In Italy, there is an expression "la bella figura", which means "a good image". My Nonna used this expression a lot. It's a saying that not only deals with being well dressed when going out, but also with demeanor and correct behavior. "La bella figura", in a sense, is presenting one's best self to the world.
Taking this expression to a deeper level, it is a basic human truth that, like it or not, our appearance, demeanor, and actions reflect who we are, where we practice our faith, where we go to school, our national origin, and even how we are raised.
Getting my sons to understand this can sometimes be a challenge. One day in Target my two oldest boys got into a shoving match in the check-out lane. I was mortified for two reasons: one, they were fighting and two, they were fighting while wearing their school uniform. Later, when everyone calmed down, we discussed how, when wearing a school uniform, they were more than two brothers scuffling . . . people looked at them and saw their Catholic school, their church, and even their parents.
Now, did they get it? For the most part. I think. Maybe. My Nonna explained it better. But the very next time I took them to Target while they were wearing their school uniform, a woman commented on how well mannered they were and inquired where they went to school.
Hmmm. Maybe the idea of "la bella figura" is catching on after all.