Appearances Can Be Deceiving Essay
Humans tend to link beauty with goodness, often thinking that if someone is beautiful then he/she must be of good character. However, external appearances should not be the measure of good virtue. How many times have you avoided building strong relationships because the external appearance of a person did not meet your standards of “good character”? How many times have you made a conclusion that a person is not morally acceptable based on how they look? Indeed, many times how a person looks keeps us away from understanding their real character.
We are visual creatures, and many times, we believe what our eyes see. However, many times we forget that there is much more behind the reflection of our eyes. “Societal norms” have made us believe that there is this “perfect” picture of how a person of good character should look. Those norms are subjective-not incorporating the individuality and diversity of each person. We should bear in mind that our judgments many times could be wrong. When we make judgments based on looks, we are creating a limitation on our behaviors and ourselves.
Everyone has a story, experiences, and knowledge. Imagine how much we can learn from other people and expand our knowledge if it were not for judgments. Accepting the diversity of each other and keeping an open mind is a key step in breaking that limitation. No matter how much information we try to gather based on a person’s look, the true essence of their character can only be discovered through understanding and communication. Thinking that we have deciphered a person’s personality based on their appearance is very illusive.
Perhaps is an old instinct we once used to protect ourselves. However, we have to realize that we are now very complex and cognitive organisms. Relying on instincts will only make us move backwards. Furthermore, history has demonstrated that judgment based on appearances can be very dangerous. It has been the root of the modern cult of beauty, sexual objectification, racism, and war. For instance, the Nazis believed that anyone who did not have light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes, was not the “pure” race, and therefore they should be exterminated.
Similarly, Europeans used to have this idea that people with darker skin color were associated with evil and decided to enslave them. In addition, many people have developed and accepted a “law” of how beauty should look. It gave rises to our modern cults of beauty and until recently, it started the trend of sexual objectification. It is when most of the time only body parts of men or/and women are exposed, treating them as sexual objects. It is frequently used in publicity to gather other people’s attention.
Do you think it is fair to take away someone’s individuality only so other people can achieve his or her own egocentric goals? Many questions concerning this topic have an obvious answer; we should not judge a person’s character based on his or her appearance. We need to understand that sometimes appearances needs to be changed because of financial availability, a person’s own choice, culture and race, and most importantly that physical appearance is something beyond our control. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same financial availability.
Some people barely have enough food on the table. With those hardships, a person may also not have enough resources to look presentable externally. A ripped shirt, old jeans, and sloppy hair, in the eyes of many people are seen as skeptical. However, should we still judge them based on their appearance, even though they do not have the means to afford a better look? The financial availability of a person should not be a limitation for that person to demonstrate their character. They should be able to show who they are without the weight of other people’s judgments.
For instance, Law enforcement organizations and society in general, think neatness in appearance is linked to truthfulness or trustworthiness in enforcing law. They do not have the realization that a person who looks badly dressed or unshaved can be so because they cannot afford a better appearance, but that they can still be trustworthy. A few years ago in the news, a police officer came across a robbery at a store and found two individuals that were present at the time of the robbery. One individual was well dressed and very presentable, and the other had old clothes and was unshaved.
The police officer decided to let the well-dressed individual go while detaining the individual with the not so good appearance. Later, the police officer found that the well-dressed individual was the one who committed the robbery. The individual who looked sloppy was innocent. Perhaps if the police officer was not blinded by the ignorance of judging based on appearances, the real criminal would have been caught. A person with no resources is many times more humble and knowledgeable than a person who meets the criteria of “good appearance. ” Moreover, everyone is different, with different tastes and ifferent ideas. We also express those tastes and ideas in our appearance. One person may like high heels, while another only sneakers. One person may like clothes that are large on them, while another may like tight clothes. One person may like to express themselves through tattoos or piercings, while another may like having different hair colors. No matter the taste of a person, the content of their character is beyond their expression. First, there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” appearance, and therefore people are free to express their tastes in whatever ways it makes them feel better.
Their expression is only a “part” of who they are and what they are like. For example, a person with many tattoos is mostly viewed as being crazy, dangerous, and immature. However, those people found that tattoos are a way to free them, a way of expressing their desires. It is not a way of expressing their character, because it is very complex to be only defined by tattoos. Just because a person does not dress like us or does not appear like he or she should appear according to our ideal, it does not mean they are not of good character.
The ultimate fact we need to understand is that we are different. Our differences ask for different approaches of handling our appearances. The way individuals encircle the beauty of the human form, and expose their dominion of it in all its varieties, is solely to the choice of the individual. Their choice should not be the cause of malformed judgments, as we also have our own choices and express it in our own ways. Equally important is the understanding that there are different cultures, which bring different ways of expression.
In fact, there is a tribe in Asia where girls as young as five years old have to use many iron strings in their neck, in order to elongate them. In their culture the longer the neck of a woman, the more beautiful the women are regarded. It will be against everything we have been taught about accepting the diversity of other people, to judge those women because of their choice to elongate their neck. Who are we to judge another person’s culture? We do not have the power to make such judgments. In another culture’s eyes, our culture may seem ridiculous.
For example, a thumb up in the United States is seen as a positive sign, but in Greece, it is seen as a sign of disrespect towards another person. Not having judgments towards another culture and other people in general, is a sign of tolerance, and a sign of good character. On the contrary, many people believe appearances are the mirror for a person’s character. However, appearances can only give us cues about a person’s personality. For instance, a person who always walks with their shoulders crumbled is more likely sad or not so cheered up. But, does that tell you if that person will risk his or her life for another person?
Of course not; their true intentions and their true virtue is something not seen in the reflection of their appearance. If character and appearance have any connection, it is so weak that we should revise our judgments and analyze beyond appearance. We should not ignore our initial evaluations, but we should teach ourselves to treat them with initial hesitance, and learn how to better analyze them, taking into consideration all the factors that may affect appearances. Ultimately, appearances are beyond our nature. We cannot do much to change it, as we are born the way we are.
The power to change our outward look is beyond our control. People have different facial features, different body statures, and different skin colors. Should those be the cause of judgment? People are often treated as if their character is linked to their appearance, whether they deserve it or not. Beautiful people, who were born this way, tend to be treated better than others, and become more prone to have a pleasant disposition; whereas, someone who is disfigured is more prone to be treated differently, and become bitter as a result. This is the Self-fulfilling prophecy.
It explains that people are more likely to become the result of how other people view them. Our judgments have so much energy that it can disrupt and/or destroy a person’s personality. Social pressure induces people to excessively focus on the most immediate aspects of their appearance. Many times people resort to plastic surgery or implants to achieve the “social norm of good appearance. ” To illustrate, Asians used to carve their faces to look more like people with lighter skin. In addition, many young women are full of fake implants, as to look more attractive.
It’s worth asking how should we regard the character of someone who looks aesthetically beautiful, due to only plastic surgery and others’ elective enhancements? A person’s appearance changes as we get to know them. In fact, when we come to admire or love someone, they become more pleasing in appearance, and when we come to dislike someone, even if they are physically beautiful, they become displeasing. Therefore, attractiveness is not only a matter of appearance. A person, not just in appearance but in character, can be “beautiful” or “ugly”.
In someone who is aesthetically beautiful, bitterness to others may indicate a weak character, while someone who is disfigured, affability and kindness may indicate a strong character. Both character traits should cause us to treat and view the person contrary to how we might otherwise be prone, based on their raw appearance. Ultimately, we should not judge a person for not having the courage to slice and dice her or his face to conform to other’s standards of beauty, and the same applies to things like skin color and other aspects of race.
Clearly, there are many aspects of our character that are not reflected in our appearance. Before making a judgment over a person’s appearance, we should first revise our own character and understand all the factors that can make a person’s appearance different from what we think it should be. It is the only way to cultivate understanding broad-mindedness, and peace. Always keep this question in mind, should we really use appearance as a measure of how “good” another person is? Like the old quote says, “Do not judge a book by its cover. ”