I’m in a business class and we’re discussing job interviews. One of the students raises his hand and says, “It’s not fair. I’ve got great grades and I’m a hard worker, but as soon as I walk into an interview I know I don’t have a shot, all because of my hair.”
He was right. Why? He had Jon Bon Jovi hair. No, not the cool stylings of the present day Bon Jovi. This was the Eighties, people. His tresses looked like a teased out poodle with twenty-inch long hair extensions had exploded on his head.
Anyway, the teacher looked at the guy and said, “Why don’t you just cut your hair?”
He said, “Because it’s me. Why can’t people just look passed it to see the kind of guy I am?”
Then the teacher said, “If people have to look passed your hair to see the real you, then maybe your hair really isn’t ‘you.’”
Long story short: the kid cut his hair and landed a job soon afterward. Ain’t it sweet when things wrap up so easily?
You know, we keep being told ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’? Still, we do it all the time. Why? Maybe because we can make certain judgements based on one’s appearance. After all, the way people dress reflects who they are, right? Just go through any high school in the U.S. and it's not too tough to point out the jocks, goths, preps, nerds and stoners pretty easily. As for the Eighties? I've got to tell you, even back then a guy with Bon Jovi hair would not have been pegged as a smart, hard working Business major. Looks like this case is closed.
Though sometimes the way people dress reflects who they are, sometimes it just doesn't. Some people hide behind their clothes as if they were wearing a mask. Others feel pressure to blend in and wear clothes for approval. Others just wear what's hanging in the closet without care for what message they're sending.
Isn't it funny how what one person feels totally comfortable wearing can make someone else feel totally uncomfortable? I still remember when Laura Ashley dresses were popular in the Eighties. If you don't know what one looked like back then, here's a 'vintage’ one available on eBay:
When I wore it I felt like a moron.
Not that I didn’t look good. The dress was beautiful and I had all the proper accessories. But it wasn’t me. What many considered comfortable, I considered a costume. Even though I blended in, I felt like I stood out.
But back to the whole 'job' thing. Let's say there are two girls. One is wearing sweats, gym shoes, and the whole ponytail-with-a-rubber-band-around-the-head thing. Another is wearing a black leather jacket, matching lipstick, and a nose ring. If I needed someone to help me with an after school fitness program for kids, who do you think I'd hire first? For all I know, the goth chick is an awesome athlete and great with kids, but she sure not dressed for the part.
If you want a certain job you’ve got to dress for it. That's always been the case. We don’t see a lot of accountants running around in kimonos and bamboo flip flops, do we? Still, what about that lone accountant who really wants to wear one? What if wearing a kimono reflects who he or she really is?
I don’t know if I have any real answers here. I just know if you want to be taken seriously, you’ve got to dress that way. When it comes to work -- heck, when it comes to life -- sometimes you’re required to wear a costume. It sucks, but it's true.
So judging a book by it's cover? We have to recognize that people do it every day. As for how we use this information, that's up to the individual.
So take a look at yourself right now. I'm curious. Does what you’re wearing reflect the real you? If it does, how? If it doesn’t, why?
Just a point to ponder.