thumb biter: Snap Judgment: When to Trust Your Instincts, When to Ignore Them, and How to Avoid Making Big Mistakes with Your Money
The biggest cliche in America and probably every other culture is that judgments based on appearance are unfair and inaccurate, but the nuances of what “judgment” even means have been so clouded by the word’s overuse that it’s not strictly accurate to denounce snap judgments.
To clarify, I use “judgment” in the strictly literal sense, without the common negative associations with contempt or ostracism. I don’t mean judging à la Mean Girls, that somebody is not worth your common courtesy (everybody is) or your time and friendship. I mean judging that somebody is worth your friendship; that something about how somebody carries, dresses, or presents themselves reveals, perhaps, that there is something relatable in them past the barrier of stiff social interactions between strangers.
As with any other shortcut, appearance-based judgments can be completely misguided; obviously nothing but actual attempts at friendship will tell you whether you’ll get along. But clothing - like speech - as something that everybody has to make choices about every day, something that everybody knows will revealed openly for public scrutiny, is a fair indicator of a tiny part of what goes on in someone’s head. Clothing is not so much a part of a shallow “outward” appearance as an indicator of personal aesthetic taste, by which, Rand’s The Fountainhead points out, our very selves are defined, or at least revealed.
It’s very possible that I only have these views, or they only hold true for me, because of the large role that aesthetics play in my interests and ideals. Perhaps it’s because the style that happens to embody my personal notions of beauty is so closely tied with certain social movements or political beliefs (nostalgic girliness and liberalism and avant-garde fashion and feminism), a coincidence of culture, that I associate dressing “well” with people I’ll get along with, or that I am usually right. If that’s the case, though, and my “judging” others prematurely results in the friendships of squealing enthusiasm and blissfully completing each others’ sentences and wardrobes, which only rarely form past adolescence, I’m all for choosing, or at least skimming, my books based on their covers.