Thursday, 13 March 2014

‘Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover’- A Lost Motto?

by Zoe Dukoff-Gordon

As a society, we should be wary of making quick judgements

When I was six years old, I came home from school full of suppressed anxiety. My grandma asked me what was wrong and I told her how I didn’t want to go to school anymore as one of the older girls scared me. She asked me what she had said for me to have adopted this perception and I replied ‘She just looks scary.’ She was taller than the other girls in her year group and had short, grease-stricken hair and big, sunken eyes. My grandma told me how it was wrong to be so judgemental and that you should never have a set perception about someone until you meet them: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’

I have tried to adopt this advice to my everyday life and I was under the impression that, in general, society had to- we all know what it’s like to be judged right? It’s a universal assumption that you can’t form an opinion on something until you’ve experienced it (like trying new foods or new activities or someone until you’ve met them). However, recent media coverage on celebrities such as Miley Cyrus made me wonder; has this motto become a lost aphorism?

I’ll focus on Miley Cyrus as an example. I’m sure most of you have heard her latest, most popular songs ‘We Can Stop’ and ‘Wrecking Ball,’ and, equally, have seen her new persona and craze: ‘twerking.’ Many people may have adopted a new perception due to the evolution from Hannah Montanna. She has, in particular, been penalised for her ‘Wrecking Ball’ music video. Quote: ‘she's selling her body and it's not different because it's already been done. She's not really trying to say anything, other than trying to be some icon by taking all her clothes off and thinking it's something people are going to keep talking about – which they do, but for all the wrong reasons.’ - Holly Hawkins.

Yet are we guilty of ‘judging a book by its cover’? Is it fair to determine her as an attention seeker without truly analysing her story? ‘Let’s get something straight. You guys don’t understand my music video. So let me explain it to you. I kiss the sledge hammer to show that I secretly still love the pain. I’m naked to show how Liam destroyed me, I emotionally become ‘naked and stripped’ meaning I’m hurt on the inside. The wrecking ball symbolizes a destructive love, hence the strong title. (the wrecking ball beaks the walls and I’m left laying in the remaining of it) so instead of calling me a ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’ realize I’m trying to tell a story of love that went wrong and destroyed me emotionally.’ I’m not pro how she has expressed herself; I’m merely questioning my title; ‘Is this phrase a lost motto?’

Another, less dramatized example is an experience a friend had.

She was in Boston, America and noticed a homeless girl sitting outside Starbucks begging for money. Each person that walked past would try to ignore her or not look at her. Some women made a remark at how ‘people like that disgust me’ and that ‘she’d just use the money for drugs.’ My friend (older, in her late 40s) got her coffee and ordered a hot chocolate and a cheese Panini for the young girl. She gave it to her and sat with her for five or so minutes.

She soon learnt that the girl lived with her mother and stepfather until she was fifteen when she ran away from home and has been living in the streets for nine months. She didn’t explain why but all my friend could assume was she didn’t feel safe at ‘home.’ The girl would beg in the day and, if she got enough money, buy enough food for the day and book herself a room at a hostile for the night. She never stole, never interrupted people - just silently waited for donations. My friend was due to leave the next day so went back to her hotel and packed any toiletries from the hotel, snacks from the supermarket and a pillow and blanket in a bag which she gave to the girl the following day.

 I didn’t mean this article to be seen as emotional blackmail. Just, hopefully, to give a few readers a chance to think about our tendency, as a society, to make quick judgements.


1 comment:

  1. A good, thought-provoking article. Thank you


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