First impressions happen; it is an inconvenient reality. When we meet someone for the first time, we judge him or her involuntarily, maybe driven by our survival instinct or simple social practice. Fifty-percent of that judgment is a perception of the person’s movements, gestures, voice, etc. The rest is simple: their appearance.
Pop culture is evidence of this social pattern. Let’s take, for example, the acclaimed 90s cult movie, “10 Things I Hate About You.” Its evident connection to the Shakespearean play, The Taming of The Shrew, refers to strong characters and the way they follow stereotypes and, even more, break them. Patrick Verona, a mysterious teenager, is charmingly played by the legendary, Heath Ledger. His dark exterior left the whole school wondering about his apparent dangerous personality.
His subtle sarcastic comebacks, long black hair and overly washed jeans complemented his careless and slightly criminal personality, making him troublesome at a single glance. After a bet, a rose, a sincere apology and a charismatic performance, we meet the real Patrick with his same washed jeans, dark shirts and combat boots.
Now the difficult teenager becomes more attractive, his Australian accent more evident and each eloquent response makes him even more interesting. In the end - spoiler alert - the unconventional leading man gets the feminist, Sylvia Plath enthusiast, Kat. He lets his armor down, and we see the rebirth of a sentimental, masculine, green-eyed gentleman.
The development of this character takes me back to real life. What happens when, at first, we find someone difficult or off-putting and, with time, we discover they are actually quite warm. Does perception change with style? Maybe, when we get to understand someone’s personality along with their fashion choices, our judgment fades away and we let them wear whatever they want. We allow them to be who they are, freely. In some way we like the person no matter what they are wearing.
Surpassing fashion or social rules, in the end, personality is what remains because fashion is as personal as Whatsapp messages or the meaning of our emotional tattoos. A smile surpasses a bad haircut, a black and brown outfit, and of course a denim low-rise mini skirt…well, that might take a little bit more time.
In the end, Kat Stratford closed her poem to Patrick, “I hate you. I hate your combat boots. But mostly, I hate the way I don’t hate you, not a even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.”
We sure hope that when people judge us, they love our fashion choices for who we are. The little weird details of our personalities are what set us apart. There’s no perfection, just willingness to appreciate the uniqueness in everyone.
Top Photo Courtesy: Tumblr