We pass by each other, glancing up and down, taking stock of outfits, exposed skin, tattoos, hair color, and piercings. Our immediate perception and opinion of someone is formed in mere seconds, all based on how they look. We wonder about their life. What they do for work, their personality, and relationship status. We form our conclusion and that becomes our basis for any interaction or lack thereof. So many people could impact our lives, but these opinions cloud opportunities and potentially prevent relationships from forming.
Picture this: The blue tint of curls shines in the sun, the beautiful flower tattoo runs up her arm. We scoff, roll our eyes and shuffle just a little bit further over, thinking perhaps her creativity and uniqueness might just rub off on us, fearful because being a little bit different would mean being judged and exposed. She raises her arm to brush her hair out of her face, her belly showing just a bit. We shake our heads in disgust. How could she dress like that? And her hair!
Does she even have a job?
I bet she doesn’t have a car.
She probably still lives at home with her parents.
Our judgments come quick and relentless. Our conclusion of this poor woman happening seconds after seeing her. Then we hear her speak of her students, the fondness in her voice apparent. She loves her job, her true calling and passion seeping through with each word. We take another second and glance at her. Our cheeks heat as she smiles warmly at us, unaware of our thoughts. Quickly, we realize we passed judgment unfairly, all because of how she looked. Anything out of the ordinary, unique, or different becomes an immediate thought of lack of education, poor judgment, and immaturity.
Truth is, these people are our doctors, educators, businessmen, and women. They serve our children lunches, bag our groceries, and run companies that may someday cure cancer. The fear that once existed to showcase our true personalities are slowly diminishing for some; others still hide behind lab coats and long t-shirts, fearful of what their image might portray.
It’s time that the days of judgment based on looks are forgotten. Our initial perceptions should not be clouded by what we see but by the interactions and experiences that allow individuals to show us who they are. To speak of their love of their job, to say a kind word, or conduct an act of kindness.
We will encounter rude, arrogant, and immature behavior, but at the core, these behaviors have nothing to do with image. The tattoos, piercings, or hair color did not make them this way. Perhaps their exposure to negativity did (wouldn’t that be ironic). So, to combat this vicious cycle, we must fight against our own bias and realize that we are all unique beings, opting to showcase this creativity in various forms. Some journal, others take to the kitchen and cook, while others radiate towards body art and funky hair. At the end of the day, we are all human just longing for acceptance. We need to give each other a chance because at the root of all of us is the innate desire to be kind. Unfortunately, we have been programmed to fear anything that is different. So instead of giving judging looks and moving away from the blue-haired girl, give her a smile because at the end of the day, you really don’t want to judge a book by its cover.