March 7, 2011

Fashion Sending Mixed Messages

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 12:28 am

By Jill Germana

Imagine walking into a store that was designed solely for one person.  The clothes all having the same theme for the clothes; the same color, cut, and style of one’s choosing.   Is it possible to create a store from the complexities of one single person?  Can that store sum up what one person is by their style type? People find a multitude of ways to judge someone, but how right can stereotypes be?

For some people, this topic may seem exhausted or a bit obvious.  Of course, people will make first judgements of someone.  What many forget to realize is that strangers will believe that they have someone figured out by other’s appearances.  Stereotypes such as “gays”, “jocks”, “goths”, and “preps” are just a few of the classifications that someone can put onto another just by a first glance.

Can there be such a strong connection between someone’s personality and their style?  Ever since childhood, people are taught to express themselves through clothes and to wear what makes them feel most comfortable.  Through this, people wear certain types of clothes to establish themselves as individuals.  Friends tend to like the same style as one another, which causes trends in various friend groups.  As the trends grow more and more popular, divisions are put up.  From this, lots of people are classified as one type of person.  Fashionable girls could be labeled as sluts, weirder styles; punks, athletic clothes; jocks.  With these groups, came stereotypes.  For example, shopping at certain stores can give someone a reputation from previous shoppers at the store.  Wearing one brand of clothes allows people to assume things about someone.  Stereotyping happens frequently at the University of Cincinnati.  Students swear that they can point out a student from the college of art or another from the college of engineering.  It is peculiar how much a shirt can tell the world.

Consequently, people cannot be the only ones blamed for stereotyping.  The media heavily influences what people do, including stereotyping.  T.V. shows and commercials can sway people’s beliefs into thinking that something is “in” or “fashionable”.  From the media’s standpoint, they are just trying to make money.  They advertise anything that sells, whether it is good or bad.  Media such as T.V. shows and commercials are influencing children very negatively.  The article continues this thought by stating that the messages that are sent out by the media are manipulating the children to do things that they would not have done in attempts to “fit in”.  This article explains stereotyping by exposing children to what the media views as “okay” instead of allowing the children to chose their own fashion sense.  Media, such as T.V., cause various stereotypes to come into being, whether it labels someone for the sport they play, or where they shop.  This causes a social divide.  Stereotyping separates people against each other for what they wear, rather than what they believe.

However, the media is not an infallible stereotyping machine.  People can be misread by their style choices. Kaja Perina tells a story of a woman who met a man who was dressed very poorly at a party.  Her perception of the man was changed, as he quickly became the star of the party with his sparkling personality.  This article demonstrates the idea that clothes cannot explain what type of person someone is.   Similarly, an article by three writers, N. Judd, R. Bull, and D. Galahan, explored the effects of style upon the reactions of a stranger.  In this study, they had two surveyors interview 150 strangers, one neatly dressed, and the other untidy.  Both surveyors were asking the same questions, at the same time of day, in the same public area.  The results of the experiment showed that the nicely dressed surveyor had more favorable results and subjects tended to be more cheery.  On the other hand, the unkempt surveyor had a tough time getting subjects to cooperate, and had a very unpleasant time talking to people.  People make mistakes daily.  At the University of Cincinnati, I met the people who fit into the stereotypes that they fall under for their major, but I have also met people who prove me wrong.  Engineering students can dress like fine arts students; fine arts students, who tend to be odd looking, can dress like average students.

1 Comment »

  1. I think this is a very interesting topic, and something I had never really thought of in the past. I think we all are scrutinized by our looks. I know when I look at someone I feel that I know something about their personality, but maybe I don’t know as much as I thought I did. There seems to be a need to fit everyone into a perfect cubby-hole in America, when in reality that is not true. With that said I still believe that how you dress says a lot about you. The article reminds me of a Dave Chappell stand-up comedy act in which he describes going up to a woman who is dressed provocatively and asking to take her home, she replies, “just because I am dressed this way does not make me a slut.” He then describes walking up to a police officer in uniform asking for help in a robbery to which he replies, “just because I am dressed this way does not make me a police officer.” Chappell makes an interesting point; we are all wearing uniforms of some sort that says something about who we are.

    Comment by Andrew Hare — March 9, 2011 @ 10:46 am | Reply

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