Wednesday, January 09, 2008

From fashion to fanaticism

I started writing this blog about a month ago but got a little bogged down trying to finish the piece, I still don't think all the ideas are fully baked..., but here goes (one more draft blog posted)...

I heard the news about Aqsa Parvez in the paper on Tuesday Dec 11th. That same morning I had an argument with my son about what was appropriate to wear to go to his field trip outing to the theatre. Now, I hope I can get some of the following ideas down without sounding ridiculous in my comparison of a trivial argument about fashion with my son to the tragic murder of the Muslim girl who wanted to be normal and not wear her hijab. There are few reasons I can think of why we wear what we do.
  1. We want to look cool | sexy | elegant | wealthy | stylish to attract the opposite sex (and differentiating yourself from the other neanderthals drinking Labbat's Blue beside you).
  2. We want to wear something that makes us look different.
  3. We want to wear something that makes us fit in and look "normal".
This last point is the first one I'd like to explore. We don't just pick clothes that everyone else wears so we look normal, but rather most people pick clothes that are appropriate for the situation. When we are presenting a business proposal we dress in a way that says we know what we're talking about, we're serious about your business, we respect the way you do business and ultimately that we have credibility. We "belong" in that meeting. I think you can take this base level idea of looking like we belong or presenting an appearance that shows our credibility to many, if not all situations. Think of the fashionable young store clerk working at H&M; the bouncer outside the punk concert; a doctor; the golfer, a politician; or a teenager. Some people want to look different. They go against the grain of normal to stand out in a crowd - like the business man who wears a bow tie, the leading edge flashionista that looks ridiculous until you see the same outfit being worn by Gwen Stefani; or the teenage punk who has gone retro and has a mohawk. Some want to be noticed, some don't give a s* what other people think.

What's perhaps missing here is another angle, one where you gain respect and credibility for being different or not going with the trend or the norm. There are some famous people that became famous for this very reason, whether that be Andy Warhol, Boy George or Johnny Cash. But many of us, gain respect from simply having credibility in our jobs and pursuits. When first impressions count, appearing and sounding like we belong is the easiest and quickest way to that credibility and respect.

With kids, although our best intentions and
ideologies promote independent thinking for our children, we can't help it, but we know they are a reflection of us. They reflect how you have raised them and what your ideals may be. Is that fair, perhaps not, but it's understandable.

In most cases, people simply disagree with the grades of appropriateness, i.e one person cringes at the idea of wearing jeans and running shoes to a business meeting, while another may be
ok with jeans for a visiting California exec with a nice pair of shoes. In in most cases, these disagreements are harmless. It's when extreme reactions (religious and fanatical, e.g. football hooligan team colours) exceed common sense that we should perhaps take note of.

No comments: