By: Emily Powell
Religion has affected fashion throughout its development. Clothes were originally worn for modesty or to worship the Gods. Fashion is now less practical and used as a form of self-expression. Regardless fashion still has symbolism. What do the clothes you wear say about you? What are you trying to say about yourself? We are taught at a young age not to judge people based on their appearance. Although there is an underlying reason, a higher influence, to why you wear what you do. A trend now is to wear your hair in a poof and cheetah print head to foot to imitate the cast of jersey shore. Imitation is known as the highest form of a compliment but when people dress this way what are they complimenting? Their role models and their role models’ behavior? This goes for any celebrity. Fashion may be a representation of morals but can it change your actions? In high school some girls develop eating disorders so they can fit into these clothes that “make” you popular. America needs to promote morals from a different manufacturer and leave clothes for girls to play dress-up. The Media’s abuse of fashion has created it into a producer of morals for the American culture. Fashion has an effect on personal actions, role models, and cultural morals. Fashion is impacting our life rather than just draping it.
Fashion portrays its own morals for the American people, which are shown through changing one’s personal actions. People’s actions are reflected based on the way that they dress. An article called “Attitudes and Attitude Change” written by Kevin Spaulding is a breakdown of the human behavior based on various influences. Spaulding talks about a theory called stereotype threat. The article talks about how social groups will monitor their behavior because they do not want to fit a cultural stereotype. It goes on to say how these stereotypes based on the clothes and other variables can change how you act. People dress a certain way because they are trying to convey a certain message, good or bad. This shows that fashion does affect your actions and your morals. It talks about how humans may purposely act different than normal so they will not fit in a certain niche. It also talks about how people will act the way they do because they are trying to fit into a mold. Either way, fashion is a way to express yourself and also a message. These massages are talked about in a research article by Philip moon called “8 Historic Symbols That Mean the opposite of what you think”. One of the 8 historic figures that’s meaning is misunderstood is a fashion trend of today! The inverted cross is a symbol of Saint Peter. Saint peter asked to be nailed to the cross upside down because he did not believe he deserved to die the same way Jesus did. Both The inverted cross is a sign of humility. The inverted cross started to be a fashion icon when heavy metal bands started wearing them as a sign of satin worship. They are now an accessory trend seen on earrings and necklaces. This fashion trend conveys one’s personal values like humility and is also a religious reference. This symbol means something different to every social group no matter what its original meaning was. The inverted cross and stereotypes show how a group that is targeted by a style is expected to have a moral agenda along with its specific look. Religious groups dress in a certain way to convey their unity in a belief. Maybe stereotypes are purposely formed by groups because they are trying to become recognizable through a unified look. Maybe Fashion comes with a cult mentality. The inverted cross is an example of subliminal messages and personal actions shown through fashion.
Fashion creates values for the American people through the moral influence of trend role models and fashion icons. As human beings we are impressionable especially at a young age. We look to role models for guidance. In an article called “Inventing Barbie” it talks about the social importance of the doll. Elliot and Ruth Handler the creators of Mattel toys came up with the idea for Barbie when they realized their daughter was using her paper dolls to play out more adult like situations like dates and other social events. They then decided the doll needed to be three dimensional to be more realistic. Ta-da Barbie was born. Barbie was controversial for her time because of her scandalous wardrobe. The clothing of Barbie started showing up in actual stores. Barbie shows how fashion can influence how others dress, not just little girls! Ruth Handler said, “Barbie’s clothing needed to change to coordinate with society’s expectations and aspirations” Barbie was advertised as a role model for young girls to imitate. With the creation of Ken the teaching relationships and manners were added to the parenting list of what this doll could do. After the woman’s rights movement Barbie started to come with less homemaker items and more business oriented ones. Barbie was no longer married but would babysit instead of have kids. The Mattel company had this to say when addressing the topic of a pregnant Barbie “ A pregnant Barbie would tarnish her perfect figure and make her slightly too domestic.” Barbie not only showed girls how to dress and act but now how to look. Barbie influences the body image of those growing up with the doll. The doll has been criticized for her physic. Her body shows little girls a false image of a woman. To many children the doll acts as an embodiment of what you have to become to be socially accepted. Barbie is a database within herself. Looking back one can tell the fashion and morals expected from a certain generation. Barbie as a fashion icon proves that the morals of the American people are determined through fashion.
An article called “Religion, Fashion often at odds” by Richard N. Oslind, a writer for the Enquirer, talks about the controversial wardrobe rule change in the Miss America Pageant. This year the Pageant is allowing two piece bathing suits for the first time. Erin Curry the Miss America winner for this year states, “The wardrobe change implies the emphasis has been moved from scholarship to sex appeal to gain viewers.” 42 contestants decided to bare it all and wear bikinis on stage. Little girls are supposed to look up to these Miss America Contestants. They are now looking up to women in their bikinis. Maybe there’s more to these bathing suits than cosmetic.
These role models have a huge impact on what is to be accepted in the American culture. These girls are trying to win the scholarship by flaunting their body instead of their brain. This puts the importance on the physical look. In our capitalistic society everyone is trying to climb the ladder. Wearing skimpy clothing to get ahead may work but what does that say about the American people? It shows what think is important to us through what we wear and what our role models wear. Clothing shows your morals and if you have self-worth.
These articles show the moral influence role models and fashion icons can put on our upcoming generation. They address the future that will be affected by fashions actions today. Children look up to these role models like Miss America contestants and Barbie as an embodiment of what they strive to be when they become a teenager. The youth act of the actions of their role models through their dolls forecasting how they will act when older. They pick out these dolls clothes dreaming of their closet when they grow up. Barbie’s closet is filled with midriffs and daisy dukes. Barbie has stayed from aprons to business to physical freedom, along with the Miss America Pageant. Role models can be cold hard plastic or bare flesh. Either way Role models convey a message through their clothing.
Fashion creates morals by reflecting the cultural values of its time. An article called “Revealing Fashion- Throughout History Fashion Has Conveyed the Politics and Culture of an Era” refers to the culture shock and later cultural acceptance of Janet Jacksons wardrobe “malfunction” at the Super Bowl. This article questions the role fashion takes in America and world history. It goes on to state, “The theme of morality has always been at the forefront of fashion controversy. It talks about how Colonial times in America were all about fashion and its meaning. The condition of the state was shown through the fashion of its people. Regulating fashion was a way those in charge could protect their provinces’ morality. This article speaks of political events resulting in clothing changes. The women’s rights movement resulted in shorter and looser garments. It was women’s time to feel comfortable in their clothes for the new life style they were taking on in the workplace. A well-known part of the movement was the burning of bras. Women who didn’t wear this garment were showing that they were not going to be constrained any longer. They were representing through their clothing their belief in equality. In World War 2 embargos with china made silk very rare. This political event changed the fashion materials of this era. The spirit of each generation is shown through the cultural expression of clothing. Women not wearing bras are a prime example of clothing conveying ones moral agenda.
Fashion influences the morals of America. Fashion impacts ones moral actions based on stereotypes and meaningful memorabilia. Fashion influences the public through trend role models and fashion icons that set an example of what is appropriate for the American people. Fashion influences The morals of the American culture through its reflection of political and social events. The future of America will be affected by fashions actions today. There is a relationship between morals and clothing. So, why do you wear what you wear?
“8 Historic Symbols That Mean The Opposite of What You Think | Cracked.com.” Cracked.com – America’s Only Humor & Video Site Since 1958 | Cracked.com. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://www.cracked.com/article_18606_8-historic-symbols-that-mean-opposite-what-you-think.html>.
Ostling, Richard N. “Religion, Fashion Often at Odds.” Enquirer.Com. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/10/20/tem_1020missamerica.html>.
“Attitudes and Attitude Change – a Knol by Kevin Spaulding.” Knol – a Unit of Knowledge: Share What You Know, Publish Your Expertise. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://knol.google.com/k/attitudes-and-attitude-change>.
“Inventing Barbie.” American Studies @ The University of Virginia. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~class/am483_95/projects/barbie/barb2.html>.
“UT Feature Story — Revealing Fashion: Throughout History, Fashion Has Conveyed the Politics and Culture of an Era.” Home | The University of Texas at Austin. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2004/fashion.html>.
By: Emily Powell