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Thread: Respect vs appearance

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    Flashaholic* flownosaj's Avatar
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    Default Respect vs appearance

    You know, I realized something really important yesterday; people really do judge you based on what you look like. This time it's not color of skin or physical appearance, but what you wear.


    Other than nurses, the three main sets of people you see in the hospital are doctors, admin and housekeeping. Doctors wear their labcoats over scrubs most of the time or wear professional business attire. Administration wear business casual. Housekeeping staff wear a maroon color scrub.

    From a distance, all our ID's look the same and nobody seems to ever look at titles.


    Most of the time I look like a nurse and get treated as such--no problem, I fit in.

    Now, I've found that when I'm cold and wear a labcoat in the evening (which is rare), I get a lot of attention from people who don't know me. I hear many "good evenings" or good mornings as I'm walking down the hall or at least get an acknowledgement whereas I normally would pass with little ado. When I walk into a patient's room for the first time, everyone becomes quiet or hangs up the phone while they would normally keep talking or cut the chatter to a minimum.

    The funny thing is even though I tell people I will be their "Registered Nurse for this evening" they still call me "doctor" as long as I have that coat on. I also overhear the patients tell the aids that 'the doctor was just in here' [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ohgeez.gif[/img]


    Now, the other day I wore a dark red color scrub set that looked very similar to the housekeeping staff's. I can't believe how people in the hospital (staff mostly) treated me in comparison. It was almost like I was a ghost--nobody said "hi", nobody made eye contact. Someone even sneezed, I said "bless you" and they just walked right past.



    I think its odd that just a simple thing such as an article of clothing can dictate how people tend to treat you.
    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sick2.gif[/img]

    *update: thread title fixed*

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Very interesting post, although not surprising unfortunatly...

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    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Interesting observation, Jason. I have to admit that I've noticed that also. Conversely, I try to make a point of saying good morning or whatever to the housekeeping staff to try to combat this problem. There's one woman in particular who's not accustomed to being acknowledged when she's around (very sad) so she always looks a little startled when I say hello to her! Sometimes she mumbles something back, sometimes not...
    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Oh yeah. Its way deeper than just white or black or the color of your skin. I know when I first started using a wheelchair as a white guy I would easily embarrous myself in front of others. Not only dropping stuff, but body functions too and spasms. Almost every one of those actions was followed by laughter and no assistance when I would try to pick up what I dropped. When I grew out my hair and beard that quit. I could drop stuff and folks would help me pick it up. Body function noises were ignored than laughed at. I was called Mr or Sir than some name the last person they met in a wheelchair was called. All that for just growing some hair?

    Yup, amazing huh?

  5. #5
    *Retired* NewBie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    [ QUOTE ]
    flownosaj said:
    I think its odd that just a simple thing such as an article of clothing can dictate how people tend to treat you.
    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sick2.gif[/img]

    [/ QUOTE ]


    I remember in small towns when everyone said hi, while looking in you eyes and often shook hands. If your car broke down, several folks would stop to help out.

    When I was in Chicago, I would often stop and help folks, sometimes changing their tires for them, or whatever, even if I was in my Marine uniform. You should have seen the looks on folks faces. Would you believe people actually tried to pay me? I always refused payment, but one guy actually shoved a wad of cash inside my shirt...all I could do at that point was to say thanks.

    Anyhow...

    Today, your value is based on your station in life, and your clothes indicate your station. People in high station don't recognize folks in lower stations. Pretty selfish and ungrateful, imho.

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    *Flashaholic* bwaites's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Reminds of the college ethics class where the professor had spent a whole semester trying to impress the importance of the individual on his classes.

    His final consisted of one question:

    "In the hall outside this room a housekeeper has been cleaning the floor each morning when you came to class, what is her name?"

    Nobody passed!

    Bill

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    This is why I love camping...

    It is amazing that after a week in the wilds, everyone looks (and smells) about the same...

    Tom

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    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I spent a month in a wheelchair back in the early 90s. I was amazed at how differently I was treated because of it. Some people acted as if I was completely invisible, actually talking around me to others in the room.

    It taught me that people simply don't know how to respond, so they just avoid the issue altogether rather than risk embarrassing themselves. I believe this was one of those cases where a little bit of education would've gone a long way. They didn't do it to be mean; they just didn't know what to do (which was simply to not worry about it and carry on a normal conversation with the individual in the chair).

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    bwaites, my public speaking prof was like that. At the start we had to get 4 names and numbers of other students in the classroom. The last test required that information. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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    *Retired* The_LED_Museum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I usually get a decent amount of respect, or at very least, no disrespect, about myself or my attire.

    My typical attire when leaving the house in my electric wheelchair is an Anthrax, Metallica, or Raven T-shirt (all three names mentioned are those of heavy metal bands), a pair of sweatpants or a pair of shorts, and a pair of sandals ("flip-flops").

    The most frequent comment I receive is about the stuffed digimon on the back of my wheelchair (a large Augumon, Patamon, and Gabumon), followed by comments about the Light Cannon 100 HID and the Trek 400 EX-40 flashlights I use as headlamps on the front of my chair. Every once in a great while, I receive a positive comment about the band T-shirt; but those comments are relatively rare - once every couple of months or so.

    Nothing bad to report in this thread.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Well ... what would you expect in sicieties where success in the job / money is considered the most important thing?
    Our societies are based on that principle, and so, logically, we use indicators of this status (certain clothes, badges, etc.) to judge an unknown person following our criteria.
    Calll it what you like, but we are about success and status ... the individual comes second at best. Expecting a different behaviour isn't realistic IMHO.

    bernhard

    disclaimer: I did not say I liked this situation

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    i get treated quite differently when i wear my usual baggy and punkish clothing than when i wear something semi-dressy or business-casualish.

    i guess i'm pretty used to it now. this post is an unfortunate reminder. when will everyone get their acts straight and revive respect?

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    Flashaholic* MaxaBaker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Really is sad [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Respect vs appearance

    flownosaj: On one occasion, when I was returning from a business trip (I was at a conference), I had difficulty getting through a metal detector because of my leather jacket, of all things. Security made me run it through the X-ray machine. Unbeknownst to me, it got grease on it from the X-ray machine's belt. This grease quickly got on my khakis. So there I am, all neat and pressed, dressed in business casual attire, with a couple of streaks of grease on my pants. The older married couple that I was forced to sit next to on the plane acted as if I was carrying a contagious disease. They audibly spoke about me to each other, and the woman (who was in the seat next to me) tried to slide as far away from me as possible in her seat. I am amused by the memory, but I am still not sure if this was sad or funny. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    Newbie: I grew up in a small to mid-size town in the middle of PA, and when I moved much closer to Philly, I was shocked at the difference in the way that people would treat one another. I quickly learned that it was rather rare for someone to help someone that they did not know, but I also learned one night (putting gas in my car while on crutches) that this might be partially, but not entirely, due to the fear of the unknown. Sorry for the super long post.

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    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    [ QUOTE ]
    The_LED_Museum said:
    I usually get a decent amount of respect, or at very least, no disrespect, about myself or my attire.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    Glad to hear you're not getting any shtuff from people, Craig. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  16. #16

    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I went on a trip to Washington, D.C. with my temple confirmation class. On one part of the trip, we went to McPherson's Square, and we had to talk to the homeless people that were there. It was amazing the difference between what you expect them to be, and how they actually turn out to be. Some of them were quite intelligent and had a good sense of humor. One of them even used to be a professional football player.

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    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    That reminds me of an interesting incident -

    We were visiting Phoenix several years ago and at one point we found ourselves standing on the sidewalk wondering how to get from point-A to point-B on our trip. Behind us, sitting on the sidewalk, was a young woman in ragged looking clothes, her caucasian skin cooked a very dark bronze from being in the sun for far too many days, looking like a typical homeless person. She wasn't badgering anyone for money, but we were still a little cautious because we didn't know what to expect based on her appearance.

    But as we wondered out loud how to find our destination, she overheard us and spoke up in the most eloquent voice, offering us an exquisitely detailed set of driving instructions. She really floored us with her intelligence and her refined way of speaking... it was as if we'd met Yoda in person! I still think of that as a Yoda moment.

    And it was a lesson in humility for us to never judge people by their appearance.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Cobb,

    The hair and beard thing that you mentioned is really interesting. I never would've guessed those reactions. Because of an accident in the 70s I have a very abnormal spine. I had to use a cane all the time for a few years starting in the late 90s. I won't go into the actual reactions I got while using the cane other than noting that they varied extremely widely depending on the individual and that some of them still really puzzle me today.

    To me it seems that when it comes to people, on one hand you've got the herd, which can be pretty hard to figure if you're not right where they're at; and then you've got everyone else, who can often be even harder to figure out than the herd.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    im the worst dresser in the world lol i always have cloths i got at thrift stores and always where jeans and tshirt in summer. shoes are hand me down sneakers.im always clean though but some shirts have bleach stanes

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Raggie, don't sweat it!! On weekends and holidays, its jeans, a T-Shirt and sneakers for me, too. And I have stained more than my fair share of shirts with bleach!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I used to wear a business suit and tie a lot and it is amazing how you can just about go anywhere and never get a second look. Even in secured areas where you are not supposed to be. You can ask people for information you are not supposed to have and they freely give it to you. I once walked into the headquarters of a major bank, entered the personnel department, asked them to make me a printout of all of their internal job postings and they gave it to me. They just assumed I worked there and should have access to it. Most of those jobs had not been released to the public yet and certainly not with the hiring managers identified.

    And any woman will tell you that if you want good service when you are shopping, you must dress up. How you dress makes a big difference.

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    *Flashaholic* bwaites's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    As much as we want to believe we do not discriminate based on looks, in order to survive, we MUST use something to help us discriminate.

    When we see a man holding a gun or knife, especially in a threatening manner, we immediately go into fight or flight mode. When we see someone dressed in what we perceive to be a frightening manner, we do the same. Deep in our brain, we must make decisions based on what we have experienced in the past, or what we have been taught.

    All of us have had experiences where what appeared bad was good, and what appeared good was bad, but our brains are very good at sorting through the odds and figuring out what the chances are of each and then having us react accordingly.

    When I see someone dressed nicely but dirty for whatever reason, I have had enough experience myself to recognize that something has happened to create that.

    However, my experience with multi-body pierced, tattooed, leather wearing youth has been negative, as I have been harassed, yelled at, and accosted by groups of them. (I live in a small town, but travel frequently to larger cities and this seems to be becoming a major issue.) Thus I avoid the situation if possible. For those of you who wonder why I might be accosted, all I can say is, I have no idea! I'm 6'3" and weigh 250 plus pounds, and I usually dress business casual when traveling. I have no fear for myself, I can take care of myself reasonably well, and have a concealed weapons permit to take care of the out of control contingincies, and yet I avoid confrontation if possible.

    My point is, we must all make decisions based on past experiences and knowledge, I avoid some groups because of those experiences and knowledge.

    However, we all also respect those who respect us by dressing nicely and acting appropriately. One of those signs of respect for others is how we dress when we expect to see them.

    When I was a supervisor in a large clinic, I could eliminate more than half the applicants without looking at their resumes, simply by watching them when they dropped off their applications. If they didn't dress appropriately, showing respect for the place and the job, I didn't want them.

    Narrow minded, perhaps, but the people I hired respected their jobs, but even more they respected the people they worked with and the people they served. They demonstrated the first part of that with how they dressed for work.

    Bill

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I have worked with the public for more than 30 years. Hiring practices are only one part of the interaction, but appearance can be most important in that case.

    Day to day interactions are more subtle though. While I was in schol I worked at a library, and one day an older man came to the desk for help. He was doing some volunteer work for the library. His suit was very rumpled, but I noticed the cut and material were pretty high class. I would have treated him in the same polite manner anyway, but after he left I asked a supervisor who he was. I had figured him for a retiree. Turns out he was a member of the board of trustees and also a CEO of a large company. You never would have guessed from his actions, since while he was very polite, he was very unassuming.

    I've always tended to judge people by what they do and not so much by what they wear or how they look. There are people I cannot stand because they have no concept of civil behavior and treat others badly. But they wear really expensive nice clothes. You just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

    I've also seen some amazing acts of kindness, respect, and dignity. Looks do count to a degree, sometimes money and position, too, but style ain't just about clothes.

  24. #24
    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I'd like to address the subject of different responses to people with visible disabilities and differences.

    All of us are formed by the sum of our interactions with people thoughout our lives. Some interactions are positive, and some are negative.

    I've had multiple encounters with people who took offense at my offer to help. Some were probably bitter, others might have been plain old grouches. Some were insulted. The lesson was that you have to look for some indication that help might be welcomed. A smile, a gesture, a look of distress.

    As one copes with one's problems, one learns how to give these signals. I suspect that happened at the same pace as the growing of hair.



    Now, as for clothes and such.....

    If a person wears styles that are designed to shock (piercings, epitaths, profanity) I tend to believe the person can be trusted to act shockingly. I avoid those folks, as it's not my cup of tea. Other than that, it does not matter much.

    But I live near San Francisco, where it does not matter what you wear as long as your dress is clean, your skirt is not too revealing and your manner is respectful. That goes for gals too!


    Daniel (had to lighten it up SOME)

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    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I almost forgot to say something.

    I've spent a bit of time in hospitals. I find I get wonderful, caring help from every one in each hospital. The reason is simple. I make it as pleasant as I can for the staff. I try to get everyone's names, I try to greet them all with a smile and I try to make their job as easy as possible.

    It's not easy to smile at the lab tech at 6:30 AM when they are taking the third blood sample in 8 hours, but in return I get treated as a person too. People do their best work when they feel good. You want a happy phlebotomist. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]


    Daniel

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    Daniel, most of your counsel is very wise, but I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on one point. Don't make your phlebotomist too happy. I was joking around with the woman who was drawing my blood a few weeks ago, and I noticed that every time she laughed, she moved the little tube that my blood was flowing into, which moved the needle in my arm, which made me wince. (At least this is what I think happened, I was too much of a wimp to actually look at the blood flowing out of my arm). [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] Just my $ .02.

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    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] Tony, that was good for a laugh. You must be much funnier than I am, since my phlebotomists seldom (if ever) laugh at my jokes. I settle for getting them to smile as I leave.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Daniel

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    We all get but one chance to make a good first impression.

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    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    I work with a lot of people ages from 15 through their mid-20's, and so I see a several multiple piercings, tattos, etc. I am one of the few people in the store who understands that a different look (and sometimes a DIFFERENT look) is often just a kid trying not to be what they see as a cookie cutout. Not all, but most of these people are actually the nicest, most polite, and most helpful people I work with. They certianly smile a lot more and have a more positive attitude. The most miserable people I work with are the most normal looking ones. Anyone else see that?

    If pink hair and three nose rings goes along with a happy kid and a positive attitude, sign more of 'em up!

  30. #30

    Default Re: Respect vs apperance

    A couple of you have hinted at the true reason behind the phenomenon Flow started this thread: class. Most societies are class-based. Some are rigidly so (Asian Indian castes) and some are more flexible (American). Appearance, race, artifacts (car, watches, phones etc.) in a flexible class society are commonly perceived as markers of class. Within subcultures such as hospitals, universities, pretty much any facility where there is stratification of occupations (yet another class marker), the participants are socialized into coding and decoding the markers as being emblematic of particular classes.

    One result of this is the rendering invisible of some people (housekeeping) and the spotlighting of others (doctors). Members of these classes are socialized into learning acceptable (a housekeeper giving a low five to another) and unacceptable (a housekeeper throwing his arm around a doctor and asking about her kids) modes of communication.

    This much is pretty well established as fact based on decades of sociological studies. What is not as well known, is how we can act to effectively dissassemble class barriers which are dehumanizing.

    Wilkey

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