Today’s columnist, Emily Searle: Don’t judge a book by its cover until you’ve seen contents

2014 Whitby Goth weekend. Kezia Lovell and Poppy Cummins enjoy the day.Pic Richard Ponter
2014 Whitby Goth weekend. Kezia Lovell and Poppy Cummins enjoy the day.Pic Richard Ponter
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You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so why do people judge others by the way that they dress?

I would like to think that young people are judged on their attitude and not the clothes that they wear, but that simply isn’t the case.

So why do we feel that a person’s taste in fashion expresses a certain attitude?

Not all young people change their clothes to suit the way they feel that they ‘should’ look, for instance you wouldn’t put on a leather jacket to look ‘tough,’ and then change into a plain jumper and jeans to look ‘normal.’

Normal is such a broad term and varies from person to person, culture to culture. I don’t understand why this is now the term to describe a ‘perfect person’ .

The word ‘normal’ always crops up in conversations relating to a person’s attitude, for instance: “Why can’t they dress normal?” or “Why doesn’t she act normal?”

But normal is so many different things to different people. I feel that using the word normal sets a standard that triggers discrimination.

International Day against Intolerance, Discrimination and Violence Based on Musical Preferences, Lifestyle and Dress Code was set up in 2007, following an attack on a young teenage couple because they dressed in ‘gothic’ fashion. Sophie Lancaster later died as a result of her wounds. The awareness day seeks to raise awareness of attention to discrimination in all forms in the hopes of preventing future tragedies.

Just because someone dresses differently to you and isn’t what you would consider to be ‘normal’ may cause discomfort, but should never cause tension.

Research by youth charity Rathbone found 56 per cent of the teenage girls who took part in the survey were abused verbally, physically or online because of their weight, height or hair colour.

I believe there is a clear connection between appearance, clothes and prejudice. I’m sure a teenage boy wearing Hollister clothes and designer shoes would be accepted and viewed as ‘normal,’ but if he wore a checked shirt, had pens in his pocket and wore glasses, he would be dismissed as a ‘nerd.’

People should not make assumptions based on a person’s appearance or clothes, like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Every young person is like a book, you never really know their content until you give them a try and familiarise yourself with them.

* Emily Searle, Sheffield young advisor, aged 18.