Save your pity for the beauty queen

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Some people have a face that tells their story. Every hardships and triumph is written in the lines on their face. These people are often a favorite subject for photographers, although they would not be considered traditionally beautiful. On the flip side, there is that stunning blonde with legs up to her ears that turns every head when she enters a room. From angel to witch and everything in between, you can’t help to form some instantaneous judgment. She is probably promiscuous. She can’t be smart.  She must be so full of herself that she can’t eat food. Her life must be perfect.

Maybe it’s the casting director in me, but I go beyond people watching. I imagine their story.  We all do this to one degree or another. It is called stereotyping, which society tells us not to do. (Society might just as well tell us not to breathe.) I think it is better to understand why we stereotype and train yourself to see beyond what is in from of our face.

People are too complex to fathom. So we tend to group them into some category to make processing the individual more manageable. What we must train ourselves to do is to be open to the unique qualities that each person possesses. You are doing yourself a disservice to avoid people you perceive as different from you. Even people you abhor may surprise you. Maybe you will never truly like them, but they are here to teach you something.

In high school I closed myself off to just about everyone. That group is too brainy; the other group is too brawny. They were snobs, sluts, bible thumpers, drug addicts, or racists. It was easy to justify not getting to know any of these people once I sorted them into neat piles. I even took stereotyping in another direction in deciding some were not the person they appeared to be:  a creature dubbed “Poser”.  I held everyone in supreme judgment and few were perfect enough to be my friend.  In reality, I was the snob.

I realized my first year of college that I could be friends with people with different views than me, and not compromise who I am. There was no need to conform to fit neatly into any box, or to change their viewpoint to match my own. I discovered the joy of relishing in our differences. By looking past that first impression I discovered a world of knowledge and realized all the fun that I’d been missing.

What are you missing when you pass judgment on that gorgeous blonde? The story is there, and it might not be as pretty as her face.  My friend’s think I’m kidding when I say I feel sorry for the wealthy, and the very beautiful.  They have problems, I know. (No I’m not wealthy, nor do I have delusions of being a great beauty.) I know a lot of very attractive, unhappy people. For starters they have people who think they are dumb or who only like them for their looks. They have pressure on them to stay beautiful forever. They have parents that die, children with disabilities, and scars both inside and out.

If you have ever been misjudged you know how damaging it can be. Accept that the stereotype you assign to a fellow human being is wrong. Not the act of classification itself, but the label. Give yourself the gift of getting to know a variety of people Realize that there is beauty everywhere you choose to find it. See people with more than your eyes.

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