“Many of us judge incorrectly (based on) someone’s ethnicity, by their profession, and by their sexual interest,” says the artist.
Judging a Human “Book” By Its Cover
“I believe every individual deserves a chance at a normal life without being judged in a negative way. I wish everyone could be treated equally, and this is my voice crying out for change." – Joel Parés, Photographer
Posted: 15 October 14
By Louisa McKay
What do you see when you look at the pictures below?
It may surprise you to learn that the sexualised man with the boa is the founder of a family outreach program, the woman wearing a burka and holding the gun is a New York City nurse, the sneering man with the tattoos is a graduate of Harvard, and the sex kitten sporting one-dollar bills in her corset is a widowed mother of two. If you see a drag queen, a militant, a gangster, and a stripper, you’ve just judged each of these human books by their covers, and that’s exactly what conceptual photographer Joel Parés wants you to do.
Parés is a U.S. Marine from Puerto Rico. He created his powerful photo series “Judging America” in the hope of furthering the conversation on prejudice. “Many of us judge incorrectly (based on) someone’s ethnicity, by their profession, and by their sexual interest,” says the artist. “The purpose of this series is to open our eyes and make us think twice before judging someone, because we all judge even if we try not to.”
What You See is NOT What You Get
Pares was inspired by the many ethnicities that together create the United States of America. “I wanted to open the eyes of the world,” he says, “and expose how certain individuals are judged and later turn out to be something besides the initial judgment.”
For his series, Parés photographed each subject twice. One photo shows the subject dressed to mimic a stereotype, and the other shows the subject as he or she really is.“The first image (demonstrates how you) categorize someone in your head without knowing who they truly are,” says Pares. The second image is of the person in their everyday attire along with an identifying caption that explodes the myth created by the first picture. “It explains the truth about the person and how incorrect they were judged initially,” explains Pares.
Inspired by Pain
Parés has seen the effects of stereotyping throughout his life. He recalls his twin brother was taunted as a child for being a nerd and that friends from India were incorrectly labelled as terrorists and mocked with phony Middle Eastern accents by fellow servicemen while he was serving in the American south.
It pained him to watch these large and small injustices, so he decided to “use my photography as an instrument of change,” he told The Huffington Post.“My goal is to open the eyes of those who judge and let them see that it is wrong, and they need to get to know someone before they begin to label them under a certain category.”
At Costhetics, we think that’s an admirable goal!