People want to be judged, but then again, they don’t.
In our superficial, “appearances matters” society looks and appearances can mean a lot. It can be the difference between getting and keeping a job, making a friend, finding a spouse or just being treated with some dignity and respect. It shouldn’t, but in many cases, it does. People judge you based on your appearance.
As we discussed scores of times in the LDS church (but not limited to it), your appearance can be the difference in the kind of callings you receive, the opinion other ward members may have of your “righteousness,” and just the all-around social attention you get. And it does not necessarily just extend to appearances. The kind of comments you make in class, the questions you ask, even the way your children behave all add up to the judgments made about you. People who are disaffected from the Church or may not be participating fully are also judged. These are situations where we do not want to be judged.
And there are many cases in society in general where we do not want to be judged.
But, as a society, as people, we really DO want to be judged. We just want people to be selective about it. On our terms.
No more is this evident as in the world of sports and celebrity. I use this as an example, because it is easy and so illustrative.
Sports figures and actors, for example, want to be judged based on their skills, their performances, their amazing good looks and their overall “talent.” They want to be, for the most part, admired, beloved, fawned over, and to have scores of money spent on them. Frankly, this is how they make their living. And, they want us to judge them based on those things. And, in the cases of celebrities, they may spend millions of dollars to preserve and enhance their looks in order to have us keep judging them worthy of our attention. This is because society in general passes judgment on them, not solely based on their talents, but on their appearances.
This is odd because, as we age ourselves, our idea of good looks change somewhat. As we get older, older people become more attractive to us than we would have thought as younger people. At least that is what I have found. Some of the people we grew up with, both as celebrities and as friends and acquaintances seem to be better looking as older people than when they were younger. This is not always the case but I have personally found this to be true in many cases.
And yet, the plastic surgery industry is thriving as famous people and everyday people spend millions on trying to maintain and “improve” on their appearance. While one of the key fundamentals of the Women’s movement should have been to liberate women from the idea that their competence and self-worth is tied to their appearance, more women than ever are having surgical procedures to enhance their appearance. This is not limited to women either. So, while we have made incredible strides in the not judging people’s competence based on gender or race, it seems that the appearance problem might be larger than ever.
Getting back, to celebrities and sports figures. While they want to be judged based on their performances on the stage, screen, field or court, they do not want us to judge them based on how they conduct their so-called private lives. Which in many cases, they choose to live in the public eye. No matter their conduct, we should separate their public persona from their private. They are not to be considered role models. At least that is what some of them say.
So go ahead and spend your money on me for that movie or sports contest, but don’t judge me if I end up in jail because of a DUI or with a child, not married or having cheated on my spouse.
They are good examples because they really mirror our society. We want to be judged in a good way in some areas of our lives, but not in others where we may be lacking somewhat. We’ll spend hours on our appearance, but not want to be judged based on it, unless it is a good judgment.
We want to be judged as imperfect ourselves, because none of us are perfect, but we are willing to pass judgment on someone’s testimony because they ask a question expressing doubt or uncertainty or because they struggle in some way. Or because they might not “look the part.”
How do you deal with this duality? We all suffer from it to some extent. Do you have it under control? If so, how do you do it?