As Tom Ford famously said, “People will stare, make it worth their while”. Something I remind myself of on a daily basis. This may sound vain, or contrived, but I am very aware that people stare at me. In fact, I imagine I’m not alone. Surely you’ve found yourself being watched, as you go about your business. For me, I began to notice it as a teenager, and it made me feel nervous. What were they looking at? Why was I receiving this attention? In my early twenties, I became a well-known face within the media, so friends would often say that people were staring, as they recognised me. I wasn’t convinced. Travelling to Rome, New York, Paris, people still stared.
After a while, I began to feel paranoid. It took a little longer to leave the house, as I found myself checking and rechecking, to ensure that I looked “normal”. Eventually, I realised that no matter how I dress – be it a Gucci tuxedo, or simple sportswear, the eyes followed me. Some going as far as to point and tell their friends to turn and look. Yes, I’m over six-foot-tall, with a mop of blond hair, and, as it’s been noted, by certain journalists “perma-tanned”. As if having a tan – real or fake, is something to be ashamed of. I guess I stand out for my general appearance, even on the streets of cosmopolitan Marbella, but I find myself attracting more attention due to how I dress. I have never been one to stare or comment on the appearance of others. Don’t get me wrong, I look, I see, I think, “oh man, why did you wear that?” But not once have I smirked, stared or commented. Why would I? It goes back to basic kindness. In fact, over the years I’ve done the opposite, and told complete strangers they look great, when they do. So as those people continue to stare, I continue to act as if I don’t see them, but I do.
At a recent cocktail party, I was chatting with a pretty nondescript sort of chap, who suddenly burst out laughing and drew attention to my choice of shoes – red suede loafers, by the aforementioned Tom Ford. “What were you thinking? How much did you pay for those things?” he almost passed out laughing. I paused a moment, before staring him in the eyes, “two-thousand euro!” Suddenly his mood changed, as if the price tag instantly made the shoes more important than they were. I glanced at his footwear, to see scuffed, basic, square-toed black lace-ups, with plastic soles. I smiled and walked away. The following morning as I dressed for breakfast, I decided to adopt a new mantra – dress up, show up, always and all ways. If they’re going to stare, what do I care? I shall act as if I can’t see them from behind my shades. So just imagine, if you’re staring at me, I may well be staring back at you, in horror!