Suzan Boyle: Judging by Appearance

By: Samantha Abukhater

I can remember being in elementary school, being constantly preached too about how one should never judge a book by its cover or to treat others how you would like to be treated.  It was the golden rule, held in high regards. But as we grow up, things change, and in a society like ours, it’s hard to follow those rules that were once so important to us.

Looks are held so highly in our society and we are constantly being bombarded with media showing us that with fame and talent comes beauty- especially in the music industry. Image is everything. It creates this ideology that you must be thin, you must be young, you must be perfect.  The culture industry, mass media, advertising is constantly showing us images and engraving and manipulating the “image” of what beauty should be into our beliefs . We are constantly judging people based on their looks, what they wear and what they have. We see someone in ragged dirty old clothes and automatically assume they’re poor, we see someone with a Dolce & Gabana purse and automatically assume they’re rich.

In 2009, one lady proved not only Britain wrong, but our views on what beauty and talent in America should be. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, then you haven’t been keeping up with “popular culture”. Her debut album, I Dreamed a Dream, beat out Eminem’s Recovery , Lady Antebellum’s I Need You Now, Lady Gaga’s The Fame and Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0. She was named the No.1 artist on the Billboard Top 200 Chart and has broken nearly every album sales since, selling more than 9 million copies worldwide and was nominated for the 2011 Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album and holds three Guinness World Records in the new 2011 book. Her name is Suzan Boyle and she captured the whole world by surprise

Suzan Boyle, who is now 49, found sudden international fame from performing I Dreamed a Dream on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. Before her stardom, she was an unemployed charity worker who lived alone with her cat, Pebbles, in Scotland.

From the second Suzan set out on stage, the crowd made it obvious that they weren’t taking her seriously, and when she stated that she wanted to be a professional singer, snickers and whispers broke out among the crowed, as well as some eye rolling from doubting her. The audience was obnoxious and condescending towards her as they prejudged her ability to sing on her appearance and age, and I’m not going to lie, when my friend sent me the youtube video of her, I acted just like the audience, I laughed and didn’t take her seriously. But when she opened her mouth, she won over the whole crowd. She even caused Judge Simon Cowell’s, who has the very well known reputation of being harsh and hard to please, mouth to drop in shock. She got a standing ovation and praise from everyone, including from the judges, who later apologized to her for the way they acted towards her before they knew what she had in her.

Various news papers, such as the Huffington Post and The Herald took Suzan Boyles story as a parable to rebuke peoples tendency to judge others based on their looks, and the Washington Post believed “that Susan Boyle’s initial demeanor and homely appearance caused the judges and audience to be ‘waiting for her to squawk like a duck’.” Entertainment Weekly said that “Suzan Boyles performance was a victory for talent and artistry in a culture obsessed with physical attractiveness and presentation.”  Suzan Boyle, in a matter of minutes,  forced everyone to confront and understand hour societies stereotypes and personal biases stand in the way of those being prejudged by not giving them a chance to show who they really are and their amazing talents that they posses. It’s like the world was sending us a gift, Suzan Boyle, as a friendly wake up reminder that we, as a whole society, have forgotten the golden rule that was once held highly, and that were following the wrong ideologies.

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This entry was posted in Section 2, Student Posts, Winter 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

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