As a fresh student just admitted into campus, I had experienced difficulty finding my way around on the first day. For fifteen minutes, I stood gazing at the giant campus map trying to locate the science faculty; I had never been more confused. It was amidst my confusion that a gentle man noticed my plight and asked if I needed help. I told him my predicament, and he told me that the faculty was straight ahead and it was just a three minutes walk from my present location. I thanked him for the advice. 

A moment later, another man standing nearby who overheard the conversation came closer and said the science faculty was actually a ten minutes walk down the right. I thanked him and I started walking just like he told me to, completely ignoring the first guy’s advice. But then I paused for a moment; why did I choose to listen to one person and not the other? What was the difference between the two guys? As I walked on, I realized instantly why I chose to listen to one over the other. The second man was dressed corporately, while the first guy was clad in a sagged ripped jean and even wore a nose ring; I could not bring myself to trust the opinion of a guy that was dressed so shabbily. 

At that point, it occurred to me that I had just judged a book by its cover. I didn’t mean to make this judgment. The many pre-conceived notions, beliefs and stereotypes that had been carved into my own assumptions of other people, as a result of the several years of social conditioning, was at work. My decision making went auto pilot, my subconscious mind took over the process. 

I believe that every single person should be treated differently. People should respect one another irrespective of individual appearances. We should not be so judgmental and make negative conclusions about people just because of the preconceived idea we have of the cloth they are wearing. However, we live in a world where appearance is everything. Even though appearance can be so deceiving, and most of the time because of it we make wrong assumptions about people, but then, it is no longer a question of what it should be, but rather, what it is.

We live in a world where we are always judged by our appearances more than any other thing. So whether we are interacting with people, or building relationships, our clothing is always communicating; they create first impressions, they send messages long before we say a word. Therefore the way we dress matters. When you dress and carry yourself in a positive manner, people will tend to have positive opinions and perceptions about you, but when you’re dressed negatively, you might get the opposite. 

We meet and interact with different people every day; from the young man that is a pastor because he wears a baggy shirt and a fat tie, to the lady who is a slay queen just because she is dressed In an outfit we consider too tight or skimpy. The clothes people wear speaks volume about them, it subconsciously tells us if we should stay away from a person or not, if they are like us or different. It determines whether we’ll listen to them or ignore, if we’ll trust them or not. Whether we agree or not, that is how we are. We have all been conditioned to judge books by their covers. Even though I would have loved to advice dressing the way we want since we are all unique individuals. But I’d rather not, because whether we like it or not appearance still matters. It creates impressions about us.  

The human brain process visual details instantaneously and make millisecond judgments based on this information. It happens without us even knowing. We may feel that a particular person we just met for the first time is dangerous, or that we do not seem to trust a person and not even know why. This feeling is called “first impression”— the way we dress creates this impression long before we say a word, and it is how we continually judge books by their covers.  

So should we judge people by what they wear? No, we should not. Even though appearances create impressions because of the ideas we have had of the clothes people wear, we should not let them define their personalities. People should get to know each other before drawing conclusions. We should learn to look beyond the clothing, because everyone has their own taste and opinions; some people choose to wear clothes that are in vogue while others just wear what makes them comfortable. So we should not judge people based on what they decide to wear, because appearance can be very deceiving. 

However, one thing we should always have in mind is that appearance creates impressions. Therefore, it is important that we always dress as we would want to be addressed, because whether we judge people or not, we will definitely get judged based on what we wear. People will continue to address others by their dressing. This is the world we are in now. We need an improvement to this instinct of the degenerating humanity, but it will take too much time, and too many people will definitely still get judged, intimidated, marginalized, discriminated and isolated because of their choice of clothing. 


About the writer

Olutayo Inioluwa Emmanuel, a final year student of Obafemi Awolowo University.wrote in via


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