In the world that we live in today there are many things that we are unsure of, for instance the more complicated things like, “Is the stock market going to crash tomorrow?” or even the simpler things such as, “What am I going to have for dinner tonight”. When it comes to things that we as individuals are sure of on a daily basis it would be these three principles, Identity, Self-image, and Self-esteem. While all three of these things can very easily become changed and influenced by society it ultimately comes down to our individual choosing to be the type of person that we want to be for whatever reasons we may have. That is the beautiful thing about the country that we live in, the United States of America, which allows people to freely express themselves in any way that they deem fit regardless of the public perception of that lifestyle. Although the freedom to express yourself as whatever you would like it allowed from a legal perspective there could be other social consequences attributed with that lifestyle, but it ultimately comes down to the individual to accept it and continuing living their life in whatever way the please.
Identities are very important because they allow individuals to find the place in society where they belong to be on their own choosing. The definition of identity as said by George P. Stone is, “a coincidence of placements and announcement… he is situated, that is, cast in the shape of a social object by the acknowledgement of his participation or membership in social relations” (Stone). Influences such as television advertisements, shows, movies, and magazines are just some examples of things that could help to influence the identity of an individual but ultimately it comes down to the person to decide what they want to be a part of, which in hand will help to form their identity. There are no two people that have the exact same identity and that in essence is the beauty of the matter because all of the things that we do in our lives, big or small, help shape the identity of each and every one of us.
The next important principle in determining who exactly an individual is would be the ideal of self-image. Similar to the principle of identity, self-image can be vastly impacted by the ideals of the culture that an individual is placed in and those impacts can be positive or negative. “Culture presents us with the qualities that are deemed important and that people feel they ought to possess or seek.” (Lynxwiler). Self-image ranges from clothes we wear, things we own, the way we act towards others, etc. and all factor in together to help form an overall self-image. Our self-image can be easily influenced not on by television and movies, but simply the people around us and those influences will play a big role in determining an individual’s image in society. An individual’s self-image will ultimately change as much as we allow it to but it is inevitable that no matter where you go, the society and culture that you are a part of will influence every individual’s self-image to help them become more of a part of that community.
Last but not least, the most important attribute one can have towards and individuals being is, self-esteem. “Self-esteem is thus the affective dimension of self-objectification. Our perceptions of self are not merely cognitive efforts to decide who we are and what we are like, for we have emotional responses to what we see.” (Lynxwiler). This attribute is very similar to self-image as they work hand in hand with one another simply because one leads to the next. Self-image is the way that we present ourselves in every way in society and self-esteem is thus the way we react to the reaction of society to our image, whether that be in a good or bad way. The way that we act around others in society and the way that they react to our actions, and vice verso, plays a big role in determining the type of self-esteem that a person will have. No two people will have the same amount of lack of self-esteem because simply different things have different amounts of impact on people. As crazy as this may sound, the less that we care about what society thinks about what we do, the greater our self-esteem will be.
Society can play a big role in impacting the way that we look and feel about
ourselves but it ultimately comes down to the individual’s acceptance or denial of those impacts to determine how we feel about ourselves and how we choose to live our lives.
This past week my entire family, nuclear and extended, all twenty-two of us, went on a week long cruise on Royal Caribbean International’s, Independence of the Seas, so that is why the article by T.R. Young is the perfect one to describe my observations. We are tasked with describing the different identities and meanings of the things we observed and what a better way to do that than to be on a ship for a week surrounded by 3,500 people from 126 different countries. Going around and seeing all of the ways people dress and act from so many different places has helped me to gain a larger perspective of ways that people from all over the world act, similar and not similar to American ways. The areas that I spent my time observing people was at the lunch and dinner restaurants as well as the pool decks, where I spent most of my overall time when I was on the ship. The focus of the article is based on the way that clothing can have an impact on the way people view the self and being around this many different people, I have a plethora of information to work with.
“The tee shirt is the uniquely postmodern medium that young people have found to speak out. We can read these tee shirts as text, deconstruct them and, thus, help reconstruct a world in which young people can give voice to those concerns.” (Young). From the moment that we arrived in port to set sail at the beginning of the week from the time that we left one week later, the most popular article of clothing found on people young and old, was the tee shirt. Whether it be the fraternity/sorority members with shirts for events, rush, philanthropy, etc., the sports teams shirts, to shirts that show where people have visited, all of the above help to describe what type of individual that person is without even saying a word to them. If you walked around on the ship with clothing of one of the teams playing in the NBA or NHL Finals you instantly made friends to cheer with and enemies to root against when the teams played. Clothing helps individuals to present themselves in a way that they are proud of what they are wearing and what it represents and to help them find other people with the same ideals or
mentalities as themselves.
Another thing that I did notice was that you never saw a crew member wearing a tee shirt, only shirts with buttons and a collar, unless they worked in the kids clubs, in my guess to try to maintain a real business look. “Clothing has, for most of human history, been used to infinite permutation with voice and body to help define a situation…”(Young). When you went to any of the buffet places to eat such as the Windjammer Café, you would be greeted and surrounded by crewmembers wearing bright blue Hawaiian flowery shirts that brought a vacation feeling to the area. When it came time for the formal dinner every night it was all business as you would see all the crew members from the assistant waiters to the cruise ship captain dressed in their finest suits to show that real professional service that people are paying for. So depending on the time of day and where you are located on the ship the apparel of the employees that are around you will reflect the type of vibe that the ship is trying to give off.
The biggest variation when it came to different clothing types you would see would most definitely have to be walking around by the pools. “The analysis of clothing is located in the larger process by which social reality is constructed. (Young)”. Depending on what type of the world that an individual was from would reflect the type of bathing suit, or lack thereof, that the person wore. This is not considered stereotyping due to the fact that these observations only do apply to the people that were observed while on this ship as if may not reflect the entire group of people as a whole somewhere else. Many older men from European countries would be seen rocking their small thongs while walking around the pool deck, to the dismay of most. Many women would be seen around the pool decks wearing their bikinis, some of which from certain countries would be showing a lot more skin than others. While most people would be in what is considered the “normal attire” when it comes to bathing suits, there will always be exceptions cause in most cases, people are free to choose to wear whatever they please.
The different types of clothing that was seen being worn by crewmembers and guests sailing on the ship varied to the extremes, but for the most part it
helped to show the types of clothing that people are accustomed to wearing from different parts of the globe. When you put people from so many countries across the globe together on a “floating city at sea” you are bound to come across some things that you are not accustomed to seeing and that in itself is part of the beauty of going on cruises because you become exposed to and familiarized with the ways that different people dress. The way that people dress is an extension of their personalities that the whole world can see and clothing will for the most part be one of the last undying freedoms that many of us get to employ across the globe.
The way that one’s self is made is comprised of three things; identity, self-image, and self-esteem, all of which play very important roles in making the body of work that each individual person possesses. All three work hand in hand and have a significantly influence on the others, which shows how important it is to be balanced with all three of them. The most beautiful thing about these three concepts is that no two people have the exact same feelings and outcomes as each other that allows us to be engulfed by the amount of diversity that is in the world. Individual confidence is key to being able to be comfortable with yourself regardless of the people and culture you are around because at the end of the day it us up to you to decide the type of person that you want to be regardless of what everyone else is telling you to do. Understanding how a person operates can be a very daunting task to accomplish, but comprehending the ideals of identity, self-esteem, and self-image, will make you able to understand any person that you will come across in your lifetime anywhere around the world.
Young, T.R. (1983). Underground structures of the democratic state. Mid-American Review of Sociology, 7(2).
Gregory P. Stone and John Lynxwiler. Writing Assignment Three Information. Identity. Self-image. Self-esteem.