Judging by appearance: Do 'faithful' Catholics really avoid this?

Okay this is an obvious rant but please understand that my patience on the subject has really grown thin.

Honestly, when I read some of the things people say here, I really gotta wonder if the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has really lost its place in Catholic Christian morality.

For instance, take a person’s dress.

“Oh look she’s wearing a mini-skirt and sleeveless. She must be a harlot! :tsktsk:”
“Oh look he’s wearing a hoodie and baggy pants. He must be a gangsta! :eek:”
“Oh look they’re wearing tattoos! They must be ex-cons! :bigyikes:”

You know if you’re going to criticize someone, the least you could do is base your criticism on something just a little higher than what they wear and what they look like. Some people here have even gone as far to claim they experience a sort of “spiritual willies” when they see something that doesn’t conform to their aesthetic comfort. (“Oh dear, he wears eye-shadow and she dyes her hair purple. I feel the presence of Satan! D:”) Good Lord. Excuses much? I think it’s high time people started taking more responsibility for their psychological aversions instead of putting them up on the mystical pedestal.

Since when has something so base and superficial as appearance become a norm for evaluating someone’s worth? Has it ever occurred to anybody that the there is no logical link between a person’s aesthetic appearance and something more worthy of evaluation (e.g. actions, behavior).

All throughout my life, I have met my fair share of repulsive and heartless individuals. But guess what? Your jaw would drop when you see how these people covered a vast range of fashions and attire. During my last year in highschool, I was bullied by a wannabe gangsta rapper who wore large jerseys, bling and everything. Likewise, in 6th grade, I had the most unfeeling, tyrannical, and could-not-care-less fundie teacher but would you believe that the clothes she wore were something the pro-modesty party would hail?

These two examples taken from my life both looked very different from each other. But at the core, their hearts were an equal shade of black. They made my life miserable. They made other people’s lives miserable.

Hence, I really can’t believe some people would still insist that appearances means something significant beyond self-decoration.

This doesn’t even apply to just a person’s choice of dress. I find the same problematic people having the same problematic logic regarding names, symbols, and even stuff like mythology for crying out loud.

“He’s named Hercules!? PAGAAAN!! DX”
“His story has a good dragon? WORK OF THE DEVIIIL!!! DX”
“That card has a pentagram? SATANIIIIIX!!! DX”

Now I know someone might argue that appearance can reflect a person but this still is very, very insufficient ground for making a conclusion regarding other people. What am I talking about? Just because you think you know what’s on a person’s mind regarding their attire, does not make it the same as actually knowing. It does not take out the possibility that you could be wrong.

Believe me, I’ve been wrong plenty times and and there were times when even actions and behavior weren’t enough to give me a good conclusion about a person. How much worse if I had based only on their appearance? :rolleyes:

I agree with your post and have found it somewhat disheartening by what I see as well. Some posts I have started to comment on and have actually deleted my response to avoid the continuation of any negativity. The Muslim boyfriend post being one example.

As someone responded on one of the posts, if I had run across these forums before I swam the Tiber I would be hesitant to do so because this is what I would think that all Catholics were like. Posts are judgmental and more often than not devolve into hostilities. I come here to learn more about the faith and what issues people are having so as to either help or learn from like minded people, but instead I see blind ignorance(not from everyone mind you). We, as Catholics and Christians, are supposed to be open minded, civil and loving. Sorry, added a rant to yours and veered off course a tad.

Since when is appearance “base and superficial”?

I avoid judging anyone’s character based on what they wear, and what they look like, but I do not avoid judging taste, discretion, or general awareness of norms and proper behavior based on appearance. You’d be a fool not to make such judgements, or as like to call them, “determinations.”

Judging by appearances can also be used on a large scale, and not a small scale, and be more appropriate for it. For instance, if you parish consist mostly of 2 or 3 person families, there is a strong likelihood that ABC is being used, and since a large percentage of Catholic couples use ABC, you’d probably be right! Now, if you looked at one specific family of 3, and said “that family is small, they must be using ABC!” you’d probably be wrong, or at least unfair and judgmental in your assessment. There could be many reasons why one particular family is small, and you can’t be sure of what those reasons might be. But determinations are made based on more than one “case”, just nobody chooses NOT to buy a product because of 1 bad review out of 1000 good reviews.

As Catholics, we should all strive to think positively about those around us, and especially to consider how we appear to others. If we make judgements about other people, and then become angry when those same judgments are applied to us, we become hypocrites, and get our own deserved punishment.

The folks you describe, minus maybe the older (regretfully) tattooed crowd, I have found generally like it when they are judged on their appearance and are happy to judge anyone judging them. I (still proud to be tattoo-free) certainly used to.

It’s called “immaturity”.


I agree with your entire post. Here’s the unfortunate thing… this superficial judging of people has been around for quite a while. It’s not new. I was raised to not judge by appearances. By not doing that, I have met wonderful and beautiful people who I might have passed over based on the way they dressed, did their hair, placed on their skin, etc. That said, I’ve also met some unsavory characters, too. BUT, to me, the real con is when the people who outwardly look like the “right” kind of people are sometimes completely the “wrong” kind of people. It was a good lesson learned school.

I was and still am a loner, partly because I was turned off at a young age by how superficial people were and how you were expected to “fit in” within their categories of what was good and what wasn’t. Because I and my siblings were the rare birds - we were racially mixed - we didn’t fit in anywhere and labeled as such within many aspects of our lives. On top of that, I was (still am) a complete dork, was considered a “brain”, was very contemplative about everything around me - strikes against me, although I didn’t really care. Our strength was our parents who instilled a mental fortitude and an individual spirit, to be content with who we were and to not care about what other people thought of us. I’m very thankful to them for that.

Funny thing is I remember looking forward to college and the “real” world to get away from the superficiality and high school mentality, only to learn that many people still think and act like that waaayyyy into adulthood. The good thing, though, is that you also end up finding many more people who also don’t get into that superficiality as you go through life. That gave me hope and made me very optimistic about humans, in general. (I was a much darker, more serious person as a youth - another reason why most of my contemporaries didn’t understand me.)

In regards to some of the judgementalism and self-righteousness that is posted on some of these threads, my first reaction is to write. But then I realize that by doing so on a forum, I would be giving credence to what the writer has posted since I’m paying attention to it or am feeding a negativity within a debate which should be abated rather than stoked. Most of the time I don’t think it’s worth it. Once in a while I think it is. I also have to stop and think if this was actually the person’s intent and that’s very important to me. Sometimes we don’t always get our thoughts across as well as we think or like. I’ve done that myself, so I try to give that person the benefit of the doubt. On top of that, I don’t really know these people as this is only on the internet, so I like to think that they are better people in real life and that this is just a part of them. In real life, though, if I see someone being treated wrongly, I won’t hesitate to say omething if needed because I don’t ever like seeing or hearing about someone being hurt in any way. But I always try to think before I speak - not always successful, but I do my best.

Generalzing is not a good idea (in general) :smiley:
While I do agree it’s important to give respect to any and every one we meet, our outward appearance is in most cases within our own control. We adorn ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to us in most cases, but there are those who are using their appearance to make a statement, garner attention or sometimes to mutilate themselves in such a way as to be most unpleasant to look at. While I agree it is not good to judge, I have found myself steering clear of people who have availed themselves of brads, studs, rings and hoops placed in some pretty outlandish places. Call me crazy, but I take from their appearance a message - and not in a good way.
By the same token, just because someone dresses impeccably , there is no automatic judgement rendered either. However, a person’s choices in presentation or grooming generally will create an environment or give a signal to others about their own self image.

You need to separate “taste” from “norms and proper behavior”. Taste deals with the aesthetic and the aesthetic is relative. It has ultimately no moral value or imperative. You don’t think people go to hell for favoring the color black as a good color now do you? I didn’t think so. Norms and behavior on the other hand involve action and that is where morality is present. Morality involves action. It does not bother itself with petty details such as sound, shape, or color.

Wrong. You’re basing your evaluation on statistics you have already previously obtained and even in this case, you still have a fair chance of being wrong. Your example is too ideal for one thing. I mean how can you even know that the huge crowd you’re looking at is actually a set of “2 or 3 person families”? Unless you live in a really small town with a really small parish (where everyone knows everyone else), I’m afraid your argument here is just not valid in any way.

Simply put, you are already basing your observation on previously obtained data (not purely aesthetic “determinations”) and even so, such data is not even sufficient in determining that the entire crowd that assembles at your local church is made up of small families.

Not that I entirely disagree but I just have a problem with how far some people consider how they appear to others to really high and really bad degree. I mean I dress up with a hoodie and baggy cargoes because I want people to see what a real person often playing the mage-type characters in role-playing games looks like. (You see aside from pointy hats, mages are also characterized by hoods and carrying around lots of small equipment that they just seem to pull out from their baggy robes). Obviously though, not everyone is going to see it that way. Do I care? No. In the end, does it really matter? Definitely, no.

I hate to break it to you but taking a message you assumed from their appearance is by default, already jumping to conclusion because you acted as your assumption was true.

Sorry, but that’s just not very nice to steer clear of someone just because of what they look like. What you did was no different from a fundamentalist steering clear of anyone holding a Rosary or even worse, a snotty cheerleader avoiding every single dude holding a big book and wears glasses.

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