Precede Your Reputation How to change a public perception.

Precede Your Reputation How to change a public perception.

Issue 35

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Arts & Culture

  • Words Ben Shattuck
  • Photograph Aaron Tilley
  • Styling Sandy Suffield

A reputation is an identity that can seem like a fair assessment because it’s formed by consensus—an overall agreement on your qualities, decided by your community. It’s a democratic perception; you are reliable, or always late, honest, sweet, quick to judge, gossipy or trustworthy. Monarchs’ reputations—for brutality or fairness, say—were sometimes carried over to their nicknames: Bloody Mary, Ivan the Terrible, William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, The Sun King, Ethelred the Unready. It makes you wonder what your title would be.

When you have a good reputation, it can sweep before you like a cresting sunrise, lighting your path toward a bright future, shedding warmth on people and places ahead. But what happens if your reputation doesn’t match how you feel insid...

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