Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Is It All About Looks?

    Looks don't matter.  We've all heard that since we were children.  And it's true.  And it's not true.  We absolutely shouldn't judge based on appearance, but like it or not, that's exactly what happens, because how you look is a visual representation of how you feel about yourself and your life.  A lot of people are going to (even unintentionally) pass judgement based only on that.  We have senses to tell us about our world and sight is one of them.   While I do believe in dressing appropriately for the situation (for example the workplace is no place of a mini skirt and leave the plunging neckline at home if you're heading to church) I don't believe in dressing to please others, especially the gazillion strangers you'll meet in your lifetime.  We can only control  the message we put out there, not how others interprets it. 
         No matter how hard you try, someone at sometime in this very sensitive day and age is going to get offended over something.  (I once bent over to grab my toddler as she ran down an aisle at a theater and as I did so my t shirt fell forward and exposed some cleavage.  I had no idea it happened, but there was a woman there who knew me and was so shocked by this brief flashing that she felt she had to warn me about dressing more modestly.  How absurd!  I took her advice for what it was worth--nothing.)  Ultimately it is most important to dress in a way that pleases the one person whose opinion and comfort matters most: you.  That is what I do and there is peace in it.
    Recently I made a new acquaintance.  She confided that she had seen me around and didn't like me.  I was speechless.  We'd never spoken before, we're not in the same groups, I'd never snubbed her.   What possible reason could she have for not liking me?  I asked and she said that I "just seemed stuck-up."  Really?  Based on her seeing me walking down the street while she drove past in her car?   Yeah, that was it.  She had driven by as I was walking down the street a few times and made her decision based on my appearance alone.  She decided that because I looked nice, I would probably be judgmental of someone like her who dresses the part of the tired and stressed out mom-- old t shirts and torn up jeans that don't fit properly.   She decided that that's who I was and she would therefore hate me before I had a chance to hate her. 
    As someone who's been that tired stressed out mom, I'm more prone to sympathy over criticism.  I've been through my own struggles and gained a lot of confidence in myself along the way.  Here's the funny thing about confidence:  when you have it, you don't really think about others so much.  Judging others is for people who are frightened of being judged themselves.  I like who I am.  I love my life and I feel like how I dress is just a reflection of that.  I don't really care what other people wear if they're happy.  I may have seen her and thought, "oh the toddler days, I remember them well,"  but I certainly wouldn't have thought she was a bad mom or a bad person.
    There's a saying I heard decades ago and though I've tried to find it again, my search has not yielded anything.  The saying went like this  "What do you hate?  By this you will truly be known for it is surely what you will become."  As an astute observer, I've seen this saying ring true more often than not.  The nagging wife who exclaims she just cannot stand when women nag their husbands.  That person on Facebook who never has anything positive to say  but complains about all the negativity on the internet.  The man who is so overprotective of his child so she won't be bullied, but ruthlessly bullies his wife and neighbors.
    I wondered in the hours following my new acquaintances admission if she saw the hypocrisy in her prejudice.  I wonder if she saw the way her own fear and insecurities had kept her from something as wonderful as friendship with someone (even better, friendship with someone unlike oneself).  I believe very strongly in living life deliberately, so of course in my ruminating I must also look at my own life and my own hang ups see where I am limiting myself.

*These gorgeous photos are the work of the talented artist Yvette Inufio.  Find her work at www.yvetteinufio.etsy.com

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