I judge people based on their looks. I stereotype them, put them in boxes, put words in their mouths before I even get a chance to speak to them. I do this on a daily basis—from my daily commute up until my long walk from South Gate to my classrooms in Miguel.
I hate that I do it.
But, however a weak of an excuse this is, I can’t help myself.
I grew up in a community that emphasized looks over talent, skill, and knowledge. Looks are the first thing you need to get you far. As a morena, I have been “slept on” a lot of times, underestimated because my skin is not as fair as what people want it to be. The same people who judge me because of my abundance in melanin, then, candidly suggest that I start loving myself, that I should look at my skin as an asset, something unique. However, the minute I begin professing my love for my own, I am struck down, I am overcompensating for the love that others cannot give me.
This kind of cycle doesn’t only happen to me. I have heard a lot of stories about people being judged because of how they look, and apparently, this happens on a much bigger scale as well.
Xander Ford is the perfect example.
When he was still Marlou, numerous people made him a laughingstock. He became the vernacular definition of people’s understanding of ugly. He was deemed unattractive and undesirable. Looks took him far, indeed, as far as deciding to completely re-do his whole identity.
I was one of those people who would see his “unattractive” face in memes, laugh a bit, then scroll down. I haven’t given Marlou much thought until he announced his new identity – that’s when I realized that he chose the pain of needles, injections, and implants rather than take the pain of the harsh words that tell him he’s a creature gone wrong or that he’s not even human.
Never think for a moment that Xander Ford wanted himself to be put up there to be scrutinized and judged harshly. In his search for acceptance, in his innocent way of sharing his talent, we, a society that places such pride in looks, shot him down, stripping him of his physical and psychological integrity – so much so that he opted to change his whole being, just so he can satisfy all of us.
Then we turn on him, laughing at him for succumbing to that pressure. We judge him, yet again, for doing what he thinks will make people lay off of him.
His decision is just one of the many instances of how harsh words can push people to change for others. The words we say cut deep – despite us never seeing the wounds they make.
It’s hard to grow up and to have internalized thoughts about people who don’t fit the mold of what people consider as beautiful. We are quick to point out flaws, pick them out, and make them extremely stand out to the detriment of the person who must live with those flaws. It’s hard to get out of that mind set because we’ve been raised with it.
It took me a long time to accept that people are not made in factories and those who don’t fit the standard of beauty are not just factory defects. It takes a lot of re-learning to accept that beauty is not something that will make you a good human being. It takes a lot of will to extract myself from my judgement of other people.
It takes a lot of time to look back at all the instances I have been made fun of, it takes more time to make my thoughts reflexive.
Do I want to perpetuate that cycle of valuing skin tone over ability, body fat over capabilities, looks over humanity?
I judge people based on their looks. I hate that I do it.
I hope that I stop soon.