Sunday, April 29, 2012

Essay #2 English 114B

Steven Lee

Professor Dinsmore

English 114B

25 April 2012

Constructing Identity Through Clothing

Identity is the most crucial part of being human. It reflects who the person is and how they are identify in life.  Everyone has a unique identity and they are known by their identity. Identity could be defined by who the person is based on their race, gender, status, age, and etc. The most common way to identify a person is the clothing that they wear because it is the first impression that the human eye catches. Identity construction is easily done when it involves clothing because the clothing the person wears tells a lot about them. Clothing expresses a person’s identity in many different aspects and could show a person affiliation, status, and habits.
           Big White Tee shirt, baggy pants, and Cortez Nikes, we recognize the clothing that the person is wearing is related to something bad. The attire that is expressed is sometime used to represent a gang, but it became link to the fashion world as a trend.”Clothing has been closely linked to violent and sometimes deadly situations. Kids may be at risk because of their clothing choices” (Hethorn, “Gang Identity or Self-Expression?”).  It is dangerous to express identity in a certain way if the identity you are trying to pose is not who you are suppose to be. Clothing that represent something this big such as, violence, is a huge identity crisis because it leads to trouble.  Gang identity is very easy to spot and we recognize people with gang attire to be in gangs. The first impression of this clothing gives fear to people instead of a friendly gesture.
           Depending on where you are, the gang attire could mean different things. The identity shifts from the “ghettos” to the new trend in the fashion world. “To wear a red “rag” in one neighborhood may be a clear symbol of gang affiliation, but in a different area, the same item holds no meaning except as a head covering” (Hethorn, “Gang Identity or Self-Expression?”).    Wearing gang related attire in a gang affiliated neighborhood means you are identifying yourself as trouble, wearing gang related attire in a safe community is just fashion. Two different spaces, but the same clothing means different things. “The boundaries between gang style and street style are blurred, the more so as gang identifiers are quickly absorbed into fashion” (Hethorn, “Gang Identity or Self-Expression?”).   This means that clothing gives an impression of who we are, even though the identity of the clothing could be ruthless and dangerous. The identity of a gangster could also signify a location or affiliation of a group.
           Clothing affects more than affiliation, but also the social class as well. “In preindustrial times such as the Colonial Period, clothing was synonymous with a person’s position in the social structure. It not only revealed your social position and gender, but your occupation [each one had its own costume], religious affiliation, and regional origin, as well.”(Gilmore, “Fashion Trends: A Reflection of Our Political Culture” ) From colonial past, clothing already had a big impact on identity. It was used as a way to express their wealth and their accomplishment. The clothing that the rich could afford made it nearly impossible for the poor to acquire. That is what made clothing identity in the colonial period very accurate in determining a person’s wealth. Compared to modern day, clothing is much easier to get, but the fashion world of the upper-class is still impossible for a middle class salary.  "The display of status through one's clothes and other means of adornment appears to be a universal phenomenon” (Kaisert, 49). The plainness of clothing reflects the identity of being simple and cheap, the special design of clothing that people values are more complex and expensive.
           Even though modern day clothing is not as strong as an influence on social class as the colonial period, we still have brands like Banana Republic, Gucci, and other expensive brand names that reflects the persons social class. Space is also involved in changing the identity of the person with their clothing. It depends on who you are appearing to when you decide to pose your identity. Wearing expensive clothing in a public space expresses power and richness and wearing the same piece of expensive clothing that you own to family event just makes it look like you are only trying to be someone who you are not.  Identity is easily given off my clothing and the impression gained is the identity given by the public.
           The clothes we wear reflect our habits because of the appearance it uses as an impression toward other people. Changing our clothes more than three times a day means a lot because it shows the habit of caring too much about self-image. “You may throw on an outfit without much thought in the morning, but your choice is strongly affected by your mood” ("Happiness: It's Not In The Jeans."). That means if the person starts out their morning wearing unmatched clothing or something that does not fit the day; it means they just don’t care about today.  There are clothes that women categorize as happy-clothes, and clothes that they wear on a normal basis. “The study found that 'happy' clothes -- ones that made women feel good -- were well-cut, figure enhancing, and made from bright and beautiful fabrics”( "Happiness: It's Not In The Jeans." ). Clothing that reflects our mood has some detail on our identity showing some sign of incompleteness.
              Clothing identity also affects the daily habits of people who are over obsessed with their image. “There is nothing new or radical about people in western culture constructing an identity via consumer items.” (Sandell, “Shopping For a Change”).Going shopping for clothing and accessories is similar to shopping for an identity. Referring to project web’s book ,”The Surrogate” , people in the time era also had the same idea where identity could be bought. The only difference between the book and reality is that the book offers a better way to buy your identity in a better technological difference by purchasing surrogates. People who have the habit of going shopping a lot have a lot of trouble with their identity. They are constructing their identity and it is always changing because they are unsure of who or what they want to be.
              Clothing is very important when it comes to a person’s identity. It is the first thing a person spots because it is part of a person’s exterior. There is countless amount of clothing in the world; they could be cultural, religious, fashion, or anything that is used to cover a person. Different types of clothing gives people different types of impressions. “Clothing is also heavy with significance and symbolism. Sure, we might need clothing to protect us, but as humans, we love to add meaning to things that have no meaning, and so the costume – and the identity wrapped within it, is born” ( Morrigan, “Clothing, Costume, Identity, and Lack of Thereof” ). Adding meaning to ourselves with clothing make us unique, just like how everyone has a distinct difference.   Identity is easily constructed and altered with clothing because you could practically be anyone based on the way you dress.  Clothing reflects a person identity because it shows many details about the person who is wearing it.

Work Cited
Gilmore, Ardeth. “Fashion Trends: A Reflection of Our Political Culture.” Upenn, Web. 24 Apr              
Gowda, Abhava. “How Fashion Reflects Our Personality and Individual Tastes.” H2O        
              Magazine, Web. 25 Apr 2012.
Hethorn, Janet. “Gang Identity or Self-Expression?” University of California: California           
              Agriculture,   Dec 1994. Web.  24 Apr 2012.
Housiaux, Julie, et al. “Beauty And The Beast: Study On The Relationship Between Clothing   
               and Social Status.” Muohio, 19 Mar 2001. Web. 24 Apr 2012.
Kaiser, Susan B. The Social Psychology of Clothing: Symbolic Appearances in Context. New   
               York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990. Print.
Sandell, Jillian. “Shopping For a Change.” Bad Subject Collective, 1994. Web 25 Apr. 2012.
Morrigan, Leah. “ Clothing,Costume, Identity, and Lack of Thereof.” Wordpress, 17 Dec. 2010.             
              Web. 25 Apr. 2012.
University of Hertfordshire. "Happiness: It's Not In The Jeans." ScienceDaily, 8 Mar. 2012.       
              Web. 25 Apr. 2012.
Venditti, Robert, et al. "The Surrogates" Marietta: Top Shelf, 2006. Print.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Essay #2 proposal

Essay Proposal for Project Space and Text
For this essay I would be focusing on cultural/racial identity using project space and text,  Using my culture, I would be analyzing mostly the identity of people and how they are generally constructed.  For the project space part I would use immigrant vs. American born citizen as a reference on the identity that is constructed and how it is constructed. The identities of these two types of people are very different and I could relate to this a lot.  What construct a person identity? Is it where they come from? How they are raised? Or is it the main factor of how you look like?
Project Space
 I would mainly focus on how identity is constructed for an Asian American immigrant  who barely came to America. This goes for anyone else that move to a new unknown terrain. Doing this, I am focusing mostly on stereotypical comment and using tradition as an argument to explain why these things occur.  I think that space does affect a person’s culture a lot, and when you are exposed to a different culture at a young age,, you tend to adapt to it. This idea is could be compared to the older generation and their view about new technology. It is hard for them to change their routine even if it has a benefit of a shortcut.
                My identity changes when I go from home and other places. At home I have the identity of a respectful son who always listens to what his parents want to hear. At a different scenario I would transition from my Asian culture to my American culture. Things are done differently in both cultures, and I think the space affects it a lot, even if it means switching my language because of the person who I am talking to.  The city is also a difference, being in an Asian community and being in an American multi cultural institution, such as CSUN. is a big change in space.  As the space of education is strongly influencing me, I feel like my cultural identity is being lost at the same time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

As Nature Made Him Blog #2

                After finishing up the second half of, “As Nature Made Him”, it made me feel very glad to have a happy childhood. The thing that David Reimer went through was very harsh and it put him through so many psychological and physical states.  I find it impossible for David to live pass his teenage years, because it is one of the most difficult times a person goes through in school if they lack confident in them. This made him a strong person, but I don’t think there is ever a cure for a psychological problem that he had, only he could cure it himself.
                Even though the experiment seems to be a total failure, I think it is still possible because I felt that Ron and Janet, David Reimer’s parents, were too cautious about what he did. This made David doubt himself about his gender and question everything. The same goes for Dr.Money, his psychological practices is very disturbed for a child under 13 to see. His licensed should be revoked and his practice should be tabooed. David’s childhood was completely destroyed; he went through the conflict of going from one psychiatrist to another psychiatrist. He went through so many different doctors that he knew what to say what they wanted to hear. I find that once he was able to do that, a psychologist was not necessary anymore because his only problem is the forced identity that he had to play.
                From reading As Nature Made Him, I discovered that gender identity is a big issue to the world. I never thought it that way because I thought it was just male and female during birth and I thought the circumcision was a choice not a necessary process. I use to think that people have their baby circumcised because it was a religious or cultural thing and not because of a medical reason. I think that David’s play a huge role in the medical field because he went through a phase where no one had to go through before. Despite the massive bullying he had to go through, it still affected his life dramatically.
                I think if Ron and Janet just let the construction of David’s identity play it own parts, he would have had a better life. Janet should not feel guilty for the circumcision or the research study of Dr.Money because it was all an accident. The only guilt they should have is making David feel special. This made the construction of his identity fail and make him lose sight of who he should really be. From my perspective after reading this book I think nature dominates over nurture.

Monday, April 2, 2012

As Nature Made Him Blog Response #1

After reading the book, As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto, I had a strong objection to Dr.Money’s theory. I find that it was morally wrong to force a boy to think like a girl just for his success in his research. I think Dr. Money is obsessed with his theories and fame that he is forcing the two twins, David (Bruce) and Brian to act in a immoral way.  Although the appearance of David as a girl is very accurate as a child, people like his teachers could distinguish that he was not a girl. Even having this questioned made, David questioned himself as a child and it basically destroyed his whole childhood.
                David’s parent, Ron and Janet, was very concerned for David when he had his bad circumcision. There were many things that ran through their mind, especially the thought of never being happy because he would never be like other boys. They think that in society, David would never fit in because of the lost of his genital and he would not be able to for example, “have a peeing contest with other boys to see who pees the farthest. “ This blinded the parents to have Bruce become an experiment of study which affect him by confusing him of his proper gender. He was lost and could not fit in as a girl or as a boy because he looks like a girl.
                The book focuses mainly on the theory of whether not changing the gender is possible after birth.  This also put a lot of gender role involved because Dr.Money would recognize David as a girl only if he submits to playing with dolls and being neat and tidy.  There are stereotypical thing that are categorized in genders in this book such as boys playing with guns and fighting, and girls being the inferior gender by avoiding fights and being neat and tidy.  Even though David had authority as a child and was much stronger compared to Brian, Dr. Money was still blinded by his research to notice that having a boy living a female role is impossible and the same vice versa. The book provided argument from Dr. Diamond (a researcher who challenged Dr. Money’s theories) with examples such as his experiment with injected hormone before birth. This was proven to be successful because he was able to produce tomboyish girls who are manlier and their features are amplified to resemble a male.
                From my intimate reading of this book, I believe that sex determines gender.  The sex that we are made to have and the amount of testosterone or estrogen that we are expose to before birth are the result that determine our sex as a male or female.  I believe that gender is just an identity and the sex we are born with will always be the same and could not be altered.  It is impossible for a man who becomes a woman to have kids, and a woman who becomes a man to have an artificial penis that could be used in sexual intercourse to be able to reproduce. These are traits that we have to be born with and they determine our gender unless we alter them.