coming and going, from the back, part II


Bad haircuts, wobbly heels, too many bags, and my personal pet peeve—poor posture. These are the things you see if you pay attention to women walking away from you. I wrote before about why I’m taking pictures of women from the back, and I promised to write about what I’ve noticed, what stands out.

I see a lot of bad haircuts and hair in need of a cut. When you see someone from the front, their face dominates, you don’t always notice the whole hairstyle. But from the back, bad cuts pop out at you. Overly shaved napes of the neck, straggly and split ends, and fuzzy, dry fuzz-balls really show up. 

What I’ve learned is that when the stylist gives you that mirror to check out your haircut, don’t just give the back of your head a perfunctory glance. If the cut doesn’t look right when it’s fresh, it’s not going to look good growing out. Naturally there’s nothing you can do if they’ve shaved off too much but maybe you’ll learn to pay more attention to what’s going on next time…

Wobbly heels! Wobbly heels are a sure sign of cheap shoes. In short, cheap shoes are not constructed well. There’s an art to attaching a heel to the last of the shoe; if it’s not done properly, the heel will shift and result in wobble. Of course, wobbly heels can also mean a woman’s heels are just much too high for her to walk in. Wobble is not attractive.



Of course, women over a certain age are not often guilty of tottering around on super-high heels. Occasionally though, I’ll see a woman who’s walking around in wobbly high heels at 10:00 in the morning. Basically, she looks drunk…


I have this saying: “the three-bag New Yorker.” In New York City women walk around with not one, not two but three, four and sometimes more bags. I know I do. First you have your handbag, then you have your workout bag, and then maybe your shopping bag, or grocery bag or book bag. Bags galore.


What I’ve noticed is that women who have obviously taken a lot of time and care in getting dressed and their grooming, often ruin their look with all these bags hanging on them. I know that especially in big cities there’s really no way around it. The only “solution” I’ve come up with is to choose attractive bags that blend in with the rest of your outfit…

Similar to what I said about the haircut from the front, the same goes for posture. Yes, you can tell someone has poor posture when they’re walking towards you, but from the back their posture really shows. I’m not criticizing women with osteoporosis, congenital kyphosis, or that mommy hunch that women with young children temporarily get. But women with none of these can ruin how they look with sloppy posture.


So what’s good about women from the back? Besides the inverse of the things I’ve mentioned: great haircuts, great heels, and good posture? I’ve noticed two things.

Often, from the back you can really take in a women’s whole look better. Ironically perhaps, her face, her jewelry and other details don’t distract.


I suppose men have always known this but until recently I don’t think I quite understood it.


From the back you can also see expanses of beautiful fabric and good tailoring. You can see how a skirt falls and swings, and how a dress enhances the curves of a women’s figure.



And from the back you can see a woman’s walk. Is she shuffling along, just trying to get through the day? Is she happy, confident? The look from the back is just as important as the one from the front: after all, they do see you coming, and going…




  • Anita, This is a great post! Wobbly heels. Wearing heels is an art form. It is something you train for. I have no interest in training for. My latest blog post… sneakers are in! Stand tall walk with confidence.

  • Carla says:

    When I first met my now husband 23 years ago he told me: the first thing I noticed about you was your walk
    I think of that comment each time I’m tempted to just shuffle through life.

    • Anita Irlen says:


      That’s a great way to remember… I think maybe like you, I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s posture and how they walk, it can tell you so much. The way young girls stand these days kills me. I know there are reasons behind that slouch, but they’re hurting themselves not just physically but psychologically too!

  • Another wonderful post! I’m sorry I haven’t been ‘around here’ very much lately because I have certainly missed your fabulous writing! These ‘from the back’ posts are brilliant – especially this one. I will be putting more thought into all of the above from now on! Esther xx

    • Anita Irlen says:


      Thanks again. I really enjoyed writing this because it was my true, personal take on things. I’m always trying to see things in a different way, and I find it interesting how, in some ways, that is not that easy. Anita xx

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