There is an undertone in this world, that we – as humans – visual creatures at that, are supposed to be able to overlook the outward appearance of others and make room in our hearts to be able to see a person’s inner beauty. This ‘new age,’ or ‘love everyone’ message is quite clear. When our children come home talking about the smelly kid in class, or the overweight teacher who wears clothing several sizes too small, our immediate reaction is to chastise them. And caution them to ‘be nice.’
Still. The reality is that we do judge and make judgments about people based on what they look like. No matter how accepting and non-judgmental and cool, and unbiased you claim to be – your eyes are the first thing to take mental notes of your surroundings. And when you see a man or woman, especially one that could be otherwise attractive, trudging around with unkempt greasy hair, 65 pounds overweight munching a snickers bar, wearing clothes that have stains or a pair of shoes that doesn’t match, your mind is automatically making an assumption. You may even wonder if they took five minutes to take notice of the way they looked before they left the house. Its one thing to walk to your mailbox in your bathrobe with your boobs hanging out. It’s another altogether to go out to dinner, or walk into your child’s school looking that way.
Unless you have lived in a hole for the last 2 years, – you have likely seen the People of Wal-Mart videos. Ironically, Wal-mart one of the easiest places to purchase a mirror for a low price, is also filled with hoards of people that appear as if they have never looked in one. From crazy get-ups that don’t match and scream for all the wrong sorts of attention, to people that wear decent clothing that is not appropriate from their bodies, Wal-Mart epitomizes the reasons to take a quick mirror check before you leave your house.
And, even though its funny to silently make fun of the outfits that people CHOOSE to wear, the reality is that what we wear on the outside of ourselves speaks volumes about who we are on the inside.
The stay at home mom who leaves home wearing day old clothes, with slept in make-up, sans the bra, and pajama shorts – comes across as someone who is tired and who has lost interest in herself. The young male walking around with his boxers hanging out, barely able to take a step without pulling up his britches, gives off the impression of being a thug. The guy that shows up for an interview in a wrinkled suit, tennis shoes and a Coors Light logo peeking through his dress shirt gives off an air that he doesn’t take things very seriously. Say it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover if you will. But even so, the vast majority of folks do cast a judgment (or an opinion if that is a more comfortable word for some) of another person by the way they present themselves in public. The stinky kid in class, regardless of WHY he is stinky, is someone that your children as honest creatures will shy away from as much as possible, even though his problems are parental rather than personal.
Mirrors are around for a reason. It’s difficult to navigate through this world without encountering at least a mirror or two (or 10) in your daily travels. And while being egotistically aware of looks, and basing your entire world around the appearances of all things is not an ideal way to live either, there has to be some sort of balance. Especially when it comes to yourself.
What Not to Wear, the hit TLC show featuring Stacy and Clinton, is living proof that anyone, of any shape or size, can easily accentuate their bodies. Additionally, massive amounts of research tell us that when we look good, and take time to care for ourselves, even aesthetically, we feel better about ourselves. And this self given confidence boost can do wonders for how others feel about us as well. Essentially, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Everyone is prone to those moments in life when they aren’t in the mood or lack the energy to put 100% into their appearance. No big deal. You drive your kids to school in your pajamas, knowing that you won’t be exiting your car. Or you have the flu and go pick up your prescription looking a little death warmed over. But being negligent and lazy, and perhaps even a little rebellious with your appearance in order to cause a reaction amongst others is a teenage trait that adults should, need to outgrow. This is not to suggest that the people judging you are right in their judgment, or that they should be content basing their opinions of who you are or your worth on the way you look – only that the responsibility lies in both corners of the metaphorical boxing ring.
Take 10 seconds and look over yourself before you leave the house. If you are going somewhere where you are trying to make a good impression or want to be taken seriously as an adult, then look at yourself for a minute or more. Ask yourself before you choose a decade old get-up that made you feel good in your late teens, whether the message you are sending with it now, is the one intended. And at the very least, try to make sure that you are clean before leaving the house.
This is a rough world we live in. No matter how much we pretend that appearances don’t matter, the reality is that they do. Very much in certain situations. You owe it to yourself to present yourself in a manner which speaks volume for who you really are.