Perception and judgement are an influential part of shaping our self-esteem and personal belief systems.

““Don’t judge me, mom!” These words seem to roll off my tween daughter’s tongue more times than I can count. “What exactly does that mean?” I ask.

“It means don’t judge me,” she says again. This conversation usually takes place when I’ve gotten a glimpse of her room (which looks like a tornado hit it) or discovered a thousand selfies of her on my cell phone. “It’s my job to judge you,” I say, “I’m your mother. If I’m looking at you strange, and I love you, imagine what some stranger on the street is going to think?” Then we commence into yet another debate about whether judging people is right or wrong. I contend that judging, in and of itself, is simply one person’s opinion. The more important issue is how we come to that opinion and how those judgments impact us.

Here’s an example. You take a walk with your family down to the neighborhood pool. Your kids immediately cannon ball in. You take off your cover up (it must be 100 degrees!), stretch out a lounge chair and dive into the book you’re been dying to read all year. Suddenly you hear giggling and whispering coming from the chairs next to you. You look up to find a couple of tween boys staring at you. Guess that bikini isn’t covering up as much as you thought. “Gross!” you hear a little girl whisper. “Stop pointing,” her mother says as she twists her face into a knot. “This is a neighborhood pool for God sakes!” a gray-haired woman mouths from behind her magazine. Your face feels hot from embarrassment and you pray your children don’t realize that you are the cause of all the whispers.

It’s just a swimsuit. Why are they judging me? You think. Well, consider this. The grey-haired woman grew up with a mother that always told her to leave something to the imagination. The mother of the pointing child had a father that never let her wear a mini skirt or daisy dukes. Perhaps you even had the old school grandma that always made you wear pantyhose to church and take a shawl to drape over your legs. If you were blessed enough to have someone in your life giving you this kind of advice, please know they were just guarding the perception that other people had of you.

Now you may say, oh I don’t care what other people think about me. But girlfriend, don’t fool yourself. We can’t afford not to care what other people think about us. When people look at us, their perception is reality and their reality can impact us greatly.

As women, perception determines if we’re taken seriously, given respect and given opportunities. It can determine how other people treat our children. If you want to be respected, you have to dress the part.

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