Appearances only tell half (or even less) of the story.
While they do matter on certain formal occasions, it’s still not enough to tell who a person really is.
It’s a surface-level indicator that, more often than not, is completely wrong.
How many times have your first impressions changed after getting to know someone?
But seeing beyond the looks isn’t easy. Our eyes aren’t trained to see what isn’t there.
It doesn’t have to be a lifelong habit, however. With these 11 tips, you can begin learning how to see people — and maybe even yourself — beyond the looks.
1) Stop believing everything you read
We often don’t realize how much advertising can change the way that we think about certain topics.
The way companies portray what is attractive is what sets a social standard that people now have to reach.
Agencies intentionally, and subtly, tell people that, if they aren’t using the latest skin whitening product, they aren’t attractive.
This, of course, isn’t the case. Using advertising and promotional materials a metric for beauty is shallow.
You not only let other people define beauty for you, but you’re also helping spread a stigma about a specific type of appearance.
Anyone can buy a product off the shelf and change their looks. But it can never change someone’s personality, which is what makes them a true individual.
2) Be open-minded
We all have a set of beliefs about what a beautiful person looks like — but have you ever considered why you find those qualities so attractive?
Beauty standards are entirely subjective; they change depending on the culture and the upbringing of people.
What might turn you on here might not be such a big deal in a foreign country.
Keeping an open mind allows you to see that beauty comes in all different shapes, sizes, heights, and skin tones.
Only believing in a single standard of beauty, without at least realizing and acknowledging that other people like different things, leads to a shallow view of someone’s looks.
In reality, there is no “ugly” person; there is only what is and isn’t your type.
3) Hold your judgements
There is a natural tendency to judge people based on their looks — it is the first thing that we see after all.
When we see someone sporting a mohawk and a full sleeve of tattoos, you can already imagine what they’ll be like.
But remember: looks aren’t everything. Try to catch yourself the next time you’re ready to judge someone before you’ve even spoken to them.
The more you get to know someone, the more you might realize that the initial judgment was completely flawed; that person was far more interesting than you thought.
Everyone has their own story and view of the world.
Putting people in a box through your judgment blinds you to a side of the world that you might never have seen before.
4) Realize that looks change
It’s a fact of life that we’ll eventually get wrinkly. No matter how much Botox or hair color someone uses, the effects of aging will always be difficult to hide.
Getting into a relationship solely based on appearance can become devastating once time catches up with the body.
This is because someone’s appearance is temporary.
It can also be the least impactful thing about someone when we get to know them for decades.
While you might still be able to see them wearing their favorite shirt, however tacky you think it looks, the more impactful memory will be the way that you felt when you were with them.
5) Get to know others
The Beauty and The Beast is called “the tale as old as time” for a reason.
Time and again, people have been proving first impressions wrong through the time spent with other people.
If you spot someone with tattered clothes and a disheveled look, it can be easy to pass them off as someone who’s lazy and disorganized.
But get to know them more and you might find that they’ve lost their possessions in a fire, and they’re desperate for help.
Not everyone is as bad as you think they are upon the first meeting. There might be a kind and generous soul hiding behind those modest looks.
The important thing is to always make an effort to get to know them before you judge them.
6) Stop with the comparisons
No one sets the standard for being the most beautiful person, because it’s a subjective matter. Different people have different definitions of beauty.
Life isn’t like a beauty pageant where there are contestants trying to impress non-existent judges to come out with the crown.
Everyone has something that they’re good at and something that they aren’t — it’s up to you to determine how you want to see that.
There is no perfectly made person because there’s always going to be a physical feature that they’ll lack that another person has.
You have to accept those trade-offs when you’re looking to be in a relationship with that person.
If you keep waiting for “the perfect one” for you, they’ll never arrive. Because they don’t exist.
The only thing that you should be considering is how the certain person makes you feel.
7) Evaluate your priorities
Understanding that you have a problem is the first step to solving it.
If you’ve realized that you might actually be too shallow when it comes to how people look, then you’re already making more progress than others.
It takes certain self-knowledge and introspection to figure out what exactly you’re looking for in a partner. Maybe you do value the way someone looks.
Just be wary about putting that as your number 1 priority, however.
People age and get wrinkled. Personality traits are more resilient than someone’s appearance.
So try to understand if you want someone that’s more pious, driven, soft-spoken, extroverted, or introverted.
Maybe you don’t mind that they aren’t very tall, but you care more that they treat your parents and friends kindly.
These are more meaningful qualities in a person than if they have a trendy hairstyle.
8) Look for the bigger picture
A person is far more than what they appear to be. While it’s easy to categorize people simply based on your initial conversation with them, it usually takes more than that to understand them.
People are like icebergs. You’re only seeing the tip of it — the part that they allow to show — when you meet them. You’re catching them at a specific point in their lives.
You don’t know what they’ve been through in the past or what their ambitions are in the future.
9) Always be respectful
Your struggles aren’t unique.
Although people have gone through different settings and experiences, their feelings of anxiety, sadness, joy, and happiness are emotions that we can all relate to.
When you meet someone, it can be difficult to tell how things are going back at their home.
You don’t know how their relationship is with their family, or if they’re still recovering from a devastating heartbreak.
That’s why it’s important to give others a basic level of kindness. It costs nothing.
But if you extend your hand to help another person, regardless of what they look like, it could mean the world to them.
10) Practice giving genuine compliments
If you meet someone with pimples on their face, there’s no need to mention it to them.
There’s a high chance that they know. It can be a blow to their self-esteem when they realize that someone calls it out.
On the other hand, telling them that you like how kind they are could make their entire day.
Genuine and powerful compliments aren’t only based on someone’s appearance — they’re based on someone’s character.
When you try to know someone more, you get a glimpse of their virtues and ethics.
Complimenting them on their personal qualities can be more meaningful than pointing out their clothes.
11) Practice showing love
The value of love has been preached about for centuries by pastors and leaders alike.
Loving doesn’t always have to look romantic, however.
It can simply look like showing compassion and empathy to someone, regardless of how they sound or what they look like.
It can be offering someone your seat in the bus. It can also be interacting with the less popular people at work.
When you show love to other people, they’re more likely to reciprocate.
Try to lower your barriers and realize that we’re all humans on this planet together.
Being able to show love to strangers isn’t easy, but it’s always appreciated.
Being shallow about looks isn’t entirely your fault.
We have to be able to judge a possible threat coming our way so that we can make the necessary changes in our lives.
But we’ve also evolved to build connections with people based on qualities more than their look.
These go far beyond skin tones and weight.
Inside of all of us is a yearning to belong somewhere.
There is a shared humanity just beneath the surface.
All it takes is the willingness to hold your judgements. It’s difficult to dislike someone if you know their story.
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