I previously wrote about looking your best on the blog. While "your best" might be subjective or not always attainable, putting effort into how you look can influence other's perception and decisions about you. Everyday we make conscious and subconscious judgements about people based on external factors such as appearance, our brains are biologically wired to do so. As difficult as it is to admit or as shallow as it sounds, it is true. Appearance matters. Studies show that those who are considered physically attractive reap a number of unmerited benefits. Another study showed that women who wore makeup to work appeared more competent to others.
I think it's only fair to say that when I talk about appearance, I'm not talking about subjective and socially biased perceptions of beauty. There are a variety of ways to look more attractive or to make the most of your unique beauty. Before I move on, appearance is not everything. There's so much more to who you are including your personality, your brilliance, your gifts and talents. We are a lot more than how we look. Appearance makes up a part of your total package.
Growing up, my parents and relatives taught us that how we presented ourselves to the world mattered. In my small Caribbean community, it not only mattered for me, it reflected on my parents and my family. It wasn't surprising to hear someone describe a disheveled appearance as "looking like you come from nowhere and had no one." As a result, we took care to look presentable when we left the house, knowing that our appearance factored into establishing or dismantling our credibility.
If popular social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest teach us anything, it's that people appreciate and follow that which they find beautiful, attractive and/or interesting. It’s no wonder that some of the biggest social media influencers put a lot of time, effort and money into curating their feeds to make them appear as pleasing to the eye as possible. They realize that appearance powerfully drives their brand and branding.
In fact, how you look is part of your brand. Appearance is difficult for people to ignore, and all of us generally use it to evaluate others. I would also argue that it impacts how we feel about ourselves, when I look my best, I feel a lot more confident, polished and self-assured. The opposite is also true.
Given all of this, I would encourage anyone (myself included) to put forward their best selves when it comes to appearance. At times, it's the first time you communicate with someone before you speak. It matters if you look put together or a complete mess. What do you want to communicate to the world? Make it count!