Judgy Kids?

Lorde was weird because she’d dipped the tips of her fingers in black paint and she moved her hands aggressively when she sang.  Pharrell’s big brown hat was weird. Ryan Lewis’ suit with the giant houndstooth pattern was weird.  Daft Punk with their robot helmets were weird.  And then that adorable Hunter Hayes sat down at the piano, and he was weird because of the faces he made when he sang about daring to be different.  The irony was most definitely lost on her.

Listening to her, I realized that I am obviously not doing a good enough job when it comes to teaching tolerance.  It’s one thing to teach your kids that someone’s race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation have nothing to do with whether someone is a nice person or not.  But what about teaching your kids that how people dress and style their hair doesn't matter, either?  Why do we automatically label nonconformists as “weird,” or “strange?” 

When I was in high school, I knew a guy – we’ll call him Mark – who dressed like nobody else.  Mark wore army jackets and combat boots way before they were trendy.  He had an asymmetrical haircut.  He wore black eyeliner and nail polish.  At one point, Mark tied a decapitated Barbie head to one of his shoelaces.  He was definitely different.  “Weird,” even, I guess.  But Mark was also one of the nicest, coolest guys I knew.  And knowing him taught me a lot about not judging people so harshly just because they choose not to dress like everyone else.