Do Our Appearances Define Us? I’m Saying No

Critics can be really useful. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve trawled the internet looking for reviews, desperate to know if the dye I’ve just bought  will turn my hair ‘bright pink, never again, two stars’ or ‘a beautiful chocolate shade’ which I’ll ‘DEFINITELY BE BUYING AGAIN :))))’. I want to know if that dress will come up two sizes too small, if that film is worth seeing or if that book is as good as everyone says. That’s not to say I don’t form my own opinions, but if I’m undecided about something then reading criticism or praise is going to sway me, I’m only human. In this case, I love critics. I thank them. But not always.

As I’ve said, sometimes I am absolutely desperate to know what people think. If that dye is going to turn my hair pink, I need to know. What I don’t need to know is the world’s opinion on my hair if it did, because every single one would be wrong. Girls, boys, teachers, employers, all would do the same if I walked in with unnaturally bright pink hair, looking like a human candy floss. ‘What an attention seeker.’ ‘Poor girl, dye job must have gone wrong.’ ‘She must be a trouble-maker. That pink hair is just SCREAMING that she’s going to be difficult to teach/work with/get a word in edgeways over.’ In my case, the ‘dye job gone wrong’ scenario would be pretty accurate. But none of these people would KNOW that for certain. I might actually quite like looking like a human candy floss. I could be the shyest, most hard working person who just happens to have pink hair. But they would all be making assumptions based on a judgement that it took them 10 seconds to make and possibly hours, weeks, months to rectify.

From an early age, we ask questions. We don’t know where places are, what happened 100 years ago, what certain words mean. So we’re given answers, facts, definitions. But it seems that childish need to have all the answers and define everything never goes away. Learning is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but attempting to define people based on their appearance isn’t. Nobody’s hair colour, skin colour, clothing, height or weight can 100% tell you if they’re sweet, shy, intelligent, funny, if they enjoy sports, if they’re artistic…

There is no evidence at all that a boy in a Lady GaGa t-shirt is gay, or that a girl in a short skirt has an outrageous amount of sex, and if even if those assumptions were true then there would still be no reason to judge! Likewise, there’s no proof whatsoever that a slightly rotund individual has never exercised or eaten healthily, or that a petite girl must have an eating disorder. I myself was tactlessly and bluntly asked by a co-worker when we first met if I was bulimic, as I happen to be quite small. It’s sad that that was her immediate thought process, rather than ‘She’s new, she seems nice, I’ll get to know her.’

There is simply no way that someone’s appearance can define somebody as a person. Yes, clothes and hair colour are expressions of self, but expression is open to interpretation and can be easily misunderstood. So let me just ask you this; if we have to research the promises of cosmetics, the plots of films or books and the sizing of clothes, and read first-hand experiences from people who’ve encountered these products all before we make an informed decision… can we not get to know people first too?

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