the group.
For women, Maurice’s recommendation differs not a whit. If your lady friends wear jeans and boots but you’re pleased by short skirts and heels, or by shaded sheer stockings and sandals, go your own way. Pay no attention to their opinions. Do what’s most satisfying to you, Maurice advises, and you’ll never regret it in the end.
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