I’ve had this general idea since I would young, and thought I would try it out on you good folks.
We generally agree with the adage that you should not judge a book by its cover. We all get the jist. 1: A person’s merit should not be gauged based on outward attributes they have no control over. And 2: A person’s might be very different upon getting to know them than their outward appearance would suggest.
Well, I generally agree with the first principle, but I have some serious problems with the second in regards to extreme manners of dress, hair, make-up, piercings, and tattoos. I reserve the right to judge these people as much as I see fit, and here is why:
Let’s suppose there is a guy that sits the cubicle over from you who reeks of cat urine every day. You would be fully justified in assuming he has bad hygiene and is probably an animal hoarder. You find out one day that he is actually very clean and doesn’t own a cat, but his favorite cologne is a cat-urine scented brand called Felis Pisque. It’s not that he doesn’t know that cat urine is generally considered to be a foul smell. It’s not that he doesn’t know it rubs other people the wrong way. He just likes the smell and does it anyway, because his personal preference in smell is more important to him than social conformity.
Now let’s say this guy frequently complains about how people judge him based on his smell. That people avoid sitting next to him on the bus. That he is passed up for certain jobs. When you plead with him, "Just change to Old Spice or something?" he says, "No, I shouldn’t have to conform. If I am avoided and turned away because of this smell that is society’s problem, not mine."
We can clearly see that the co-worker is being ridiculous. I feel the same way about extreme manners of dress. Being judged for something you can't help is one thing, being judged for a very deliberate and informed choice is something else. If you don’t want to say much with your external appearance, you will dress in a neutral way. The more extreme you dress, the more you are trying to say. Dressing like a drummer from a heavy metal band and expecting people not to form opinions of you is like shouting and expecting others not to listen.
I also find that people who express themselves to a great extent with their outward appearance tend to have a vicious double standard. They are (typically) lying when they say they don’t want to be judged. They are willing to listen all day to people compliment them for being so expressive, brave, unique, or creative. They just don’t wanna listen to the person who says, "You look like a damn fool."
Now the obvious question, that I have heard in response to this, is "Don’t you express yourself outwardly?" Yes I do. I keep up the appearance of a typical professional, educated young mid-western male. It’s very boring yes, but I choose to express myself through my words rather than my appearance. And I have no problem being judged based on my words, for that is how I express myself. You express yourself with your outward appearance, and I feel I am fully justified to judge all day long.