Keeping Up Appearances

I’ve been reading many articles/posts suddenly about how appearance is deceptive, and how one should not be labelled based on appearance, especially when it comes to women.

The problem with this problem is that going by appearances is something that is practically ingrained in each one of us. Whether we like it or not, we judge at a glance, and the judgement is based on the lens through which we see our world.

I had an interesting discussion sometime back with my niece. She was really upset about the fact that people are so quick to judge by appearance. Though I completely agree that appearance should not the sole factor in judging or interacting with a person (I know through personal experience :D), I had to question placing the entire onus on the person who begins the interaction. For example, if I was with a person who didn’t make eye contact, didn’t offer any interaction, and mumbled when it came to answering questions, what would I conclude? Would it not be fair to conclude that this person was not interested, for some reason, in furthering the interaction? After all, interaction is a reinforcing feedback loop. What incentive would I have to continue the interaction? Should I still pursue it in the hope of “discovering” what a brilliant, amiable person lies behind the indifferent facade? Would it not be doing an injustice to me to declare that I judge on appearance?

True, the above example is not strictly based on appearance, as in clothing. But the analogy can be extended to appearance in several aspects. Appearance is, after all, the first step towards interactions.

So, nowadays I do not get upset when I am ignored or overlooked. I understand that part of the problem is the way I project myself, the way I try to make myself invisible. So when I do that, I can hardly blame the other parties for looking through me, and not making the effort to find out what a fantastic person I am! 😀

The only way I can think of to circumvent this is to actually be conscious all the time, which is kind of tough, I guess. To be aware of the kind of decisions we take requires a stepping back, an objective disassociation, which we are not all capable of. To discuss about it, to strive towards it is indeed a worthy objective.

The other way is to educate our kids also. Sometimes, Lil D comes back with certain remarks that people make, such as All boys are naughty, or All girls are very good. I always make it a point to discuss with her that these are generalizations, that the statements are not always true (I give her examples where she can see for herself that it is not true), and she should always take such statements with a pinch of salt.

All in all, judging by appearances is so wrong, yet it takes tremendous effort to break that habit. But unless we make that effort consciously, I guess we will continue to have such endless discussions, going back and forth. That too has its place in the overall scheme of things.

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