As much as we would like to say we are an accepting culture, we have our moments where we fail miserably. I really don’t understand why some people feel compelled to stare at others. I can understand when children (most of them, not all), stare,because they’re curious and it’s something they’ve never seen before. There are others though,that stare just because it’s rude and they know darn well how rude it is, and do it anyhow. Someone with disabilites, or religious dress, or whatever moronic reason that goes through the vacant place where  a brain should be in their heads.

Some people make the claim that Europeans are more sophisitcated, but I’m going to have to disagree with that one. Talk about staring. Both times I was in Italy, I got gawked at as if I had two heads. It wasn’t just kids who did this, but grown adults. I had one old lady make the devil horns at me, and I was so angry I was nearly in tears. Italians are notoriously fashion-conscious; they can’t even go out for a simple walk without being perfectly coutured. They stared at me because I was a tourist and they stared at me because of my face. First time I went there, there was one trip to the beach that was just awful. A bunch of kids kep running past me, bothering me about what time it was. My mom finally caught on and sent them packing with a sharp reprimand. I spent the rest of the time with my hat over my face. I couldn’t bear to see them coming to stare at me again. It didn’t help that the month before I had surgery on my nose too, so it was pretty sore and healing. Maybe it’s a little relaxed since I’ve been there, but you don’t see many people with disabilites in public in Italy. They think it makes them look bad. Something about aesthetics. I’ll challenge any of them to prove me wrong on this.

So, back to staring. One could say that  person only deserves to get stared at because of how they dress, or their tattoos, or numerous piercings. That’s a tricky area, because in some ways, how they look IS going to draw attention. Some of them who do this do it for themsleves, regardless of the attention, because of their own personal reasons. They have osmething about themselves that is resistant to the stares, the mockery, and condemnation of others. Some people have views that ALL people who are heavily modified (as in piercings and tattoos) are dirty low-lifes and criminals. That they’re stupid, uneducated and violent. Those are stereotypes. Through participating in forums on the subject, I’ve gotten to know some of these people and for all their looks, are human beings underneath. Maybe they’re a bit more bolder than I am, strong in their convictions, but they’re also very human beings. I think some of them are very kind and loving people. And as much as they say they don’t care about the looks they get, I think it does get to them at times. There is a whole multitude of reasons why they make the choices they have, and not all of them have a deep philosophical meaning. Not every choice is a logical one, but simply because of that doesn’t necessarily make it stupid. I don’t expect to convert anyone to my way of thinking, but what I would love is that what I say here makes people THINK the next time they pass judgement on someone who doesn’t fit within the norm.

Looking different is not a crime. Being non-conformist is not criminal behavior. It means you refuse to be categorized, boxed-up and labeled as a certain type of person. Looking like the poster child for Snobercrombie & Itch does not automatically make you a wonderfully kind and generous person. Some of the most prim and properly dressed folks have come across to me as the meanest, bigoted people ever. Or people who were heavily pierced and covered in tattoos treated me with absolute kindness. The reverse is also the same. We really need to make an effort to overcome this idea that looks define a person. When you stare at someone, you reduce them to the status of a THING, something not human. You convert a person into an object to be reviled and scorned. You are saying without speaking, that the object of your staring is to be hated and condemned. I wonder about that, whenever I see people looking at me for longer than is necessary. When they look at me, are they seeing me as a human being or as a piece of garbage. I have a hard time telling myself that people look at me because they may think I’m attractive. People who have taken the time to know me find out what I’m actually like, and they can see past my looks to see the personality within. We need to overcome this obsession of judging people based on looks, because this world is becoming ever-increasingly diverse. Nothing is black and white anymore. I prefer to say that life is more like greyscale. We are all a million shades of grey when it comes to each of us. We need to learn to see the INSIDE of a person first, not just seeing the outside.

 

Advertisements