- Business and Employment
What Our Appearance Says About Us
Whether we like it or not our appearance sets a picture in other people’s minds of the kind of person we are. Some people say looks shouldn’t matter; it’s what is inside that counts. That is true but subconsciously we all draw our own conclusions whether we realize it or not.
Think about people you see throughout your day. What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you see different individuals? The woman at the grocery store with messy hair, wearing pajamas with the hem dragging in the dirt; the man in filthy, holey clothes and facial stubble and another gentleman in a suit, tie and nice shoes. In our thoughts we draw a conclusion of each of these people’s status in society and their personal life story.
Employers make a decision early on in an interview. They have a perception of the kind of worker you will be based on how you are dressed, your weight, hair style and over all appearance. If you come in looking disheveled with wrinkled clothing (they don’t care if it is in style) and slouch when you sit, they get the idea that you are lazy. You didn’t care about the way you look and more than likely your job performance will be the same.
People who are neat in appearance, take extra care with their make-up, hair and clothing gives us the mental picture of a put together individual who is meticulous with details. We see them as someone who will make sure the project is done well.
Perception is different for everyone depending on your life experiences and the kind of people you have come in contact with in your past.
I’ve noticed, for instance, men’s hair. It was a point of contention in the 70’s for boys to have long hair in school. There was a rule that their hair couldn't touch their collar (oh yes, they had to wear collars too) and if it got too long they were sent home. Eventually celebrities and news anchor men wore theirs longer and the schools loosened their guidelines. In the 80’s everyone was used to it and it was no big deal.
There was a time when zoot suits were considered bad and some establishments wouldn’t allow men that wore them past their doorway. They had a gangster reputation. Watch old movies and see if you don’t get that impression when you see these men enter the scene.
A person dressed like a rapper puts a certain idea in mind. Your past experience draws you a picture of his personality, way of speaking and behavior. These young men might be harmless, educated and intelligent but first glance we decide they are bad boys. Lyrics to the songs paint us a portrait of illegal behavior, promiscuous habits and no one we would want our daughters to be seen with.
A few people behave in a certain manner while dressing a certain way and that gets imbedded in our mind as the definition of that look.
Tattoos are a subject of recent discussion. At one time it was associated with bikers and the rough crowd but now you are just as likely to see an executive sporting one. My father in law was a banker in the 70's but prior to that he was in the Navy and had a few colorful additions to his arms. They showed through his white dress shirt so he had them burned off. During that time it wasn’t acceptable to have a tattoo. Even now I’ve seen some young people in restaurants and stores with bandages over their ink and piercings so it doesn’t offend the customers. Some employers are more lenient than others.
And speaking of piercings there was a time when only bad girls got their ears pierced. Some cultures found it a sign of beauty but western countries were slow to catch on. Eventually it became fashionable and now you seldom see a woman without her ears pierced.
What picture are you presenting to society? What manner of dress or style offends you?