It’s a topic you’ve been hearing about your whole life, and yet it’s still alive and kicking like we haven’t talked it to death. People put a lot of stock in appearances and how they define a person. But, there has been a huge push against this with the growth of our feminist and LGBT movements.
Everyone has an opinion on this topic. This is because they each have at least one story about how appearances and judgments have hurt or helped them. Or its affected someone they know in the regular ebb and flow of life. As much as we try to avoid it or ignore it, how you present yourself (and how you see others present themselves) has an impact on our communities.
Judging What You See
It’s easy to pass judgment on someone due to their disheveled hair or dirty nails, but we put more stock in those observations when we don’t know someone. What we see with a stranger is literally all we have to go off of, until we take a chance to speak to them. But our first impressions may prevent us from doing just that.
Whether it’s due to social constraints or personal safety, these cautious choices are still judgments of appearance.
We see it with political campaigns and celebrities, too. Because of the way someone is dressed or perceived, you may be more likely to interact with them, believing that they have admirable qualities because of that appearance. Often our interpretation of subliminal signs is correct, but this doesn’t justify our accepting them without further exploration.
Why Fit a Mold?
We are continually urged to “be ourselves”, yet any slight differences from the mainstream can have vast consequences. In the United States, where dental care is so important, anyone with slightly crooked teeth might suffer in social or career situations because of their smile.
So instead, they may seek to conquer the system. They’ll suffer through braces for the sake of fitting in–but it’s also an opportunity to beat the system. By conforming completely, they can master the system and use it to their advantage.
These characteristics honed over time, mainstream or not, can affect your success and your self-confidence. When its over–you’ve got the charisma, the suit, and the job–are you being the person you want to be?
It can be difficult to be true to yourself while pursuing leadership roles if you don’t have that ideal leadership persona. The key is to learn the necessary leadership skills without rewriting who you are as a person. Your unique self is an important piece of how you move forward and interact with the world.
Let those new qualities function as tools that your personality wields rather than hiding who you are. Think of it this way: you may be held to a certain dress standard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your own spin on it.
Rewriting the Narrative
For now, it’s about that balance between satisfying the world’s expectations in small ways while exposing them to the wonderful, unique people who don’t conform. We can’t do our part in persuading the world to accept if we don’t practice the same acceptance for others.
In reality, humanity won’t stop making judgments on appearance; they influence what we eat, the media we consume, and how we protect ourselves in precarious situations. But we can seek to make non-invasive judgments that recognize and accept the differences in others rather than condemning them