The Looks Make the Man

Sadie - Menomonie, Wisconsin
Entered on April 8, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

With exposure to enough diversity of every culture, color, and status I believe we could overcome prejudgments on other people. This sounds so simple, but it is not. What color we are, what religion we have, and what culture we grew up in is all what influences us in who we are. In order to understand each other perfectly, we must have a great understanding of all aspects of one another. We have to respect one another, and embrace differences. But in order to embrace differences we must have some sense of curiosity in order to want to learn more about other people. This curiosity comes from what was initially thought of about people. No two people are the same, but with an open mind and understanding I believe that prejudgments on one another can disappear.

Why negative prejudgments are made on other people is hard to define. Some people may have the initial reaction of prejudgment because that is what they were taught their whole life. Parents teach children to judge mainly because they are ignorant, and fearful. Others may do it because they feel threatened. Such as if a man with dirty ragged clothes came and sat next to a person on the park bench, and their first reaction is to stay away because he just wants money from them. This reaction was all based on just the initial thought of the person because of what they are wearing and how they are carrying themselves. Fear of the unknown is something that everyone deals with. To fix the problem of fear of those we don’t know, we have to no longer be unknown to them.

Looks do not make the man, but they influence the way others see them. I know it is not right to judge a person on what they look like, but when glancing around the room the first thing I notice is what a person is wearing, their gender, their race, the body posture. I believe it is impossible not to have some thoughts about people before knowing them. The curiosity factor comes into my head the moment I see something. The beauty and the wonder comes into play when meeting that person for the first time, and being completely proven wrong about every negative thought you had about that person. When getting to know a person the prejudgments go away quickly when the true personality of that person comes out. A few months ago I was wondering downtown Minneapolis and sat down on a bench near the local Barns and Noble’s. There was a man sitting next to me he didn’t seem strange by any means, but wasn’t overly friendly either. He was about 50 years old, black, lower-middle class, and seemed out of work with nothing else to do with his time but watch people. We somehow got to talking and we talked for about an hour. It turned out that he had been living in Minneapolis all his life, never been to a Walmart in his life, and had the same birthday as me. It was crazy. This man was never married, and had bought candles for each member of his family for Christmas. His laugh was a laugh reminding me of a good friend. The kind of laugh a person could recognize at any time any where. His hands were large and strong. Like this man had worked hard his whole life. I had never had such a great time being alone downtown a huge city in my life. We learn so much from strangers and people we are friends with. The only way we got close enough to be friends with those people is by allowing first impressions to subside for a moment. I could have easily kept to myself that day, but I decided to let someone else’s life into mine. If we can put past any judgments for just a minute we will be fine because for that one minute the person’s true self can come out allowing us to accept them for who they are and not what we think they are.

People are treated differently by the way they dress all the time. I notice this in my everyday life, and it gets to me once and a while. I notice if I walk into the grocery store and I am wearing sweatpants people won’t look twice at me, yet if I walk in the store with nice jeans on and heels I am more likely to be noticed. Main reason for this is because I don’t fit the standard of the crowd or the sex appeal. There is no manual that states that I cannot wear what I want to the grocery store within reason, yet I am looked upon differently. The stereotypes that come with this example are minimal. But if I was a black woman walking into a restaurant in a small, white, town I would also be looked at different. The stereo types that come with being black are much broader than stereotypes that come from wearing nice clothes.

People underestimate the power of judgment. Placing judgment on one another can make or break a relationship before it even happens. It protects a person from dealing with any difference they may encounter throughout their life.