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Self-Identity in A Society of Trends

Fashion, music, lifestyle, thoughts and beliefs have always been influenced by trends. Looking back at past generations we can categorise each period based on the music or clothing style that marked the era: if we think of the 1940’s, we can remember the New Look or the post-war era, where the hourglass figure was trendy and highlighted by wide padded shoulders or A-line skirts; the 1970’s were the years when rock and roll’s popularity was reaching its peak, but if you mention about the 1980’s, it is more likely that Depeche Mode will come to anyone’s mind.

But what elements determine a trend? Moreover, what determines individuals to follow one?

Having a quick look at the sociological definition, a trend is a social phenomenon where the different aspects of an individual’s life occasionally change, such as behaviour in public, social-political or religious beliefs, eating habits or dressing style. Usually, the idea of a trend appears as a profound desire of change and it is created by trendsetters, groups of individuals, who wish to spread their knowledge, style with the possible intent to positively influence the society. And it works! Every trend throughout the generations began as an idea and it has been rapidly adopted by a large number of individuals who believed in it. From a standpoint, the innovative ideas have certainly helped the society evolve and improve many aspects of our lives (i.e. thinking, relationships, education, etc). However, a dilemma is posed by the questions of whether we follow a trend because we sincerely believe in it or is it a result of our desire to conform to the social norms?

If we were to answer the question based on sociological research, figures suggest that we are more likely to follow trends due to our tendency to become a part of the crowd. People are willing to adjust their decisions, desires and actions in order to be socially accepted or validated. So, should we be loved for who we are or for who the society expects us to be?

The last two decades have been a period which has put a great emphasis on self-identity, where motivational speakers, celebrities and psychologists tried (and continue trying) to support individuals in discovering their true self. Unfortunately, the reality does not illustrate that. In the recent years, we have noticed a massive number of women and girls undergoing surgery in the hope of resembling their idols; individuals who radically change or adopt new religious or political beliefs with the desire to impose them on others. Therefore, it could be said that social phenomenon create a mechanism of suppression of the self-identity and not an actualisation of it.

The consequences of the repression of self-identity in the modern social life may be as damaging as any violence committed against an individual. Having a brief look at the clinical reports, there is an alarmingly increased number of depressive patients, in particular youngsters and women. In the pursuit of adopting someone else’s styles, looks, and beliefs, individuals are prone to experience a sense of personal meaningless (or absence of authenticity); in other words, a separation from their self and their actual goals or morals. As such, they measure their self-worth and accomplishments based on the standards set by the society or influenced by their idols, unconsciously ignoring or dismissing their purpose, strengths, and desires.

While history has taught us the repercussions of imposing social ideas or beliefs on the populations, the modern society continues sublimely exerting an influence on individuals’ overall understanding of what is acceptable and what is not; what is “fashionable” or what is old school.

Ideally would be to constantly remind people of all ages and genders that the only standard they should meet is theirs. The goals they set for themselves should be in accordance with their calling, their personality, and personal beliefs.

Ideally would be to raise awareness among youngsters that their looks should not match their idols’ style or physical appearances as each one of us is unique, special and beautiful.

Ideally would be to remind women that surgery or usage of hundreds of makeup products are not always the ONLY options to put in light their qualities.

Being yourself, with a personal voice and personal style will certainly attract admiration and a wonderful sense of fulfilment and self-worth.

Unless we base our sense of identity upon the truth of who we are, it is impossible to attain true happiness” – Brenda Shoshanna

 

 

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