Recently, society has become conditioned to associate judgment with negativity and with a feeling of self-superiority. Anyone who claims to adhere to the practice of “not judging anyone” is usually very proud of that belief. However, in reality, judgment does not exclusively take place in a negative context.

In fact, judgment of others and yourself influences almost all of your actions and interactions with others. Complimenting someone is a judgment. You have made a conscious choice to judge their outfit, hair, etc., and you liked what you saw. Judgment in a negative context is also appropriate and should be encouraged if individuals are engaging in behaviors that are harmful to themselves or others.

Another issue that has become intertwined with judgment as something unacceptable is preference, specifically when it comes to the attraction of others. For example, if an individual states that they have a preference for blue eyes over brown eyes, many people will jump to the conclusion that they think brown eyes are undesirable or less than—it is simply a personal preference. Preferences can make others feel inferior, but when done in a respectful manner they should not be discouraged or produce that feeling in others.

People can have personal preferences, so long as they do not lead to the enforcement of unequal treatment and/or standards against certain groups. In theory, this seems like an obvious idea, however, it has proven to be more difficult to put into practice than we would like to believe. Just as “not seeing color” is not an effective solution to racism and the issues surrounding systemic inequality, “not judging” is not an effective solution to combating negative stereotypes and preventing insecurity or bullying.

We must become comfortable with the notion of judgment, and remove the exclusively negative connotations associated with the word. Judgment, if used correctly, can be an effective social tool to promote equality and at the same time call attention to those who are using their power in ways that inhibit progress in that direction.

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