“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
My housemate is about to dye her hair purple but is worried that it won’t suit her because “only interesting people have purple hair”. This is the same housemate who told me that I should get dreadlocks because they would “suit my personality”. When I asked my mum what my next post should be about, she said I should write about how older people judge the younger generation based on how they look – which implies that we’re looked down on, but I personally don’t feel that way at all – but perhaps that’s because I look relatively “normal”. That said, when I did experiment with pink hair and head-to-toe “goth” attire, I didn’t feel particularly judged, and looking back, I think if people were judging me it was more likely to be people my own age. Generally speaking I think people should look however they want to look without fear of “what it will say about them”, but I also think it’s true that how someone looks can say things about their personalities – unfortunately, things which aren’t always positive or true.
That said, I think that there is a generational gap when it comes to some aspects of fashion. Tattoos, for example, are unlikely to shock anyone my age. You either have them or you don’t, it’s all the same to me, but when it comes to potential employers, it’s a different story. More often than not, tattoos have to be covered up for work – fair enough if they’re offensive (but apparently people can be offended by the sheer fact that it’s a tattoo). I would even go as far as to say that having a tattoo could prevent someone from getting a job, even if they’re qualified and otherwise perfect for the position. I don’t know how likely that is (I don’t have any tattoos and have never been in that situation) but my general impression is that tattoos are considered negative.
I watched a programme a while ago about this sort of thing – some guy with tattoos all over his face was complaining about people judging him and I can’t help but not feel much sympathy. Of course people are going to judge you and instantly assume you made poor life choices if you have ink all over your face. I thought, “he should have known he wouldn’t be able to get a job if he got those tattoos, but he did it anyway, that was irresponsible, so he’s probably an irresponsible person, which is why he can’t get a job”. But I suppose it’s not really that simple. Why shouldn’t he have them? The only reason it was an irresponsible decision is because people would judge him – but why should they? Once again, fair enough if the tattoos themselves were offensive, because that really would say something about your personality, but liking or having tattoos isn’t wrong and doesn’t make you any less capable of doing a job or being a good person.
The same goes for having coloured hair, although probably to a lesser extent because it’s not permanent. Still, having unnaturally coloured hair shows that you’re an interesting person – but it’s likely you’d be made to dye over it for school or work. Never mind your qualifications, experience or individuality, if you’ve got blue hair you must be a drug-taking, reckless, immature punk!
It’s not just about body mods. There isn’t really any way of avoiding these kinds of assumptions. Even if you’re the most normal looking person in the world, you can be judged on your hair colour, what shoes you’re wearing, just about anything – especially by people your own age, but there are generational differences (not only negative ones – nothing makes me happier than seeing an old lady with bright pink hair). I think most people judge others to some extent but for the most part it doesn’t matter. I could be wrong, but I doubt many people really, genuinely think about and care what strangers think for a split second and then instantly forget. I also don’t think that negative impressions are the ones that last – people are much more likely to remember seeing something (a haircut, someone’s clothes, a tattoo or piercing) that they really liked. The opinions that matter are the ones of people who know you and of course, your own.