Looks Can Lie: Why Judging Is Bad for You and How to Stop


“Never judge a book by its cover,” a wise person has surely told you in the past. It can be hard to resist that impulse, however, if you feel pressured to make flash judgments based on very little information – a situation that is very common in our culture. We have all had experiences in which we learn someone is not who we first thought they were. Remember that time you went on a date with someone who looked like a “nice guy”, only to find out that he was a narcissist later on?

The idea that looks can be deceiving can greatly affect our opinions of people and ourselves. Our culture bombards us with messages about the importance of appearance, making it seem like our value is our attractiveness. Bigotry and discrimination, like that expressed so strongly in Charlottesville only last week, is an extreme example of how judgments based on appearance can lead to hatred and even violence.

By judging someone’s worth based on their attractiveness, age, weight, race, or other element of their outer appearance, we hurt ourselves and others. Many who see themselves as unattractive by society’s standards feel less confident in themselves. Ninety percent of women are unhappy with how they look, and many women bully and fat-shame themselves daily.

The Dangers of Judging People Based on Appearances

Today, the average woman can face several forms of discrimination and oppression based on looks. Weight discrimination, for example, is now as common as racial discrimination. Ageism is another frequent problem, referring to our culture’s constant emphasis on being young and beautiful and the devaluation of elders in general.

Despite everyday assumptions, we cannot even accurately judge a person’s trustworthiness based on their looks. Research has shown that you might be able to tell how intelligent or extraverted a person is based on a quick look at their face, but you can’t tell whether they can be trusted. This is a real problem, as trustworthiness is vastly more important then either intelligence or extraversion – whether you’re looking to date, hire, or elect someone.

It’s hard to admit to ourselves that we may have an unconscious bias towards others based on their appearances. We may not even realize that our behavior is judgmental. Often people mistakenly think they are helping those who struggle with their weight by judging and criticizing them, for example. Simply put: It doesn’t help anyone to feel shamed.

How We Can Embrace Our Inner Beauty

Our culture’s focus on outer beauty has led us to forget about our own inner beauty and what is really significant. Wouldn’t you agree that it’s more important to be a good friend, a good listener, and trustworthy than have 6-pack abs? We accept criticism and fat-shaming to the point that we have internalized the messages and repeat them to ourselves, becoming our own biggest bullies. With millions of women unhappy with how they look, our confidence is undermined daily. But this doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

We have the opportunity to move away from bullying, hatred, and bigotry.

We can stop telling ourselves we’re fat, old, or not sexy enough.

We can create a massive change in the way we approach ourselves and others. How can we embrace our inner beauty? Imagine what would happen if instead of fat-shaming other women and ourselves, we focused on their inner beauty and our own. What if we began to appreciate and prioritize inner beauty over outer looks? If we can do that, maybe we can support and stand up for each other and ourselves.

How Can You Be Part of the Change?

Think about how you can change the world for the better if you practiced acceptance rather than judgment, respect rather than bullying. When others see what your genuine support does for their wellbeing, it can become contagious. If you want to change the world in this way, don’t stop at just liking this post. This kind of change requires action!

You can be a big part of the conversation about the changes that we can make.

  • What do you want to see become different?
  • What part are you willing to play to make it happen?
  • Will you stop telling yourself that you’re fat or ugly?
  • Will you discuss this topic with your friends to start spreading the word?

Every little thing you do makes a big difference. We all can be a part of the revolution!

If you want to find out if the men in your dating life are trustworthy, if you can work on seeing past the exterior, and how you can improve your confidence, read my book Be Your Own Brand of Sexy. Become your own Brand of Sexy with the support and sisterhood of our community here and on Facebook.

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