Since when is it superficial to care about how you look? Maybe it’s superficial for you to criticize.
“The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one’s soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive – you are leaking.” ~ Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
Women love a man in uniform. Or so I’m told.
Whether it’s the Military Man or the Police Officer, the UPS guy, or the waiter at your favorite restaurant—their pressed shirts and pants, their polished shoes, their shined metals; all of these things combined give an indistinguishable message to the world that this man is disciplined, professional, committed to an ideal, with an intrinsic attention to detail.
We see a similar attitude within the traditional Martial Arts community, where uniforms are treated with an almost ritualistic attitude. A ‘Gi’ is kept in the best condition possible, and ardent students stop to adjust them even during training.
We wouldn’t view either of these examples as vanity, but as someone who respects his commitment to an ideal, a respect to the traditions attached to said ideal, and, most importantly, as someone who respects himself. It demonstrates that this man is living up to a higher standard.
And many of us, even if not within the Military or the Martial Arts Community, try to live up to a higher standard. We take the time to develop our speech, our education, and our selves. We hold our intellect, especially within the online community, in high regard. We are careful in our words, written and spoken, as these words represent who we are.
So if we take care to present an honest image of ourselves, why shouldn’t this extend to every aspect of our person? If we understand how improper words negatively reflect on us as an individual, why is giving the same level of attention to appearance so disdained? Wouldn’t wearing pressed shirts or pants be a result of your attention to detail? Wouldn’t a proper haircut just show that you are able to take care of yourself? Shouldn’t shined shoes be proof of your interest to go beyond mediocrity? Shouldn’t your appearance be a reflection of your professionalism? Shouldn’t the fact that your professionalism is evident in everything you do, be a reflection of your character as a man?
“But you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
The generalized attitude these days is to shame anyone who focuses on their appearance. We assume they are vain, shallow, superficial, and we might go as far as assuming these people are compensating their lack of intellect with their appearance. Yet, here’s the irony within that statement. When we have no problem shaming those who do take care of their appearance, aren’t we actually judging them because of it? We try so hard to prove that we are not superficial, yet we are quick to call someone shallow simply because they take care of their appearance. Are we not taking the same attitude we condemn?
Your appearance should be a reflection of who you are. Want it or not, how you look and how you dress does send a message of who you are. The message you send is up to you, yet how others interpret that message is up to them. So when everything is said and done, just be honest about who you are.
Really, what is the difference between Men in Suits and Men in Uniform? A well-dressed man shows how his commitment to excellence translates to every aspect of himself. You will notice that his character and professionalism translate directly into his manners and his appearance. That’s how you can tell the difference between a fop who follows fashion and a man who respects himself.
Gentlemen, go out and give yourself the respect you deserve.
Photo: Flickr/Nick Bastian