We all have heard the admonishment that we should not judge a book by its cover when it comes to judging people by their appearance.  I am not so sure that it is not a fundamental part of human nature to make inferences and assumptions based on the image other people project with their appearance or the manner in which they dress or adorn themselves.

Let’s take a hypothetical scenario by way of making my point.   Suppose three individuals were walking toward you and, respectively, they were prominently wearing a religious cross and rosary beads, a peace symbol, and a swastika.  I guarantee that you would make certain inferences and judgments about each person’s values, perspective on life, and social agenda just from that limited information.

A real life example that always gets my attention is when I see young men wearing their pants far below their waist.   I first shake my head in disbelief and bemusement before I inevitably reach the conclusion that the individual is projecting a visually disturbing image in an absurd sort of way.  The problem of drooping pants was first encountered by prisoners who found themselves without belts or other means to hold their pants in place.  Now, some people who find it reasonable to emulate this very negative element in our society have adopted this as a fashion statement.   I am not suggesting that this will corrupt our society or even the individuals involved, but it certainly gives me the impression that they may be foolish or misguided.

The way you choose to look does and should influence the way you are viewed by others because it, usually, indicates how you want to be viewed.  It is reasonable to believe that the appearance you adopt whether it be an expensive suit, casual street clothes, extensive tattoos and piercings, or a biker gang jacket says something about you, your point of view, and the things you deem to be important.  It would be a mistake to disregard the messages being sent by the images people intend to project to others.

Of course, you cannot fully judge someone’s character or predict with certainty that person’s behavior solely from their appearance.  Unfortunately, we know very little about the vast majority of the people we encounter every day, so, by necessity, we can only react to the limited information afforded us by their appearance.   In reality, for most of the people we encounter, image is everything.

On Monday, Joe expresses his personal feelings in support of the death penalty in “Death Penalty, A Personal Statement”.