Of all the people I have interviewed over the years, the quirkiest of them has to be none other than…Björk.
The Icelandic singer is eclectic, eccentric, avant-garde, weird, wonky, and absolutely one of a kind.
Her unique soprano voice certainly sets her apart, as do her “out of this world” outfits. You might even remember that sultry swan dress she wore to the Academy Awards in 2001.
Then there’s her music: imaginative, innovative, and experimental.
“As a musician, I can’t control how the world perceives me, but I remember times back in the ‘90s when people thought all I did was sing songs about clubbing,” she told me.
“So when they listened to Post, they were surprised. That album has pop beats, but it also has experimental and introspective nuances, like in the ‘Cover Me’. I have always fought hard to be a female artist who could make a sad song, a humorous song, a sexy song, a bossy-bitch song, a vulnerable song—and show that I could access all of that.”
In our conversation, it kept occurring to me how likable she was. She was engaging, fun, smart, and very authentic.
Björk has made an iconic career of her quirkiness, but I think that all of us have something unique about us that makes us endearing and special.
Here are six uncommon quirks—which can be either eccentricities or unique physical traits—that make people extremely likable.
1) They have two different eye colors
We tend to think of quirks as a personality or character trait, but they can also be physical in nature.
Back when I was taking a journalism course in my twenties, there was one young lady who I paired up with for an assignment.
The first thing I noticed about her were her eyes.
Both her eyes were entirely different colors from each other.
One eye had a hazel brown hue, while the other eye was an intense blue. They were fascinating to look at and I couldn’t help but stare.
“It’s okay,” she said. grinning. “I’m used to it.”
I could see that her eyes—combined with her easy-going demeanor—made her instantly likable.
I remember her saying that her eyes were always a conversation starter so, although she was teased about them by her classmates as a child, she had learned to see the physical quirk as a gift.
2) They twirl their hair, then twirl it some more
Since we’re talking about “school days,” back when I was in the eighth grade, I remember having a crush on a boy whose family had just moved to Canada from Australia.
Part of it was of course his accent. Part of it was his big brown eyes and part of it were his dimples.
Even the way he spelled his name—Geoffrey with a “G”—was completely cool.
But what made me fall hook, line, and sinker for him, was the way he twirled one lock of this brown hair.
He did it out of nervousness whenever he was called on by the teacher. He did it whenever someone approached him as well. He even did it when he saw me stealing glances at him over my notebook.
I realize now that the reason I found his twirling of the hair so endearing was because it made him vulnerable and my heart went out to him.
Being in a new school, new city, country, and continent, certainly couldn’t have been easy.
3) Disheveled hair? They don’t care
Rock stars are pretty much worshiped for their rebellious ways.
This includes the way they look and dress. Think of people like Jim Morrison, David Bowie, and Lenny Kravitz.
“While a clean-cut, styled appearance may indicate meticulousness and order, a messy hair look can suggest the opposite, or sometimes, paradoxically, a carefree and a passionate soul,” says the team at eNotAlone.
The staff notes a research study from the University in Texas in 2018. The study found that people tend to make instant judgements about a person based on their hairstyle, even before they engage in conversation.
“The ‘man with messy hair,’ [for example], was often perceived as more rebellious, artistic, and independent.”
All of which happen to be very attractive qualities, making them instantly likable.
4) They sport a scar like it’s a badge of honor
Facial scars can make men more attractive to the opposite sex, says Ian Sample, a science correspondent for The Guardian.
“They give Action Man a certain ruggedness and bestow instant testosterone on movie heroes…Men with mild facial scars were typically ranked as more appealing by women who were looking for a brief relationship.”
Robert Burriss, the Liverpool psychologist who led the study, says: “A large scar is unlikely to make you more attractive, but there are some scars that women do seem to find appealing. There’s the whole James Bond thing, where a person is attractive but probably not marriage material.”
5) They’re a bit eerie about ears (their own as well as other people’s)
I have to admit that I tend to tug at my ear when I’m not being straightforward with someone about something. It’s usually to get out of something I don’t want to do, or it’s my way of trying to figure out what to say in an awkward situation.
I’ll either put a hand over my throat or I’ll tug at my ear. I think it’s most likely a subconscious way of “protecting” myself or trying to self-soothe.
Former United States President Ronald Reagan also had a thing with ears.
Reagan was the first major celeb (he was a Hollywood actor) to become an elected politician and then even the president.
“He has a certain charisma that really struck a chord with a large portion of the American people, securing himself a second term and remaining fairly popular throughout that time,” says Gregory Myers from ListVerse.
“Also a bit of a joker, he was a very affectionate man with his friends and family.”
Reagan’s friends and family knew him as a warm-hearted man who really had a thing for earlobes, says Myers.
“He grabbed the ears of immediate family members, friends, and even actors (during the Screen Actors Guild negotiations while he was president of that group).”
Why did he have that quirk?
“Reagan had just grown up to feel natural showing affection and closeness to others by grabbing a bit of their ears.”
6) They have a habit of humming (and not even know they’re doing it)
Gotta put my hand up on this one too.
Ask any member of my family or a friend of mine, and they will tell you that I hum all the livelong day.
The thing is I honestly don’t know that I’m doing this, like, 90% of the time.
I remember once I had taken my dad to see his eye specialist and I was sitting in the waiting room while he had his appointment.
A young man would periodically turn and look at me. I didn’t think anything of it as I was semi-distracted typing into my phone (these were the days of the Blackberry, if I remember correctly).
After a while, he turned to me and quipped: “Are you a singer or something?”
I stared at him, startled.
“You keep humming,” he clarified. “I can’t figure out the tune.”
I’m sure I turned red. I told him I had no idea I was doing it.
More awkward than that scenario, I remember being in the elevator at the university I went to. I was on my way up to select my courses for the next semester.
One person in the elevator turned to me and said: “Oh, we have some elevator music.”
Ummm, what? I didn’t hear anything.
When they saw that I didn’t catch on, they said: “You’re humming.”
I can’t even count the number of times my humming has embarrassed me. Probably hundreds.
At the same time, anyone who has commented on it has been amused rather than annoyed, so I like to assume it’s a likable quirk.
A quirky quality leaves a lasting impression…
A quirky trait is subjective, says Gary Percival.
Generally, it refers to someone who is unique and different from the norm.
“They may have unusual habits, interests, or personality traits that set them apart from other people.”
Percival says that while being quirky can sometimes be challenging, that it can also be a source of strength.
“In my opinion, being quirky is one of the best things you can be,” he says. “It means you’re not afraid to be yourself, and that’s a powerful thing.”
“When you’re quirky, you stand out from the crowd, and that can make you more successful in life. People will remember you because you’re not like everyone else.”
Instead of trying to hide or change them, we should embrace them because they make us more genuine.
“This authenticity is attractive to others and can help us build better relationships, both personally and professionally,” says Percival.
I think that being quirky makes you memorable. It gives a lasting impression.
After all, I still remember that Australian boy who always twirled his hair.