Introduction

Join us in this new Let’s Talk Topics episode where we will be discussing appearance. We will talk about first impressions, the effect appearance have on us, plastic surgery, school uniforms, dress codes and more.

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Interactive Transcript

Text Transcript

Let’s Talk about Appearance

Danny:

Welcome to a new episode from English Plus Podcast. Today we have our Let’s Talk Topics and we’re going to discuss appearances today. I have my buddy, Ben to cohost this episode with me, and we will share with you our discussion about appearances. We will talk about the importance of first impressions, the affect of appearances on us, and much more.

Don’t forget that you can find a lot more on our website englishpluspodcast.com, so after you finish listening to this episode, go to our website and check out the rich learning opportunities you can find there. You can find all the links you need in the description of the episode.

And now without further ado, let’s start our discussion about appearances. Hi, Ben. So, we’re going to discuss appearances today.

Ben:

Sure, I’d be happy to chat about appearances! What specific aspect or topic related to appearances would you like to discuss?

Danny:

Well, let’s start with what Oscar Wilde said once. He said, “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” What do you think about that?

Ben:

Oscar Wilde’s statement highlights the importance of appearances in shaping our perception of the world and the people in it. However, it is also true that appearances can be deceiving and don’t always accurately reflect someone’s true character or the reality of a situation.

While it’s understandable to form initial impressions based on appearances, it’s important to remember to not solely rely on them and to keep an open mind. It’s better to take the time to get to know someone or something before forming a final opinion.

So, in conclusion, while appearances can provide valuable information and are a natural part of human perception, they shouldn’t be the sole basis for judgement.

Danny:

But we can both agree that first impressions are important, can’t we? Some people say that, “people form 90% of their opinion of someone in the first 90 seconds.” What do you think about that?

Ben:

First impressions can indeed be important, as they can set the tone for future interactions and relationships. However, the idea that “people form 90% of their opinion of someone in the first 90 seconds” is a common myth and is not backed by scientific evidence.

Research has shown that first impressions can be formed quickly, within a matter of seconds, but they are not set in stone and can change over time as people get to know each other better. Our initial impression is a complex mixture of past experiences, cultural norms, and available information, and it can be influenced by a variety of factors, including nonverbal cues and context.

So, while first impressions can certainly be influential, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not always accurate or definitive and can evolve over time. It’s best to approach new people and situations with an open mind and be willing to revise your initial impression as you gain more information.

Danny:

I definitely agree with that, especially when we meet people from different countries or cultures where there are different acceptable or unacceptable norms of appearance. For example, in some parts of the world, people cover almost their entire body with clothing and it is not acceptable to reveal any parts of your body, especially for women, but in other parts, it is socially acceptable to reveal more within normal limits, of course, and there’s also tattoos, piercing, earrings for men, long hair for men, heavy make-up, wearing a lot of jewelery, etc. What do you think about that?

Ben:

Yes, the norms and cultural expectations surrounding appearance can vary greatly between different countries and cultures. It’s important to be mindful of these differences and to avoid making assumptions based on our own cultural biases.

When we interact with people from different cultures, it’s important to respect their norms and customs regarding appearance and not impose our own views. For example, if someone from a conservative culture is wearing clothing that covers most of their body, it would be inappropriate to comment on that or try to change it.

At the same time, it’s important to be aware of our own cultural norms and to be open to learning about and respecting the norms of others. By doing so, we can help build bridges between different cultures and promote understanding and acceptance.

In conclusion, while appearance can be an important part of our identity and cultural heritage, it’s important to approach it with sensitivity and respect, both for ourselves and for others.

Danny:

But respect has to be mutual and not one-sided. I never think about cultural, traditional and religious norms of appearance in terms of right and wrong. Nobody is right or wrong; we’re only different, and difference for me is good because life would be so boring if we were all the same. Anyway, don’t you think that it’s paramount that respect in these matters should be mutual, or from both-sides?

Ben:

Yes, absolutely! Mutual respect is key in all aspects of human interaction, including differences in cultural norms and expectations surrounding appearance. It’s important to recognize and respect the diversity of cultures and their traditions, without making value judgements about what is “right” or “wrong.”

It’s also important to be aware of one’s own cultural biases and to approach differences with an open mind and a willingness to learn. By engaging in respectful dialogue and being willing to understand and appreciate other perspectives, we can foster a more inclusive and harmonious society.

Danny:

Alright, now let’s move on to talk about beauty. There’s a famous saying that goes like, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Do you think this proverb is true or are there certain norms of beauty?

Ben:

The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a commonly used proverb that expresses the idea that beauty is subjective and dependent on individual perception. This means that what one person finds beautiful may not be considered beautiful by someone else.

While it’s true that beauty is subjective, there are also certain cultural norms and expectations that shape our understanding of what is considered beautiful. For example, the standard of beauty in Western societies has traditionally been centered around a narrow definition of physical appearance, including attributes such as a symmetrical face, clear skin, and a certain body shape.

However, it’s important to recognize that these cultural norms and expectations can change over time and vary across different cultures. Moreover, it’s essential to challenge the narrow and limiting definitions of beauty that are often perpetuated by media and popular culture and to embrace a more inclusive and diverse understanding of beauty.

So, while it’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s also shaped by cultural norms and expectations, and it’s essential to recognize and challenge these norms in order to promote a more inclusive and diverse understanding of beauty.

Danny:

But nowadays, we find ourselves in a time when beauty is defined too much by social media and all these celebrities showing off their “perfect beauty” as it is commonly perceived. How dangerous is that on the most important innate sense of beauty for everybody else?

Ben:

The prevalence of unrealistic and idealized beauty standards promoted by social media and celebrity culture can be harmful to people’s self-esteem and body image. When people are constantly bombarded with images of “perfect beauty” that are digitally altered, airbrushed, or unattainable for the majority of people, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a negative self-image.

This can be especially damaging for young people and children who are still developing their sense of self and who may be more susceptible to the negative effects of unrealistic beauty standards. Research has shown that exposure to idealized images of beauty on social media can lead to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and body dissatisfaction.

It’s important to be aware of the impact that social media and celebrity culture can have on our sense of beauty and to actively seek out and promote a more inclusive and diverse understanding of beauty. This can include rejecting unrealistic beauty standards, embracing body positivity and self-acceptance, and celebrating the beauty in all forms and shapes.

Danny:

So, how can we help our children, or the younger generation to be a little more invulnerable against this bombardment on social media?

Ben:

There are several ways that parents and caregivers can help the younger generation be more resilient against the negative impact of unrealistic beauty standards on social media:

Encourage body positivity and self-acceptance: Teach children to appreciate and accept their bodies, flaws and all, and to focus on their strengths, abilities, and accomplishments.

Limit exposure to unrealistic beauty standards: Encourage children to be mindful of the content they consume on social media, and to limit exposure to unrealistic beauty standards that can be harmful to their self-esteem and body image.

Teach media literacy: Help children understand the ways that images are manipulated and altered in the media, so they can be more discerning consumers of media and less susceptible to unrealistic beauty standards.

Celebrate diversity: Encourage children to celebrate the beauty in all forms, shapes, and sizes and to embrace diversity in all its forms.

Promote positive self-talk: Teach children to practice positive self-talk and to avoid negative self-criticism.

Model healthy habits: Lead by example and promote healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity, to help children develop a positive relationship with their bodies.

In conclusion, parents and caregivers can play an important role in helping the younger generation be more resilient against the negative impact of unrealistic beauty standards on social media by promoting body positivity, limiting exposure, teaching media literacy, celebrating diversity, promoting positive self-talk, and modeling healthy habits.

Danny:

But whether we like it or not, physical attractiveness is easier to identify and it is the first thing we notice, and maybe it kind of influences people’s relationships or even job opportunities. Do you think that good-looking people are more likely to have a pleasant personality, be treated more leniently if they’re on the wrong, get a job with higher status, and be generally happier?

Ben:

Research has shown that physical appearance can have an impact on how people are perceived and treated by others. For example, studies have found that people who are considered physically attractive are often perceived as having more positive personality traits and are more likely to be treated favorably in various situations, such as job interviews or social interactions.

However, it is important to note that these perceptions are often based on stereotypes and are not necessarily reflective of reality. Beauty is subjective, and what one person considers attractive, another person may not. Additionally, physical appearance is just one aspect of a person’s overall being and should not be the sole determining factor in how they are perceived and treated by others.

In terms of job opportunities and happiness, research has shown that physical attractiveness can be a factor in certain job sectors, such as those that place a high emphasis on appearance, like entertainment or fashion. However, in most job sectors, other factors, such as education, experience, and skills, are considered more important.

As for happiness, research has found that physical appearance can have a short-term impact on a person’s self-esteem and mood, but it is not a predictor of long-term happiness or well-being. There are many other factors, such as relationships, social support, personal values, and meaningful work, that contribute to a person’s overall happiness and well-being.

In conclusion, while physical appearance can have an impact on how people are perceived and treated, it is important to remember that these perceptions are often based on stereotypes and are not necessarily reflective of reality. Beauty is subjective, and physical appearance should not be the sole determining factor in how people are perceived and treated by others.

Danny:

Alright, let’s talk now about make-up. Why do people wear make-up? how do you feel with and without make-up?

Ben:

People wear makeup for a variety of reasons. Some people wear makeup as a form of self-expression or creativity, while others may wear it to enhance their natural features or to conceal imperfections. Some people wear makeup for special events or to feel more confident in social situations, while others may wear it for cultural or religious reasons.

Regardless of the reason, wearing makeup is a personal choice and should be respected as such. It is important to remember that people are more than their physical appearance and that makeup should not define one’s self-worth or value. Beauty comes in many forms and can be found both with and without makeup.

Danny:

But what about men? Why don’t men usually wear make-up? And if it were socially acceptable would more men wear it?

Ben:

Men wearing makeup is becoming more accepted and visible in modern society, but it is still not as common as women wearing makeup. This is partly due to historical and cultural norms that have traditionally defined makeup as a feminine practice.

However, the stigma surrounding men wearing makeup is changing, and more and more men are embracing it as a form of self-expression and a way to enhance their features. In many cultures, men have long used grooming products, such as skincare and hair products, to improve their appearance, and makeup is simply an extension of that.

If it were socially acceptable, it’s possible that more men would choose to wear makeup, but it’s also possible that some men would still prefer not to. The decision to wear makeup is a personal choice, and people should be able to express themselves in a way that makes them feel comfortable and confident, regardless of gender norms.

Danny:

Well, I can’t disagree with that. After all, make-up is indeed a personal choice, and I believe that we should all respect each other’s personal choices, but does the same thing goes for plastic surgery. When do you think plastic surgery is essential and when is it not?

Ben:

Whether or not someone chooses to undergo plastic surgery is a personal decision, and it’s important to respect that decision. Plastic surgery can be performed for medical or cosmetic reasons, or a combination of both.

In some cases, plastic surgery can be essential to improve one’s physical health or function. For example, reconstructive surgery after an injury or cancer treatment can help restore the appearance and function of a body part.

On the other hand, cosmetic plastic surgery is performed to enhance one’s appearance or to change a physical characteristic that one is dissatisfied with. In these cases, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the potential risks and benefits, as well as realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure.

Ultimately, the decision to undergo plastic surgery should be made based on an individual’s personal values and goals, and after careful consideration and consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. It’s important to remember that there is no one standard of beauty, and that self-esteem and happiness should not be solely dependent on one’s physical appearance.

Danny:

But many people seek plastic surgery nowadays to look like some celebrity and they end up looking all alike in a way. While it is indeed a personal choice and needs to be respected, I believe going in that direction, especially when you see beautiful people forsake their natural beauty and undergo plastic surgery to look like some famous person. What do you think about that?

Ben:

Yes, it’s true that some people seek plastic surgery to look like a celebrity, and this can lead to a homogenization of appearance. This is a reflection of societal pressure to conform to certain beauty standards, which can be damaging to one’s self-esteem and self-image.

However, it’s important to remember that the decision to undergo plastic surgery is a personal one and should be based on individual goals and values, rather than external pressures. It’s also important to have realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure and to understand the potential risks and benefits.

Ultimately, it’s important to focus on one’s own unique qualities and to embrace one’s natural beauty, rather than trying to emulate someone else’s appearance. Self-esteem and happiness should come from within, rather than relying on physical appearance alone.

Danny:

Not to mention the hazards that go hand-in-hand with plastic surgery. I mean sometimes the results are heinous and I’m pretty sure that some of those people who underwent plastic surgery and the surgeries didn’t quite go as planned wish they’d never done that. What do you think about that?

Ben:

Yes, plastic surgery does come with some risks, and it’s important for individuals to be aware of these before making a decision to undergo a procedure. Some of the potential hazards include infection, scarring, adverse reactions to anesthesia, dissatisfaction with the results, and other complications that can arise during and after the procedure.

It’s also important for individuals to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon who has a track record of producing safe and satisfactory results, and to have realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure.

While plastic surgery can have its benefits, such as improving self-esteem and confidence, it’s important to consider all factors and to make an informed decision. It’s also essential to have a positive and healthy body image regardless of the outcome of the procedure.

Danny:

Very well, let’s talk about some famous stories that talk about appearances, such as “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” I know it’s kind of a children’s story, but how do you think it captures this topic we’ve been talking about, and what lessons can we get from this story, but first, let’s start with a brief summary of the story itself.

Ben:

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. The story is about an emperor who is so concerned with his appearance that he hires two weavers who promise to make him a suit of clothes that is so beautiful, it is only visible to those who are intelligent and competent.

The emperor, eager to see the new clothes, parades through the streets wearing only his underclothes, with the crowd pretending to admire the invisible clothes. Eventually, a small child in the crowd cries out that the emperor is wearing no clothes, and the truth is revealed.

The story is often interpreted as a commentary on vanity, the danger of conformity, and the power of appearances. The lesson of the story is that people should not be fooled by appearances, and that it is important to be honest about what one sees, regardless of the opinions of others. The story also highlights the dangers of not speaking up and standing up for one’s own beliefs and values.

Danny:

So, based on this story, don’t you think that our opinion about appearances is very much affected by who has this appearance. I mean people can easily criticize the appearance of a common Joe, but find it a lot more difficult to do that with a celebrity. They basically think that since this famous person did it, he or she must know what they’re doing. What do you think about that?

Ben:

Yes, the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” highlights the power of perception and the influence of authority on our opinions. People can be swayed by the perceived authority or expertise of others, even if that authority is misplaced. This can result in people blindly accepting or even praising things that have no substance or value, just because they believe that others consider them to be valuable.

It’s also important to note that people may not want to criticize or question the opinions of others, especially if they are seen as more knowledgeable or powerful, for fear of being seen as foolish or uneducated themselves. The story highlights the danger of conforming to societal norms and the importance of being confident in our own beliefs and opinions, even if they differ from those of others.

Danny:

Why is it important for people to base their opinions on what they see as good or bad rather than be affected by the person they’re trying to critique? Or is it just a trivial thing that does not have a lot of effects on society?

Ben:

Forming opinions based on appearances, whether it be of a person or a thing, can lead to a lot of biased and inaccurate judgments. People can be influenced by their personal experiences, emotions, beliefs, and societal norms and conventions. This is why it’s important to be critical and not form opinions solely based on appearances, as appearances can be deceiving.

Having an unbiased perspective is crucial in various aspects of our lives, including personal relationships, decision making, and evaluating people and things objectively. However, it’s important to note that forming opinions based on appearances is a natural human tendency, and it’s not always easy to overcome it, but being aware of it and working towards being more objective and non-judgmental can go a long way in promoting a fair and just society.

Danny:

All right then. Well, what about people who don’t care at all about their appearance. They just jump in whatever clothes available then go about their lives. I am not talking about dirty people; these people take good care of their hygiene, but don’t care at all about the way they look.

Ben:

It is important to remember that everyone has the right to express themselves in the way they feel most comfortable, and that includes their appearance. Some people prioritize other aspects of their lives over their appearance, and that is perfectly fine. What’s important is that they are happy and confident in who they are and how they present themselves to the world. Society should embrace and respect this diversity of self-expression, as long as it does not harm others.

Danny:

Absolutely, I mean we all remember Einstein’s hair, which has become an icon, and he never cared a lot about making it look any better, but that didn’t take away anything from him.

Ben:

Yes, that’s correct. People like Einstein, who have achieved great things, are often remembered for their accomplishments, rather than their appearance. Personal appearance is just a surface level aspect, and what truly matters is a person’s character, personality, and actions. Additionally, focusing too much on one’s appearance can detract from more important aspects of life and limit potential growth and experiences.

Danny:

But we can be free in choosing the way we look as long as our looks doesn’t harm other people or insult their beliefs, especially when we know it does, and we don’t have to be Einsteins to do that. Don’t you think so?

Ben:

Yes, it is important to have the freedom to express ourselves and choose our appearance, as long as it doesn’t harm or disrespect others. At the same time, it’s important to consider the consequences of our actions and the impact they might have on those around us. Personal expression is an important aspect of individuality, but it should be balanced with consideration for others.

Danny:

When it comes to the personal freedom to express yourself in any appearance you find fit, does the rule “Your freedom stops where the freedom of others starts” apply?

Ben:

Yes, it’s important to consider the impact our appearance may have on others and to not infringe on their rights and freedoms. The principle that “your freedom stops where the freedom of others starts” is a useful guideline to follow in this context. It’s possible to express oneself freely and creatively through one’s appearance while still respecting the boundaries of others and ensuring that our actions don’t harm or restrict others.

Danny:

We find some provocative appearances prevalent among younger generations. How important is it for older people to accept the rebellious looks we find on some teens, and when is it important to do something about it? When is it not acceptable anymore?

Ben:

It’s important for older people to respect the personal choices and expressions of younger people when it comes to their appearance. However, there may be times when an appearance crosses the line into harmful or dangerous territory, such as if it promotes hate or violence, and it becomes important to address it. The line between acceptable and unacceptable can be subjective and may vary across different cultures and societies. Ultimately, it’s a balancing act between allowing personal freedom of expression and protecting the well-being of others.

Danny:

It can be difficult to talk to younger people, especially teens when it comes to their appearance. How do you think we should best do it?

Ben:

When it comes to talking to younger people, especially teenagers, about their appearance, it’s important to approach the conversation with empathy and respect. It’s important to recognize that their appearance is a form of self-expression and a reflection of their individuality.

Instead of being critical or dismissive, try to have an open and non-judgmental conversation with them. Ask them about why they made certain choices regarding their appearance and listen to their perspective. It’s also important to consider their safety and well-being, so if you have concerns about certain practices or materials, it may be appropriate to express those concerns in a supportive and non-confrontational manner.

Ultimately, the key to having a productive conversation is to maintain a positive and respectful relationship with the person, while also being open and honest in your communication.

Danny:

Finally, since we have been talking about appearances, I would like to talk about school uniforms. Some people say that school uniforms are important to grey out the gap there might be among different students, so both rich and poor students will kind of look the same, and that’s why they support school uniforms, but other people believe that there should be no school uniforms as this takes away the student’s freedom of expressing the way they want to look. What do you think about that?

Ben:

School uniforms can be a topic of debate, as they have pros and cons. On one hand, school uniforms can help to level the playing field among students and reduce social and economic differences, making all students feel equal. On the other hand, some argue that school uniforms restrict individual freedom and self-expression.

Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to have school uniforms should be made taking into consideration the specific needs and culture of each school and community. Some schools might find that uniforms are a positive influence, while others may feel that allowing students to express themselves through their clothing is more important. It’s important to strike a balance between creating a sense of unity and community, and allowing students to express their individuality.

Danny:

So, do you think it’s a good idea to have a casual day, like it is the case with many businesses?

Ben:

Having a casual day can be a good idea as it allows students to express themselves through their appearance and can be a fun change of pace. However, it’s important to consider the school’s dress code policies and whether a casual day would align with those policies. The school may also need to consider if it would have any negative impact on the learning environment, such as potentially distracting other students or creating a disrespectful atmosphere. Ultimately, the decision whether to have a casual day or not should be based on what is best for the school and its students.

Danny:

And what about dress codes at work? Why are they important? Why wearing decent clothes to work is considered both professional and respectful?

Ben:

Dress codes at work are considered important because they reflect the company’s culture and standards, and also help to maintain a level of professionalism and respect in the workplace. Wearing decent and appropriate attire shows that the employee takes their job and the company seriously, and it can also help to create a more cohesive and unified workplace. Additionally, certain industries or roles may require specific dress codes for safety or hygiene reasons. Ultimately, dress codes at work help to establish clear expectations and norms for employee appearance, which can contribute to a positive work environment and increase overall productivity.

Danny:

Alright, I believe that’s all about appearance that I wish to discuss in one day. Can you sum up the points we talked about in brief.

Ben:

Sure! To summarize, appearance is a personal choice and individuals have the right to express themselves through their appearance as long as it does not harm others or violate any laws. However, there can be societal and cultural norms and expectations about appearance, such as dress codes in schools or at work. Different people may have different opinions and preferences about appearance, but it is important to respect each other’s choices. Personal appearance can also be influenced by external factors such as peer pressure, media, and celebrities. Ultimately, the most important thing is to feel confident and comfortable in one’s own skin, regardless of how they choose to present themselves to the world.

Appearance is a personal choice and everyone should have the freedom to express themselves however they see fit, as long as it does not harm others or infringe on their freedoms. People should base their opinions on what they see as good or bad, rather than being affected by the person they are trying to critique. Ultimately, it’s important to respect each other’s choices and celebrate diversity in appearance.

Danny:

Thank you very much for discussing appearances with me today. I do appreciate it!

Ben:

You’re welcome! I enjoyed our conversation.

Danny:

And to our listeners everywhere, thank you very much for listening to another English Plus Episode, and I hope you enjoyed our Let’s Talk Topics episode about appearances. Remember that this episode is weekly, so there’s going to be a Let’s Talk Topics episode every Tuesday. You don’t want to miss that. And of courses there are our other Let’s Talk episodes, Let’s Talk Business, Science and Literature. And there’s also our Word Power episodes on Mondays and our Casual Talk episodes on Saturdays where you get to ask us any questions you want and we will answer them on the show. All you have to do is send us your questions or suggestions to [email protected]. With that being said, I would like to thank you again for listening. This is your host, Danny. I will see you next time.

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<a href="https://englishpluspodcast.com/author/dannyballanowner/" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan

Author

Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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