Let me write you a scenario.
You go to your local grocery store on Saturday morning. You find it is extremely busy. You walk up and down the aisles to find food to eat for the week. You grab the standards – cereal, chips, juice, etc. As you walk down the dairy aisle, you see a woman. That woman looks to be 35 years old, and she's wearing a crop top, high waisted ripped shorts, and hot pink Crocs. Her hair is purple and her nails are neon green. She's also talking on an indestructible, 15-year-old Nokia phone.
What is your first thought?
"What person leaves the house like that?"
"Who talks on a phone like that? She must be out of date."
"What 30-year-old has the indecency of wearing such an immodest outfit?"
Yes, this person I described looks a little out of place for the grocery store. But here's what I didn't say about her:
The crop top and high waisted shorts are the only clothes not in the laundry. She had been working 60 hours a week for two weeks and hasn't had enough energy to do her laundry. She's tired. She wore her crocs because her feet hurt from running around the office all week. Her hair is purple because her niece struggles from severe depression, and she wanted to support her. Her nails are neon green because she wanted to make her kids laugh, despite never seeing them because she works. Her Nokia phone? Oh, she carries that around when she misses her mom. The last voicemail she got from her was on that phone, and she gets to hear the words, "I love you more than life," another time.
This woman I described has a backstory that very few people know about. No stranger can understand why she looks like that. She just wants to get her groceries and go home. Her appearance may not say that, but that's the truth. People easily say, "She doesn't look normal."
Why are we so quick to judge?
It's because it's much easier. It's much easier to say, "That's a weird thing to do." It's much easier than figuring out why someone dresses the way they do. It's much easier to point the finger and say, "What you do is weird," and walk away.
Judgment is part of human nature. We can't always control our immediate thoughts about someone. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't have a first impression of someone. If someone is smoking drugs outside a movie theater, then your conscience telling you to stay clear of the area is probably a good, reasonable judgment. However, that judgment can go south. That initial thought, "stay clear for your own protection," can turn into, "that guy is garbage because he smokes drugs."
What you perceive to be the truth is usually far from it.
Use your judgment wisely. Use your initial reaction to make a safety call, but don't talk nasty about someone you've just met or hardly know based on how they look or what they do. I'm no saint when it comes to judging people, but I've learned throughout the years that you should never judge a person by their cover.