On the occasion when I actually have the motivation to dress up, I’ll sometimes have this weird experience where people will treat me better than they do when I am paint-splattered and wearing ratty jeans and an old sweatshirt.
And I start to wonder,
Why do we judge people based on their appearance? Is what people wear on the outside really an indicator of their worth in our society?
Do we really see the homeless man busking on the street corner and observe his unshaven beard, dirty jeans and old army jacket and deem him less worthy in our society than the business man in a three-piece suit driving a Porsche?
And yet from that homeless man comes beautiful music that cheers up passers-by as they are walking along downtown.
And do we really see the teenage girl with piercings and heavy eyeliner and decide that she is less intelligent than the girl wearing a sweater and glasses?
And yet from that teenage girl comes beautiful poetry and stories that no one will hear because no one cared to find out.
I don’t want to be judged based on the clothes that I wear and how put-together my hair is that day, but I realize that I,too, judge other people based on their appearance. It's a norm that has anchored itself so deeply in our culture that at times we are not even aware of its existence.
And this prejudice runs deeper than just the fashion that we wear.
Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
We judge people based on their appearance, whether it be clothing, skin color, make-up or lack of it, or the cars they drive and whether or not they live in a house -- when what should really capture our attention is their character!
What would happen if the world stopped seeing people through a stereotypical lens, and started judging people based on their character? Would we then take the time to find out people’s character, or else, stop making judgments based off facts we don’t know?
In this time perhaps more than others, a time when appearances can be so deceiving, it is more important than ever that we judge people based on the content of their character.
We are all human underneath, no matter what boxes our appearances place us in. It’s high time we start seeing each other that way.
Perhaps, then, we would look at each other through eyes of love, instead of eyes of fear.