Saturday, March 21, 2009

Judging Others

Are you judgmental when you see someone who looks different than you? I am ashamed to admit that I have been guilty of this in the past.

Recently, while sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room, two nice looking and well-dressed men carrying briefcases walked in and sat in the two empty seats to my left. I automatically assumed they were pharmaceutical reps from their conversation I overheard about selling medications.

A few minutes later a young man with numerous tattoos and piercings walked in. My immediate thought was ‘oh please do not sit next to me, you look freaky’. I can’t even rationally explain why I didn’t want him to sit there. What did he do? He sat next to me on my right.

My mind was racing and I was unkindly comparing him to the other men sitting there, soon I was classifying him in a negative judgmental way.

I could barely continue reading because I was so mentally distracted by his unique physical appearance. I secretly wanted to stare at him from behind my magazine. But I refrained.

This guy had so many piercings and tattoos all over his face, and on the front and back of his neck and arms. In my opinion he looked gross. It made me appalled that someone would do this to their body. Almost everyone in the waiting room was staring at him in disbelief. Some were actually whispering loudly about him.

Another lady sitting nearby boldly spoke up and asked him just how many piercings he had and he answered saying, “118 above my shoulders.”

There wasn’t a spot on his skin that I could see that wasn’t tattooed or pierced. This isn’t his photo above; however the man looked almost exactly like this person other than the hair.

While reading my magazine the front door opened again and a fragile older lady was trying to push her elderly husband through the doorway in a wheelchair and was having difficulty. Immediately I got up to help by holding the door open, right away the pierced guy jumped up, and assisted the couple in getting the wheelchair inside. The lady had accidentally dropped her purse, and the young man bent down and picked it up and the contents that had spilled out, then he helped position the wheelchair beside his wife’s chair. Making sure they were comfortable.

This happened while the two other nice-looking men in business suites remained in their seats talking, and continued to watch without moving.

The elderly lady thanked us both for helping them. Soon they had struck up a conversation with the man who helped them, and they were laughing together.

Once again I felt disgusted and saddened…this time it was with the two men who blatantly were inattentive and showed no respect for the elderly couple needing help, just to avoid being near the pierced guy.

Suddenly, I saw these two men in a different light, they were no longer nice looking but rather as selfish individuals. And I saw the pierced man completely differently. I was wrong, and had judged him unjustly. He had shown he was a thoughtful, caring person regardless of what he looked like.

This got me to thinking about how we sometimes are quick to jump to conclusions about people and judge them about their outward appearances, based on what we can physically see.

While I can say I know that I will never be a fan of multiple tattoos and face piercings, I can say with certainty I am going to try my best to be less judgmental of a person’s looks in the future. Yes I was guilty of judging the nice looking guys also.

Everyone is God's creation, someone’s child, parent, partner, and loved one and I need to remember this and accept them for who they are even if I don't approve of their actions. I am far from perfect, and have been judged because I am a plus size, yet I want others to accept me even though I may look different than them.

This taught me something about myself. I hope I will always remember that appearances can be deceiving. It’s what is on the inside that matters the most.

(I do not have permission from this person in the picture to use his photo, and I truly hope he doesn’t mind as it has been passed around the Internet for a few years.)


  1. I find that people watching at airports tells me a lot. The business types are yammering on their cell phones (loudly) and some of the conversations are revealing about personality and attitude. And then there are others who sit quietly and read. I occasionally see freaky looking people but I view diversity in appearance and attitude to be good. As I've always heard, "never judge a book by it's cover".

  2. Great story Debi, and it tells a lot about how we all pre-judge people by their appearance. There may be times we have it right, but that doesn't make it the proper thing to do - and think about all the times we do get it wrong.

    This is a good reminder to us all. Thanks for that.