Talking Identity with Taelor Beeck: First Impressions Are Often Wrong

Mar 28, 2016

The way you see yourself can be very different from the way others see you. Who is right? 

Just about a week ago, a server in Des Moines was stiffed out of a tip because she isn’t “normal looking.” During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Taelor Beeck, who says she expected not to receive a tip from the table who wrote her a note about her appearance on their check, but never would have thought the table would criticize her for her appearance.

“At first I felt sick to my stomach. My heart dropped,” Beeck says. “I’ve never received an insult like that working there for five years.”

Beeck later posted a photo of the check on social media. She says that both the note on the receipt, and the way the photo went viral on the Internet, were unexpected, but she’s glad to have started a conversation about identity.

“I just want people to know that it’s okay to be yourself. You don’t have to fit into society’s norms,” Beeck adds.

Nebbe also talks with Zlatan Krizan, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University, and Laura Naumann, an assistant professor of psychology at Nevada State College, about first impressions and our ideas of identity. They agree that most of the time, our first impressions are wrong, and even when it comes to how we see ourselves, we make a lot of mistakes. 

“I think many of us have the good intention of saying ‘I don’t judge a book by its cover,’” says Naumann. “But our brain, despite what we may want it to do, is constantly working in the background in an automatic and unconscious way and is constantly making judgments of ‘is this a man or a woman, are they young, are they old?’”