Don’t judge a book by its cover

This is what I think of all the judging!


Ok so I have got my ranty tanty pants on.  I am sick of it, completely and totally over it! The judgement that is.  I have written about judgey mcjudgey before on here and you know what I am still done with it!  Straight up I am going to say that I am as guilty as anyone of judging but I try very hard to not do it and to live and let live.  Honestly, unless someone else’s actions are going to impact me or my family directly or put a child in harm’s way (or an animal) then seriously I just don’t know that it is my place to judge.

Looking at Facebook for me is a great way to quickly catch up to speed on what I have been doing and saying over the last few days.  Your activity log has a wealth of information that only you can see, if you have ever thought you did/said something or liked something and weren’t sure check it out there, it is great.  I check it every day.  Yesterday all over the news feed was this letter from the Head of a school in the UK asking parents to re-think their dress when coming into the school for assemblies and meetings.  Now of course I had something to say about this.  


We are super lucky at our school we have a kiss and drop zone (though some parents forget it is drop then drive off but that is a different rant for another day! – and yes when you don’t drop and drive off and hold up all the traffic I am going to judge!) This really means I could if I so chose to jump into the car drive the kids up to school and drive home and roll back into my bed all without getting dressed.  Of course there are a couple of issues with this currently the main one being I don’t have a drivers licence so the rest of this applies in the before or in a theoretical sense.  


It would seem that Kerri Sackville (love her if you don’t read her writing it is time to look her up!) shared the same article and there were some interesting replies.  They varied from the silly and funny, to the serious reasons for not being able to get dressed to the Judgey McJudgey.  


I have included a variety of them here for you to read: 


Unless the house was on fire in the middle of the night, I would never wear PJs outside. I cannot understand how these people justify wearing their night attire to school assembly. The notion of public wear and private wear should be pretty clear by the time you’re about 3 years old.


Ummm what about swimming costumes? in particular, bikinis? I live in Qld. I have a pool. I jump out of the pool, grab a towel and literally get into the car to pick up the kid. Also, some days, I take him in my pyjamas and pick him up in my pyjamas and if anyone is going to complain that I am still in my pyjamas at 3pm my generic response is, “Sure, I’ll start dressing to your standards when you find me a cure for Parkinson’s.”


I agree. I just couldn’t bring myself to wear my PJs, or even tracksuit pants, in public. Two of my kids are also twins and even during the newborn stage I got dressed for school drop off!


I don’t think I ever got out of the car in pjs. That’s why it’s called ‘drop off’ … And flannies are very comfortable. It’s not about a schedule. It about comfort, esp in winter. It’s like people who wear Lycra. They’re comfortable wearing that or jegggings etc. I couldn’t care what other people wear. It’s their business. Not mine.


That’s just plain laziness to leave your home in Pjs. No respectful person would do that!
I have never left the house in pyjamas, & nor do I ever intend to. I’m one of those annoying people who think wearing shoes when you’re out is a good thing too.


Thank god it’s not a note about wearing underwear on school dropoffs #serialoffender


The thing for me is that I am coming from a very different position in the now to the before.  In the now life is pretty confusing for me first thing in the morning.  It takes me a while to get my head around what is going.  Frankly if I need to drive the kids up to school in my PJs I will.  I might pull a jumper over the top but honestly most of the time there isn’t a whole lot of difference between my PJs and my day wear.  The biggest difference would probably be that my hair is brushed and so are my teeth and I have shoes on.  That said in the before I am pretty certain I wouldn’t care what you wore to school and if I did notice and it was out of the ordinary for you I would maybe ask if there was something going on and could I help somehow, and if it was normal more power to you I wish I could care less about what other’s think! 


Though some days that isn’t a guarantee I have been known to jump into the car with slippers on thinking there were shoes in there only to discover on arrival there are no shoes, so slippers it was that day (and that was at work!)  Equally I once jumped in the car and did not notice that my thong fell off as I got in until I got to the shops.  As I had spent 10mins getting the twins and #1 in the car I was going into the shops for what I needed barefoot.  Judge me if you like but frankly some days it is just like that.  


Mrs Woog (another amazing writer for you to check out) shared this great op ed piece about the letter from the school and the responses were varied here is another sample: 


I agree with the letter the prinipal has sent out. I think it’s really sloppy and lazy to wear your pj’s to drop your child off at school…the principal even said some parents would turn up to assemblies and meetings with teachers in their pj’s. How innapropriate. And embarrassing. Its also teaching your kids to not put in the effort when they go out and about and to not have pride in their appearance. I definitely dont look like princess mary when I drop my kids off and no one else should either- but c’mon. Pj’s to assemblies and meetings with the teacher? Tacky tacky tacky.


There’s a time and place for everything.We encourage our kids to wear clean uniforms and be proud of their school so why not the adults dropping them off?Get up 10 minutes earlier and throw on jeans n a top and change into pjs when you get home.


Bring back the 90s when we were allowed to wear petticoats as clothing without receiving warning letters. Bring back the 80s when a wider variety of body images were acceptable. Bring back less of whatever this is. If someone thinks there pjs are cool and awesome and they want to wear them, then go for it. If they want to wear a cape then go for it. What wear in their own time is none of my business.


Nah, I’ve picked kids up from work in pjs many times. And *may* have ventured to Coles on more than one occasion in my “good” pjs.As long as the kids are fed, clothed, LOVED and actually sent to school, it’s nobody’s business how anyone else dresses. More kindness & tolerance and less judgment would be a great thing. We don’t always know what’s going on in someone else’s life.


That brings me to another brilliant article I read today by Anna Spargo-Ryan about why she could speak up about mental illness (in her case) but really it could easily be applied to any invisible illness.  Anna is very open about her long-term struggle with mental illness but she says she can do this because of the privilege of her position in society.  She is fortunate to be in a dual income household and has the support of loving family and friends.  Anna works for herself these days so she does not need to disclose her illness to any employer but when she did, Anna had an awesome response where they recognised that she was more than her illness and did everything to keep her and work with her.  


Over the last 12mths I have been on a road to discovery of my own mental illness issues.  Like Anna I have also been incredibly fortunate to be able to do this from the position of having an incredible support network around me and whilst we are not a dual income anymore we are fortunate that we can make what we get stretch to cover our outgoings.  And like Anna I hide my illness from everyone including myself.  You would not know looking at me how I am feeling inside and that some days it is everything I have in me just to hold it together to be here.  You can never, ever know what is going on inside (be it a mental illness or a neurological illness or anything) just by looking at someone – always remember “don’t judge a book by its cover”.  I am not nearly even close to being in a place where I will need to disclose this to a prospective employer or employer.  Too be honest it is so far away I am not worrying about it (which makes a huge change for me!) 


You are probably thinking “Cath you have really lost it this time – how can you link these stories?”  Easily really and it isn’t a huge stretch.  Schools are judging parents and lots of other parents for not wearing “appropriate attire” into school for assemblies and meetings.  Honestly, in my experience when I was teaching sometimes just the very fact that the parent showed up for the meeting or assembly is a big deal.  There are plenty of parents who can’t be there (but want to more than anything!) for any number of reasons, there are parents who turn up dressed to the nines just so that everyone notices them and there are parents in between.


Has anyone when making these huge judgements about “they should take more care in their appearance,” “get off Facebook and get dressed,” “set a better example for your kids,” ever actually stopped to think what might be going on in the life of someone else.  Seriously, we can never really know what is happening in someone else’s life.  We will only ever know how much someone wants us to.  But the person judging about people not caring about their appearance might not know that at home mum and dad are dealing with a terminally ill child and they honestly don’t get five minutes to themselves to get dressed before racing everyone out of the door to get to school on time.  The alternative is that they do take that time but by then their terminally ill child needs more attention and before you know it they have been up since 4am and it’s lunch time and the other kids haven’t made it to school yet again.  So in that instance is it not better that mum or dad just comes as they are rather than not at all?  

In my instance that five extra minutes I spend on Facebook instead of worrying about how I look could mean that I can actually hold a conversation with you in the playground instead of looking great (or just mildly presentable.) Then I hide up the back hoping you won’t notice me because I have forgotten your name and other things we have in common because I spent the time doing my hair and getting dressed instead of working out who people are.  


It never fails to amaze me how people love to say set a better example.  How about this, someone battling a silent or invisible illness (to you) is setting an amazing example for their children.  They are showing them that no matter what, regardless of how hard it is and how much you don’t feel like keeping on going you keep pushing through.  No-one would dare walk up to a parent in the playground who might be quite obviously battling say cancer or in a wheelchair or something very visible and say oh why don’t you put a bit more effort in to set a better example for the kids, they say things like “isn’t it great you could make it!”  And they truly honestly mean it and don’t even look at what they are wearing!  However, when it is something people can’t see or don’t understand the judgement comes in more.  Honestly, I know people have said to me you are looking great.  Sure on the outside but don’t probe too deeply I am likely to crumble like kinetic sand or melt away quickly like the wicked witch right before your eyes.  


Next time you are tempted to judge someone on their outward appearance, stop, think and maybe just accept that it might not be what you would do but they are doing the very best they can.  We really need to stop judging each other and start empathising more honestly you will be happier for it.  Maybe I have given you something to think about.  


Here’s a funny story about me back in the late ’80s-early 90s I loved both my footy and going out dancing.  It was never appropriate for me to wear what I wore to the footy to the nightclub (I mean of course I could but seriously as if I would lol!) so I would take my red slip with me to change in the carpark at the footy and pop on my heels and go out for a night of dancing.  The thing is my ruby red slip was a nightie!  It was sold as lingerie but honestly it was too pretty for that!  More recently I had a wedding to go to when my twins were about 4mths old I felt frumpy as you can imagine so my mum took my shopping for a nice dress to wear.  Guess what we found a beautiful Lisa Ho slip dress that in all seriousness looks like lingerie!  Perhaps I was just a girl before her time.  

Hugs 
Cathy xoxo 
 
Video – Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure 
 

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