Our Mothers, Grandmothers and teachers all tell us “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but that is what we do. I think everyone is guilty of it at some point, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. When I write these posts I normally just leave my mind to flow but still have a general idea of where I want it to end up, but I just stopped to think about this one and it seems my logic is leading me somewhere unexpected. I wanted to write a deep piece about how you shouldn’t judge people by how they look but at this point I’m not quite sure if that is how it is going to turn out. Let’s launch into it anyway.

As I stand in a bookshop, let’s say Dundee Waterstones as it is a frankly gorgeous shop, I see a plethora of genres before me with an array of colour and style of covers. Bright pink with princesses- that’s probably a girl’s book, Leather bound with gold lettered embossing- a bible or perhaps something historical, Mary Berry or a cake- a cook book perhaps? Dark green or purple with a splash of ink and some mystic trinket, that’s more my style. You get the idea then you can general judge a physical book by its cover. Why? Because covers are designed to draw in the right people and to reflect the books contents. Sure, if you lose the dustjacket for a hardback it can be difficult to tell by the cover, but if the whole cover is there then to not judge it upon that to some extent is a bit of an insult to the artist who made it. Does this same principle apply to people though? Can you judge a person by how they dress?

Typically people dress in a way that allows them to express who they are or, perhaps more frequently, who they want to be. That is kind of what fashion is all about. It is your dustjacket. To pick on my now former flat for examples, Stephanie always went out clubbing in dark red lipstick and a figure hugging dress or a crop top and jeans because she wanted to show she was confident and attractive and feel that as well. Cathy went out almost every day in either short shorts or harem pants to show she was fun, original and frankly nuts and unafraid of hypothermia. While neither of these people would probably admit to be wanting to be judged by the way they look I feel that is exactly what they are actually wanting, at least on some level. We all do the same thing, so what’s the problem?

The problem is the word “judge”. The way I have used it thus far is to mean to get an impression of the person; however, it can be used in a way meaning to criticise and be judgemental about people. That is where I draw the line. I would be frankly disappointed if people didn’t formulate an impression of me based upon how I dress, I put a lot of time, money and effort into it; what I do take issue with though is when people use that impression to criticise and, for the lack of a better word, persecute people for how they dress. An example of this is where people may be dressed the clothes of the opposite gender and are harassed for that. Another example is where people are dressed in a way that is generally described as “chavvy”, designer trainers, crop top, shell suit and dreadful hair. Although you almost can’t help but be slightly judgemental about the way they are, possibly even slightly intimidated, it is still not acceptable to discriminate against them for it. Stephanie went out one night with her medic parents, dressed as chavs for a medical student night out- people crossed the road to avoid them and then the security at the club lectured them about not taking drugs or sneaking alcohol in, which they didn’t do to anyone else. This is the kind of judgement I am meaning.

Maybe then you shouldn’t “judge” a book by it’s cover, but you can certainly gain an impression of it.