I had a conversation recently with a friend who suggested that another mutual friend of ours needed to 'upgrade' his appearance in order to be more effective at his job. I understood his point: if you 'look' a certain way then people are more apt to go along with whatever it is that you want them to do. The clothes make the man, dress for success, etc. But I was reluctant to agree with my friend on the basis that the issue he was talking about seemed to be a superficial one.
Or is it?
This raises all kinds of questions with me. Is it wrong to make judgements about people based on the way that they look? We think the right answer is no, but this can go either way. If you see a person who is dirty, dressed sloppily and shows no evidence of personal grooming; you could make the assumption that they are either 1) a homeless street person, or absent that, they are at least 2) undisciplined and apathetic, or 3) possibly mentally out of touch with reality. These are all 'judgements' we can make. The person may even have a heart of gold, but if they were a CPA, would you trust them with your retirement account?
What about people who are overweight? I know some have health reasons that lead to obesity, but aren't most simply overeating and underactive? And do those personal deficiencies in their behavior translate into other poor decision making?
Does the admonition to 'not judge' from Matthew 7 apply here? That passage is routinely twisted out of context. I think the warning there is against being hypocritically judgmental. There is a difference between judging and being judgmental. We have to make judgments every day in order to function. We certainly wouldn't say the judicial system is unbiblical since there is judging going on. There's even a book called Judges in the bible.
As I said in Off To The Races, racism takes the individual out of the picture. It creates stereotypes that may have no connection to reality. We wouldn't want to make those kinds of judgments. Another big problem is comparing ourselves to each other in the way we look, or how eloquently we speak, or how talented we are at something. When we do that, we are making judgments on superficial things. Usually those assessments make us feel bad about ourselves if we determine that we don't match up, or prideful about ourselves if we determine we are 'better' than someone else.
What do you think about this issue? Is there validity both ways?
Is it always wrong to make decisions based on appearances?