Aspects of Identity and Fashion

I spotted these purses at a place where the archaic fashions of years passed go to die, Goodwill. Using Cooley’s discussion of how self emerges through an interactive social process, I look at all the items I find in Goodwill as tools the actors once used to set the stage for their performance as a person.

People bought these items because they liked how they imagined they would appear in them, or the first of Cooley’s three aspects of identity. They would then think about how others would judge them for wearing these items. If the clothing they had purchased was out of style, not flattering, or said something negative about them, the person could develop feelings of shame, the third aspect of identity. When those feelings of shame developed because of a handbag, it is time to donate it. Each of these purses could have gone from a prop to a source of shame as the culture industry shifted its definition of fashion.

Questions for Research:

1. What are the different sources of shame between men and women?

2. How often does how a person imagine they appear resemble how they actually appear to those around them?

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