How Appearances Can Change A Character

They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover. In reality, we all do. That beautiful blonde woman walking down the street carrying her Louis Vuitton handbag, you say ‘I bet she’s rich, look at her’ We stereotype people by their appearances and then make judgement about them as a person, we think we know everything about that person solely based on their looks.

You see a scruffy old man who has not shaved his grey beard, you brand him homeless. He may not be homeless, but you think he is because of his looks.

A Story writer/director will use common stereotype’s of a person’s appearance to tell us a story. Legally Blonde and Reese Witherspoon for example, The director made it clear that we see a blonde, pink addicted airhead. This appearance defines our character, we interpret that she is dumb, uneducated, selfish and mean when in fact she is far from any of those. The director specifically played on this assumption as part of the narrative of the film.

In film, a designer can work on a character that is supposed to be a wealthy business man, but if he is not dressed in a suit, clean shaven and extremely attractive, we would never, ever make that conscious decision to say ‘He is a business man’. If a designer is told to create a character based off of Jessica Rabbit, in a beautiful red fitted dress with long flowing red hair, you would never think that character would be a quiet, minimalist girl who sits in her room studying.

No matter how much planning you do to design a characters personality, work life and home life, if you fail to match their appearance to those things, you will not get the correct vision across. These appearances are not always correct however, just because a person is blonde, does not mean they are stupid, just because someone has not shaved for two weeks does not mean they are homeless, just because someone adores superhero’s, does not make them a geek. Film and TV have played a huge role in the branding of stereotypes.

Not only in film does appearances change how a person is viewed. Another example, specifically in life today, a person’s appearance is judged before them as a person. Socially and Politically for instance, if you are a young black teenager, there are certain people who will automatically stereotype you as a thug, a gang member, just because of your skin color, no matter how wrong and racist is it, this happens. America is suffering hugely at the moment because of racial profiling where numerous young black men have lost their lives due to racist law enforcement officers who have stereotyped them.

Reese Witherspoon. Legally Blonde. Huffington Post, Sexist Assignment from U OF T Business School Gets Shut Down. News Article. 12/08/14. Available:

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