Your parents lied to you; Looks really DO matter


by Kenneth Justice

~ How many of us had parents who taught us that our, “Looks don’t matter, all that matters is that you be yourself. All that matters in life is that you’re a good person”

Isn’t it about time we all admit that is a crock of B.S.? The Oscars were last night, an evening with a whole lot of pomp and ceremony (emphasis on the ‘pomp’), a long night of listening to Hollywood starlets tell the camera who they “are wearing”. Hollywood is all about looks. For every Kathy Bates, there are a thousand young beautiful Natalie Portman’s and Grace Kelleys.

God bless Julianne Moore, I really love her as an actress, and I’m happy she one the Oscar yesterday for Best Actress. But let’s not kid herself, she’s has earned a lot of roles in the past because she was willing to get naked for the camera, and because she looks good (both in clothes and out of them). Hollywood is all about looks.

However, it’s not just Hollywood where looks matter. Having good looks and dressing well help propel some people over others. “Dress for success” is what we are told when looking for a new job or career. How you dress matters. If you show up to an interview for a Fortune 500 company wearing sweatpants and tennis shoes, don’t expect for them to take you seriously.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with caring about how we dress. In fact, for some time I have thought that it’s silly for teachers and parents to tell us that “Looks don’t matter” because we live in a world where looks DO matter.

This isn’t to say I’m in favor of pretty people being world leaders, and ugly people being their slaves. No not at all. It does mean that I’m suggesting that perhaps we need to take more seriously the idea of how we dress and the way we look. After all, as the saying goes, While God looks on the inside, Humanity does indeed look at our outward appearance.

Perhaps we should have courses in high school for young adults to teach them how to move from dressing as a child to dressing like an adult. Perhaps we should encourage people to take a few extra minutes in the morning in getting ready for the day.

Then again, perhaps I’ve simply been drinking too much coffee and I’m buzzing off the caffeine. Am I nuts? Do looks matter? Should we care about how we dress?

Tonight at 6pm central we’re going to have Allison and Rebecca on to discuss the subject of clothing and looks and as the question, Do you looks matter?

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee, (while wearing my Calvin Klein Jeans and Mark Anthony shirt)


Categories: Culture & Society

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30 replies

  1. Some excellent writing here because you’re really onto something.

    You’re not nuts at all, buddy. I stress this in my classroom, that unfortunately culture is judging you and it is usually by first time appearances. Your first opportunity to “prove yourself” is based on how you look. Is it fair? No. But is it true? Absolutely. And unfortunately this also goes for skin color. Looks really do matter (to society) because of assumptions, stereotypes, and prejudices.

  2. I just wrote a post about beauty, so the timing is perfect! Excited for the show tonight! 🙂

  3. Looks do matter and being presentable matters. People tend to make snap judgments based on first impressions, which may not be fair, but it is how our brains work.

    There’s another side to this too though, inner beauty tends to come out and how we’re feeling about ourselves shows on the outside. So “ugly” or “pretty ” can have a lot more to do with your attitude about yourself then any obvious physical aspects. Even the most attractive people can sluff around in sweats without their hair combed.

  4. It depends on personal preferences.

  5. of course looks matter or we would all wear the same stuff like the Amish do . . .

    I dress for comfort that means I wear Levi . . . and a white t-shirt . . . but by damn I wear american made Redwing on my feet. . . . that’s my only statement I guess . . .

  6. “Lie” is such a harsh word; how about “misled”.

  7. Looks absolutely matter. We’re hard wired to seek out good genetics to reproduce with and align ourselves with as a matter of survival of the fittest. That inclination towards people who have symmetrical features and healthy looking bodies is only amplified when they also seem confident and knowledgeable. They will help us “survive” in the world in which we live, protect us from the “dangers” of today and ensure success in life, or at least that’s what we’re thinking subconsciously when we meet or simply just look at certain people who fit that criteria. Telling someone to take the “looks don’t matter” approach is asking them to fight their very nature.

  8. Do looks matter? Yes.
    Should they? No.

  9. Unfortunately, looks do matter. As a size 4-6 person who used to be morbidly obese, I distinctly notice how differently I’m treated now that I fit the “norm”. I used to be ignored in clothing stores, but just a week ago, the woman helping me at a high-end outlet told me that I was fun to dress because I was “like a little Barbie Doll.” 18 months ago, she may not have said hello to me had I walked into her store. I always taught my daughters that looks didn’t matter, but I made sure they dressed appropriately and were always well put together to stay under the radar of bullies. However, I equally made sure they were kind and caring to others. Being a teacher gave me the inside on how easy a child can become the target of a bully. I wanted to do everything possible to keep my own children safe.

  10. What are we defining “looks” as? Are lopsided ears a defect? Is a mole on your lip distracting? Is a gap between the teeth an issue? Are we worried about things we can change or things we can’t? What is the priority here? This is such a complicated question.

    When I am teaching the girls about clothes, you better believe I talk about book covers and how they come up with marketing and that you shouldn’t “judge a book by it’s cover” but you do. That’s just life. Dress for where you want to be and that doesn’t mean go buy the most expensive clothing available but it does mean to wear appropriate clothing for the venue you are in. For example, you wouldn’t wear a business suit to work in a tattoo parlor. Just sayin’…

    However, if we are talking about weight, that indicates often a healthy lifestyle… well, I’m not skinny and I’m often tired and I know that my weight is indicative of my Oreo obsession. Girls, do as I say and ignore the girl in the pantry sneaking Cheetos at midnight… ’nuff said.

    But what about things that could only be changed with major surgery and great expense? Is this something we should be worrying about? Is it important that my daughter has perfectly aligned teeth above and beyond what my dentist says is health? Should I push a person to have a birth mark removed from their body because it is not what society considers beautiful? I think this is where we got on the crazy train in America.

    Let’s be honest – how many people in Hollywood are aging gracefully? Elizabeth Taylor was a Thanksgiving turkey before she passed away and Joan Rivers was practically blinking her lips. It’s not just those with disposable income that are going a little nuts with making sure they stay perfect or get perfect or whatever. I was working in Tustin, CA and a lady working with me made $11.50 an hour in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA and still managed to have botox on a regular basis. She always looked surprised when I told her she was nuts to spend her money that way. Ba-dum-psh….

    I have met girls that take two hours to “get ready” in the morning and put on make up before getting into a pool.

    Maybe it’s all a matter of opinion, priorities and maybe sometimes, even job title and expectation.

  11. Wow, something I can agree with. Looks matter. How you dress matters. Your skin color unfortunately matters. These are the truths one learns as an adult.

  12. We shouldn’t forget to have vanity as part of this discussion. True vanity is to objectify one’s self or see one’s self as better than others. Shouldn’t we be trying to see each other as equals, despite physical or mental – tangible strengths? However I think what we wear is often an issue of social justice.

    “Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.” – people in our culture today would think John the Baptist was a coconut, but he wasn’t a hypocrite.

    That said, I think the money people spend on cloths is often hypocrisy. For example, I think that the expensive suites that men in the Mormon church wear and TV preachers wear demonstrates their “worldly nature” and their “worldly desires”. I don’t think you can talk about giving, charity and self sacrifice when you are wearing 100s or 1000s of dollars. This discredits them. At least in Hollywood it is obvious that their message is: The Accumulation of Worldly Possessions and Status (so wearing a tux isn’t hypocritical for Ben Affleck).

    I think maybe home craft and thrift store shopping is the way to go. The clothing industry is often a little too full of sweatshops, and child labor, it also creates a large amount of waste water, and a large ecological footprint (from shipping the materials and products around the globe during manufacturing). In the world today: what we choose to wear is an issue of global justice.

    If that means I get bullied and looked down on by my family or strangers, not my problem. If I can respond to bullying with kindness maybe they will learn something.

    I have 1st Samuel 16:7 up on my bathroom mirror. “…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Which you quoted here Kenneth.

    If we have too much we should give some to those who have none.

  13. The book “Immeasurable” is a good book to read regarding body image, looks, etc..

  14. “Immeasurable” by Angela McMichael.

  15. Really? A Mark Anthony shirt…that´s kind of cool. Marky di mark, anyways yes parents did lie to most people and I have no idea why. My parents are more of tough love so they did tell me since quite a young age to dress nice, act like this or that because first impressions where everything and looks did mater. I then turned out to be a little bit of a screw up though, but at least they did put roses in my head. I can still remember my old man early in the morning as he woke up at 5 a.m to go to work all pumped up yelling to me “Charlie, time to go to war” Didn´t understand it at the time, thought he was nuts, actually scared the bejesus out of me thinking anytime soon a bomb was going to land of the roof of the house, but slowly reality set in that life is harsh, and day after day it´s a constant battle of problem solving. That plus quite some smacks on the back of the head from mom, did keep me in order for quite a long time until I grew and was responsible for my own decisions. Point being, seems that now a days kids are just not taught from an early age that life is harsh, you got to fight through bad times and not let them keep you down, and what´s up with the giving trophies for everyone, trophies for participation? What the hell is that, you win or you loose the game. That´s it. No trophies if you loose for participating in the soccer game or whatever it is. If you loose you get a mouthful by the trainer as to why you did it bad and next time improve in whatever it was that you where lacking. Good thing is, I´m pretty good looking so I don´t have to worry much about that part……

  16. Reblogged this on Humyn and commented:
    Tune in at 6:00 central for the live show! We’ll be discussing if looks really matter.

  17. The looks maybe matters in USA, EU, and Japan, S. Korea…
    However, when you struggle for drinkable water (3 billion people recently on Earth), not to mention food; when you are in complete lack of proper or any medication and healthcare or just simply you are in a war zone, looks really less matter, but heart, merit and grace do.
    For me it more and more obviuos, western people (or many of them) shoudl experience these for a while, to get to their senses.

    • and yet more people from the USA, EU and other developed areas suffer more from eating disorders and depression then ever before…. something must be wrong with the image of beauty that they are selling us.

    • There is the “inner voice”, when we are in a tranquil environment or meditate, pray, we can hear it more and more. That will always tell the truth, and for that we need to make efforts, not only clicking on remote controls…

  18. Yes, looks do matter. It’s form over substance. Pretty much always has been that way, unfortunately, and is getting worse as our society continues to crumble.

  19. That is a nice piece of work you wrote there and it got lots of people thinking.
    Luckily there is no account for tastes.
    I’d like to quote my friend Rabbi Berner (the whiskey rabbi) who once put it like this when talking to a pretty girl,’ One day, not far away, your good looks are going to expire. To be the centre of attention then you’ll have to light yourself on fire.’ and there you have it.
    Keep on blogging in a free world
    – The False Prophet

  20. Yes, Look matters but I being skinny (despite of how much I eat) always had felt attracted to a chubby guys, and if they are older than me, even better. I consider myself an aesthete, I appreciate beauty, that kind of beauty that years and extra pounds can’t fade away. And I want to think a lot of people think alike.

    Good article, by the way.

  21. Beauty is completely subjective and the fashion industries is a multi-billion dollar industry designed to make people feel ugly no matter what they look like so that people, particularly women, will always feel inadequate about them selves and spend their money on an every changing fashion. It is always chased and never caught because they keep on making it more and more impossible to achieve.
    Beauty comes with self confidence and self belief, and that is what the fashion industry targets against so people will buy what they sell.

  22. Reblogged this on Peaceful City Life and commented:
    Great, brief commentary on outward appearances and how they drive us.

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