By Honey Rogoff, Opinion Editor
“A Cover Is Not the Book”-Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda; “Mary Poppins Returns.”
The girl you see wearing short sleeves and a long skirt, she wore jeans during the summer. The girl passing you in joggers and a t-shirt, she spent the summer working at a day camp in skirts and long sleeves. The unifying factor in each of these hypothetical women: They are living their own personal journeys unbeknownst to you.
Every individual is living a life full of challenges and experiences. Claiming to know any one person’s entire life journey is simply ignorant. The only person for whom we should be concerned is ourselves; to make assumptions about the way someone lives their life based on the way they dress is an ill-informed, unfair judgement. An assumption based solely on appearance is unfair to both the individual, and the assumer. To live is to change, whether voluntarily or by way of time. With change may come changes to one’s lifestyle which are not discernible by their wardrobe.
One’s personal values, their core values, cannot be assessed from a simple judgement at face value. People are more complex than what they put on their bodies. The way we express ourselves in clothing and material items may be an indicator of our personality, but it does not speak for our entire being. Even if someone does not wear the same clothes that you do, they may have the same or similar core values as you. But just by looking at them you’ve decided your values must be different, higher, because her knees are uncovered, because she wears pants. The assumption that one cannot be privy to the same knowledge or education because of the clothing one wears is just that — an assumption. It is not an educated guess or logical conclusion. A logical conclusion comes from educating oneself on the details of the topic at hand; in this case, an individual. Maybe there is a misunderstanding, maybe you cannot understand why one would dress the way they do if they knew everything you claim to. However, the way to amend this misunderstanding is by taking the time to get to know a person, and not making a snap decision on a person as a whole before you’ve given them a chance.
Modesty is one aspect of living a religious life that affects both Jewish men and women in different capacities. But modesty doesn’t stop at physical presentation, it is one’s mindset, attitude, and treating people with kindness and respect — the common human decency they deserve. There are many values that reach further than the surface, the way someone dresses should not be a reason to show disrespect. If the girl you saw wearing joggers and a t-shirt started wearing skirts, would your opinion on her as a person change? Her views, opinions, core values all may be the same, but the snap judgment made because of her outfit obscured your view of the mind and substance that makes up a person.
Everyone deserves to receive respect and common human decency unless they have proven themselves unworthy. The way someone dresses should not be near the top of the list of reasons you would disrespect someone. There are many values that reach further than the surface. What if one decided to start wearing only skirts that hit their knees at least and short sleeves at the minimum? What then? Would they be looked at differently? Would different assumptions be made? Maybe they would be regarded as someone who values the “right” things. How does what one puts around their legs affect their level of values and the standards to which they hold themselves? If you are looking at someone with a preconceived notion, you are not viewing the person for who they truly are, you are viewing them for who you expect them to be, forming an opinion before even giving the individual a chance.
A point has been made to the individual, the ones trying to navigate through a judgmental room, through critical eyes. I am reaching out directly to those critical eyes and asking them to close for a moment and listen. Do not judge before you have not only heard, but truly listened to the individual — their story. It may not be what your eyes perceive.