First impressions - does your style define you?

We all grow up being told ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and we try so hard not to… yet we do. Our biases are so deeply ingrained in our being that at the very ripe age of 23 we think of ourselves as experienced critics, who wouldn’t give a person more than 5 seconds of our time. Their shirt doesn’t look alternative enough, or God forbid they look basic. Apparently by the look of someone’s tote bag we know their hobbies, interests, how many times a day they brush their teeth and how much their mom loves them. Stereotyping and labeling people is a part of our being, it’s the human experience. If we struggle with figuring out someone, putting them in a box, the little voice inside our head gnaws at us to reach a conclusion on who exactly we are looking at. It is a primal instinct in a sense, the unknown scares us, is it friend or foe? Well, contemporary living is far away from that narrative, but you get what I mean.

I have been labelled and stereotyped all my life. So last week I decided to have a little experiment – approach students who don’t know me and ask them to judge me solely based on my appearance, more-so my outfit & style. It was a… refreshing experience. When strangers perceive you for the first time, you have the freedom to be whoever you want to be. At least for a few minutes. But did any of my fellow students actually manage to figure out my hobbies, my most listened to Spotify artist (it is not Lana del Rey) or my dominant personality traits? Meh. Not really. But that is not the important part. Even if they did, what’s the use? None of these people know me. Point is, it’s quite impossible to ‘figure out’ a person just by looking at their clothes. And the people who believe they can – you guys don’t cease to amaze me. So, in today’s hot takes, I decided I’m going to play the Uno reverse card and categorize the types of ‘stereotypers’ themselves. From the ones that are blunt, and straightforwardly ignorant to the passive-aggressive aunt types at the family function (who are probably devoted Christians and pray for your soul, because they saw your butterfly ankle tattoo).

I have decided to attribute a fitting name to every judgmental type on this list, or as commonly referred to – create a persona representing the target group. Let’s begin with our first character:

  1. Howie

Howie is the nerdy kid in your high school, that won all the spelling-bee awards and doesn’t miss a chance to brag about it in every conversation possible. He was most likely raised in a conservative family and/or spent an excessive amount of time on Reddit, reading about why women exist only to be good wives and mothers and should be modest & kind all the time. Howie is not afraid to speak out his mind & be confrontational, especially when he sees some cleavage or a tight-fitting pair of jeans. He would approach you and rhetorically ask you if you can recite verse 13 from the bible, answering the question himself - which is no, of course. Followed by shaming you for being such an ‘easy’ woman and ending with calling you stupid in one way or another.

Howie is the type of ‘stereotyper’, who thinks that because you like to show some skin, you must be absolutely absent-minded. He is one of my favorite personas, because his opinion is so absurd, that I am always eager to meet people like him in real life, just to put them in their place. The correlation between loving your body and embracing it & being stupid will never make sense in my head.

2. Jacklyn

Jacklyn is your aunt, who has always been very distant with the whole family, but for some reason hasn’t missed attending a relative function in the last 10 years. She is a devoted Christian and thinks that tattoos, piercings and colouring your hair is a sin. She still talks to you though. The two hours you are having dinner together she stares you up and down with a hint of disgust but forces herself to talk to you. God knows why. Whenever she thinks you are not around, she drops comments to whoever is sitting in proximity to her, such as ‘Thank God we never went abroad, or we might’ve returned with permanent scribbles on our bodies too.’ Jacklyn thinks you have sold your soul to the devil, because you put a needle in your nose once, and has ‘secretly’ forbidden her children to talk to you. She thinks you are not in any way a decent person, and thinks your parents failed to raise you right, appointing that statement to your purple hair.

I will be forever grateful that I don’t have a Jacklyn in my family. Some people think that her alikes should be excused, just because their beliefs are settled in religion and that should be respected. Even though that might be the case, it doesn’t give them the excuse to be judgemental c*nts.

3. Moon

Moon is the goth-girlie that hates pick me girls and basic b*tches, because she thinks they are superficial and don’t think about the deeper meaning of life enough. She cannot stand looking at people who do Pilates and wear sport attire, nor at colorful clothing, because as you might not know by the description in her bio – her wardrobe is as black as her soul. Moon’s whole personality is listening to ‘Korn’ and shopping for ‘goth’ clothes online (predominantly from ‘Shein’), but she will never miss an opportunity to bring another girl down, because she is wearing a tank top from H&M. Funnily enough, whenever she doesn’t talk about her alternative style and music taste, Moon has the personality of a peanut.

Without a doubt we have all met someone like Moon, although most of the time we don’t say anything, because we fear being labelled as judgmental ourselves.  Most of these girls are reformed ‘basic girls’ & are trying to project their insecurities onto other people, who are actually at peace with who they are and how they look. I wish for the people who are like Moon to do some journaling and figure out a healthier way to deal with their issues.

4. Jake

Jake is kind of like the male version of Moon. Let me give you an example of what his day-to-day routine looks like: he wakes up, puts on some Carhartt pants, and meets up with his friends at the skate park to smoke weed and practice his skills. He doesn’t stop talking about the new streetwear shop that opened in his village, where a T-shirt costs around 60 bucks, but it’s just because it’s a collaboration with an indie local brand. Jake likes to talk sh*t about practically anyone who doesn’t look exactly like him and doesn’t hang out at the only two bars in the city where the vibes are ‘chill’ (what the f*ck does that even mean). If you’ve encountered a wild Jake, you know that if you are not wearing Volcom, Obey or Vans, then you know he would not say more than 3 words to you. He is quick with his judgement of you and doesn’t want to waste his time – he needs to protect his peace! Since, if I haven’t mentioned already, he is so down to earth and chill.

I know a lot of Jakes, but they don’t really know me. Guess why that is?

5. Hailey

Hailey watched Gossip girl when she was 12 and has re-watched Sex and the city multiple times the past few years. Unfortunately, she decided the characters she relates to the most are the most obnoxious, spoiled and entitled ones. You will find Hailey in a club every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, spending around half of her day to get ready to actually go out. She also thinks she might be the reincarnation of Carrie Bradshaw because she wears heels at the club. When she finally does go out, she takes around a hundred pictures and heads home. She is the girlie who will very obviously look at you with disgust when she sees that you are wearing sneakers in the club. She quickly comes to the conclusion that you were raised by wolves and don’t have your sh*t together. Extra points if none of your clothes are either from Miu Miu or Diesel. Hailey will make sure all her friends know that you are an embarrassment to the high-end club you both find yourself at and will probably post it on her close friends’ story too.

Hailey’s have always been and will always be. Mean girls are unavoidable, but I would love it if they actually had a personality beyond appearances.

6. Oscar

Oscar is the ultimate ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ fan. He has watched more than 16 seasons of the show and has potentially brainwashed himself into thinking that people in real life can be as stylish as the drag queens he sees on screen, who have spent years of their life mastering their craft. Oscar will never think you look good enough but will tell you something like ‘You’re giving!’. He is straight up Regina George and thinks it’s a cute personality trait. If your hair isn’t done and your make up is blotchy, then consider yourself written off from his list. Oscar only hangs out with hot people, or at least what he considers hot.

If you’ve ever encountered an Oscar, then you either got your sh*t together after his ‘feedback’ or cried for 3 hours straight.  

People will never cease to judge your appearance, no matter how perfect you might look. You will always be put in a box because that is how the human brain works. Nonetheless, you can always strive to be a better version of yourself. It is a cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. We never know what another person is going through, or how much our comments might affect them. You know, we were all naked when we came into this world, so to be fully honest, clothes don’t matter that much if you think about it. First impressions are important, but they are not final. At the end of the day, you should do you and if that makes you satisfied – then all's good.

Stay tuned for Dima’s Hot Takes, 3rd edition. Until next Thursday, toodles.