You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you do

3 Feb 2014
25 May 2020
3 minutes
Creative Commons:
Creative Commons:

Wearing a suite was part of my day to day life a couple of years ago. Everyday, before going to work, I was ironing my pants, and shirt. I wasn’t wearing a tie or a jacket, but I had the businessman look. One day, I decided to see if the proverb “you can’t judge a book by its cover” (in French, the literal translation of our proverb is “the clothing doesn’t make the monk”) was true (my initial interrogations, and constatations on the subject, in French). I decided to wear jeans, and t-shirts for work, and this is how my story begun…

My boss at that time was open to the idea, so I totally changed my look, and went from suit to jeans, and t-shirts. At the end, most of the time I was behind a computer, and I was mostly working with one customer that already known me. I wasn’t going to become a bad developer because of my clothes, so I decided to make the test about how people will now perceive me. I wasn’t stupid: I had a pretty good idea of the answer, but I wanted to make that test. The result wasn’t a surprise. It changed absolutely nothing with the people that already known me: they were surprised I wasn’t wearing suit, but their opinion of me didn’t change at all. On the other side, every new person in my network, didn’t share the same thought about me than the others: their expectations were low, very low. This guy can’t be serious or a good developer, look at him…

From that time on, it happened to me everywhere: people are judging me on my outfit, not on my knowledge, expertises, and personality. It happened to me in restaurants, in conferences, at customers’ offices, in my own company office (not really at Mozilla as there is a culture of t-shirts), at the store… Everybody needs to prove itself when meeting a new person, but in my case, I have to work harder just to get to the same level of someone, let’s say, wearing “better” clothes. Since I realized that it was really the case, and I thought it was totally stupid, I decided to continue with the hard path: if you have to judge me, you’ll do it on facts, not because I’m fitting in your convention. Actually, it wasn’t just about clothes, but about being myself in every situation. From this day forwards, I decided that if you don’t like me, like I am, I won’t care, because I know I can’t please everyone

It also gave me another view of the world, as to be honest, I was doing the same thing: judging people not about who they are, but on what they wear or what they own. It made me change my thinking, and make me appreciate a lot more new people I meet. At the end, no matter which clothes you like to wear, which music you listen to, or whoever you are, stay yourself, and forget people who judge you because you aren’t following the convention: be who you are! If you are on the other side, don’t judge someone by his look: take the time to know that person a little more before making an idea of it…

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