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Scoot Blog: Perception is NOT reality!

The conversation on “The Scoot Show” about the new song by Brad Paisley and LL Cool J titled “Accidental Racist” evolved into a discussion about judging people by the way they dress.

There were comments about how we judge police officers by their uniforms and a caller said that people with tattoos should be judged as less intelligent. But the conversation really erupted when I said that it’s not fair to judge a female who dresses in a very sexy way as someone who is actually promiscuous. I was surprised that a few women called to disagree with me and say that it is fair to judge a female by the way she dresses.

Women, like men, dress to attract attention. If you see a woman wearing a very short skirt or low-cut, tight jeans or a top that reveals cleavage, is it fair to assume that she is promiscuous? I have known a lot of women who were very sexy dressers, but were far from promiscuous. I have also known women who dressed conservatively but were quite ‘loose’ with their sexual activity.

I have long argued that it is unfair to perceive that a young male wearing a hoodie or sagging pants has criminal intent, and yet, there are many people who do assume criminal intent when passing anyone wearing certain clothes a certain way. Whether you like the style or not, hoodies and sagging pants have become fashionable with a young generation and once something becomes a fashion statement it is wrong project a criminal attitude on anyone donning a fashion trend.

We do judge people by their uniforms, but there is a big difference between a uniform, which represents an occupation, and a fashion statement, which is simply an expression of a young generation. I am a ‘hostile witness’ to the Baby Boomer generation because my generation is quick to judge based on clothes or fashion trends while conveniently forgetting that their generation adopted fashion trends and styles that were considered totally outrageous to the then-Establishment.

Many argue that ‘perception is reality’, but that is a statement that is often misunderstood. The idea that ‘perception is reality’ is for the purpose of understanding what the public perceives about a product, a candidate or a person for the purpose of create effective marketing. The phrase ‘perception is reality’ does not define reality; rather it defines what is perceived which can be totally opposite of reality.

I understand that people do judge others by the way they dress, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair. Since we do have a tendency to make initial judgments about others, it’s also important to question ourselves as to how fair those initial judgments are.

There are many young males with tattoos and edgy hair styles who don’t drink or do drugs and there are many young males who wear suits or Polo shirts who drink excessively and do drugs on a regular basis. In the same way, there are females who dress in a sexy way but are not morally promiscuous.

The song “Accidental Racist” addresses the idea that the white and black cultures often judge each other’s symbols without understanding the cultures. Not everyone who displays the Confederate flag is a racist and not everyone who wears sagging pants is a criminal or wants to be a criminal. There are millions of black Americans who are proud to be from the South and it would be wrong to label them racists. They may not display the Confederate flag, but they are proud of their Southern heritage and pride in the South does not always translate into racism.

It is a nature human instinct to project how we want to be perceived by the way we dress, but often the perceptions we project do not reflect who we are as individuals. The person who is well-dressed is not always the upstanding citizen he or she is perceived to be. And the person who is dressed to project a ‘bad boy’ or ‘bad girl’ image may not be a bad person.

I would think that my generation, the Baby Boomer generation, would understand how unfair it is to judge character by one’s style. Today, the fashions of the 60’s and 70’s may seem tame relative to the world today, but the long hair and the mini-skirts of that era were quite rebellious and judged by the Establishment to reflect a young generation that would go nowhere in life. Now that we are the Establishment, what is the justification for judging character based solely on style?


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People : Brad Paisley

04/11/2013 7:36PM
Scoot Blog: Perception is NOT reality!
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