A person is being judged and labeled whether he or she belongs to the upper class, lower class or an ethnic group through his or her physical appearance. Any judgment that is made is anchored from his or her physical features such as skin color, clothes and personal adornments. The subsequent photos seek to respond on the theory of Entwistle, which states that:
“How we perform our identity has something to do with our location in the social world as members of particular groups, classes and cultural communities. The clothes we choose to wear represent a compromise between the demands of the social world, the milieu in which we belong, and our own individual desires” (Entwistle, 114).
The picture of the African herder gives an implication that he belongs to the lower class of the society, which is discerned through the worn out and ragged shirt that he wears. That reality abides with the theory of Entwistle which entails that the status of an individual does reflect in his clothes. The herder’s appearance entails, if he has to be considered as part of the group of African people, that Africans are poor.
Figure 2. African People
It will be a hasty generalization, however, the fact that Africa belongs to the third world countries. The idea that African’s fashion statement, considering the other pictures of African people (figure 2), mirrors their status in the society. Nevertheless, the clothes are not just mere reflections of one’s status in the society. It also reveals the culture and economic status of those particular groups.
Figure 3. The Upper Class
On the other hand, figure 3 represents the upper class in the society. They are Americans; definitely, they belong in the upper class of the developed country. Their fashion statement divulges those crafted verdicts.
Their physical appearances support the judgments. The men are wearing coat and tie and the women possess jewelries, indications that they belong to the well-to-do class.
The featured pictures bestow the core idea of Entwistle’s theory that the way people act has something to do with their status in the social realm, that the way they wear and choose particular clothing illustrates the culture and class that they belong to. However, taken into consideration the era of the modern world, it is now hard to discern and to judge a person as to where status he or she belongs, whether he or she is from the upper, lower or working class in the society. Take a look at figure 4.
Figure 4. “Poor People Modeling Obscenely Expensive Clothes”
According to Jennifer Romolini, staff of Shine, “poor people [are] modeling obscenely expensive clothes!” That is the most recent Vogue India’s August issue controversy in 2008. The picture portrays a toothless, barefoot man, who is most likely living on about $1.25 a day, carrying an umbrella that is worth $200. The woman is carrying $10,000 Birkin bag and the children has $100 Fendi bibs (2008). The ordinary Indians who serve as paragons reveal “the power of fashion. It is no longer rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful” (quoted Romolini, 2008).
That very idea supports the second statement of Entwistle’s theory which states that,
“The clothes we choose to wear represent a compromise between the demands of the social world, the milieu in which we belong, and our own individual desires.” Because nowadays, people, regardless if they are rich or poor, already abide with the trend so they cooperate with the demands of the social realm and they satisfy their desire by wearing and buying branded clothes, personal adornments and jewelries.
Fashion statement in the course of history has helped in the identity construction, cultural representation and status depiction. Our clothes speak of who we are and what we are.
It mirrors our economic conditions and personal desires and aspirations. However, status in the society does not have to be judged just by the clothes we wear because most of us go with the fad. Everything is just a matter of choice because there are also rich people who are not accustomed to buy branded clothes or what is trendy because there are some who believe that fashion is an expression of one’s self, not just a mere reflection of culture, social and economic condition that we belong.
Romolini, R. (2008, September 3). Poor People Modeling Obscenely Expensive Clothes: The Latest Vogue Controversy. Shine. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from http://astrology.yahoo.com/channel/beauty/poor-people-modeling-obscenely-expensive-clothes-the-latest-vogue-controversy-249716/.