Why does our culture judge solely on appearance?

Our society places excessive attention on looks and appearance for impressions; we might need to change it.

Before we had clothes, there were leaves and palm fronds to cover our skin. Evolution birthed ego and the need to not only cover sensitive parts, but everything.

Like anything, evolution births invention and the advent of style and fashion began, sometimes as a distinct conveyor class. Slowly clothes started offering insights into profession and class — affluence or otherwise.

Asides clothes now representing some of our less interesting traits, our entire appearance metric has become an forceful judge of character, a determinant for respect and a legislator of perception.

There Is a Little Problem

A suit probably represents the corporate and earns respectable trait because we allowed it. The suit did not just fall off the sky and named itself the standard for corporate or civil life.

While history documents the 3-piece suit as having a scattered record, its simplified, sartorial version was established by King Charles II in the 17th century.

Equally, jeans and shirt did not just create themselves as the standard for casual fashion. Tinted hair colour on a lady did not create itself as a standard for “bad lifestyle”.

Asides the judgement of character, Nigerians wrongly attribute wealth to appearance; clothe, cars and accessories. Any noticeably rich, but conservative spender Nigeria is deem miserly. The problem is that Nigerians wrongly judge based on what societal standards demand.

We Create These Standards

These divided opinions and subtle definitions were created by us. While a significant amount of these meanings attributed to different appearance had certain help from people, we have allowed them warp our perception.

While a lady in her 20s with tinted hair might definitely be slightly too liberal by societal standards that basically expect women to be conservative, her lifestyle might not be bad as society perceives her to be.

Equally, being in a suit does not necessarily mean responsibility. A suit is now camouflage for armed robbers who want to ghost their ways into systems. Our own standard of perception are now being used against us.

Yes, a suit is beautiful and looks elegant. That probably made history create it as the standard for elegance and civility, but changing interpretation has continually betrayed us.

What State Are We?

We are in a conundrum. Yoruba people have a saying ìríni sí nì soni lójò. It roughly translates to how you are seen is how you will be perceived. It could also apply to first impressions last longer.

Though it represents a solution, but most people are unlikely to give people a chance before judging them on appearance. What can however help is the continued liberal nature of the world to soften standards of rightness.

But still, we are unlikely to see a total transformation is people perceiving character solely on appearance or how people accord respect based off appearance.

What we can do is encourage people to take greater time to evaluate people. While appearance helps to judge a person’s attention to detail and willingness to be civil, it also represents dogmatic conformity.

We have to find a balance

It is called a middle ground, moderation. While one can accord respect or otherwise; or judge based off appearance, closing one’s mind after such mind is opening oneself up to painful or pleasant surprises.

Before clothes, we are all human beings and civility itself that clothes portray is a human standard, before it became a metric for appearance and outcome of fashion choice.

We must all remember that we owe each other the benefit of the doubt either for the positive or the negative.

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