The Sizzle and The Steak

Here’s a question that keeps re-appearing at various points in my life.  How important is sizzle?  For those of you unfamiliar with the metaphor, my grandpa would say a person was “all sizzle and no steak” if they talked a good game but had nothing to back it up – if they  made promises and never delivered, for example. 

I would often think of this analogy in terms of friendships.  I’d rather be friends with someone who has integrity, a sense of humour, a generous heart, etc.  Considerations such as how fashionable they are, what they weigh, of if they run with the “cool” crowd just don’t matter so much to me.  

And yet, sizzle does come in there somewhere.  DH and I were friends back in highschool, and we made the transition to sweethearts sometime after that.  I just didn’t think of him in “that way” until a few things caused me to look at him in a new light.  One of those was the way he revved the engine in his car.  (Silly, I know!)  In some sense, I guess the turbo-charged Grand Am and the way he drove it did reflect a part of his personality I never knew before, and one that was certainly intriguing 😉

A church sermon recently made allusion to this.  When the priest first came to our little church, apparently there was a big row of dead trees in the front.  When the parish committee met with him to talk about the needs of the church, the first thing on his list was taking down those trees and improving the appearance of the place – planting some trees, flowers, whatever.  Now to me, what goes on in the church is more important – is it a place of love & welcome?  I would have thought of improving the image as last on my list.  

Yet the image we present to the world is the first view others have of it.  I suppose it has some importance after all.  If a place doesn’t look welcoming, you aren’t as likely to go in and find out about it – to see if there is a “steak” there you are interested in.  (apologies to any vegetarians reading this!)  If you don’t bother to wear reasonable clothes, people may not feel comfortable starting a conversation.

Perhaps I carry a stubbornness about this because of some experiences in elementary school, where being in fashion was a big thing for the “in crowd” (which did not include me).  That’s probably where I decided that the substance of a person was much more important than their appearance.  But I extended that view to people who do care about their appearance, and enjoy being fashionable and elegantly put together, to suspect that they are more likely to be shells of people, more sizzle than steak.  That is, of course, a totally unfair and unwarranted assumption!

Also, I think I need to learn more about the sizzle, and figure out how to make it work for me.  Sooner or later I’ll have to wear some make-up regularly, learn how to manage my own wardrobe, and enjoy it all.  It’s not that I’m a mess now – DH, my mom, MIL, and SIL’s usually get me lovely clothes for birthday & Christmas, so I have decent things to wear, and I like to be comfortable and feel good.  My look tends to be more jeans & sweaters or jeans & blouses – very low maintenance.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be afraid to think about branching out from there.  Working on the sizzle does not need to mean there’s less steak … right?

Of course, with our current financial situation I won’t be renovating my wardrobe anytime soon!  I did hear a great program about consignment shopping though, and I think I’ll pursue that to see where I can go with it.  It’s just that I’ve almost made it a point of pride to not follow fashion, so to think of plunging in and trying to be aware of trends – that will be different.

I’d be interested to know – where you do rate the sizzle and the steak??  How important is appearance anyway?


4 thoughts on “The Sizzle and The Steak

  1. loribeth says:

    Interesting thoughts, Andie. I think it’s a fine line. You aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, & first impressions can be very misleading. But they can make you want to take a second look.

  2. Amy says:

    Oh man, we wouldn’t just make great friends–I swear, we share the same brain. I was just thinking the other day about how telecommuting has not helped my whole college student/pseudo-boho/jeans and t-shirt look. I can’t wait to work full-time again, but it’s going to take awhile to adjust back into professional clothes.

    All these things come down to that ever-elusive balance, don’t they? And does anyone ever find it?

    (On a side note, thanks for your kind comment–I sure hope things look up for you and us soon.)

  3. Andie says:

    Amy, that is too funny! Once we are both on a better track w/ finances & housing, we will have to figure out how to visit. We’d just better establish if we’re wearing jeans or “real” clothes!!!!

  4. masha says:

    That’s interesting – the version I heard is “you cant sell the steak without the sizzle”.

    I think the trick here is to decide for yourself what the sizzle should be. For example – I dont wear makeup as – well – its just not me. But I can “sizzle” in other ways 🙂

    There really should be no problem with this if your “sizzle” is not misleading – how you look and come accross should be an extention of who you really are, not just polish on the…*insert unpleasant substance here*.

    I find it facinating how difficult it is NOT to judge someone on their appearance – and also how good one feels if you get your own sizzle right 🙂

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