Keane – Everybody’s Changing
This article is not going to teach you anything new – like the other ones by the way. It’s just a one of my useless reflections on a social reality hehe.
Everybody knows it interiorly. But we never realize it’s THAT universal, THAT veracious until they expose it to you through a theory or a sociological concept. Somebody shared this knowledge with me one day – or rather, one semester lol – , and now, I am going to share it with you, just because I like you and you’re worth it and because Sharing is Caring *wink wink*.
And I am going to prove you it’s true with, again, my personal experience. (Sorry if I have to blabla so much about myself, it’s just that since I know myself more than I know other people, it’s easier to explain my story, it’s not because I am narcissistic)
So, the agenda of today is … *drum roll* Fashion to imitate or distinguish yourself ! From what? That’s what we are going to see more in details.
Personally speaking : Fashion as my “Colorful Revolution”
It’s gonna be so cliché of me to say that but I don’t care : we never forget where we come from. No matter where we are, no matter where we go.
After spending 4 years in a « foreign » environment, I think I can affirm it out loud. Going from modest suburbs to hyped neighborhoods of Paris in only one day, believe me, I know what I am talking about. No need to say I used to feel uncomfortable at Sciences Po and in Paris 7e, to feel I was not at my proper place for a long time. First of all, it came from me obviously : it was because I was not used to that kind of environment, because it was all new for me. But other external elements made me feel that too, whispering diabolically to me « oh sweetie, you should not be here ».
The very first week of school at Sciences Po, we had what we call an « Integration week » where you have to do oral presentations in diverses places of Paris and debates in class with the comrades of your group. One day, we had one debate about « affirmative action », and of course, as I am SOOOO lucky, I was in the team of people who had to defend « affirmative action ». The problem was, I was definitely too committed, too subjective, too involved in that story in facts as well as emotionally speaking. Because yes, I got into Sciences Po Paris thanks to the CEP process, aka Sciences Po’s kind of hybrid affirmative action – thank you Richie <3. So, of course, when I argued, I took my own personal experience to defend the point of view. But, other major problem here : since I am a freaking emotional spontaneous girl who can not canalize herself and control her emotions, I shed a tear. OKAY OKAY FINE, I shed A COUPLE TEARS – and it was not even « that time of the month ». But I was not the only one being too implicated. Some people were too committed in the topic too. And there was this one guy, who was definitely not in favor of this practice. Fine. Fine. It was his point of view and I respect it. People have different conceptions of life and we have to tolerate the difference. But the thing is, he attacked me personally, whereas everybody shared their point of view without being judgmental or attacking other people personally. At the end of the debate, we had to share feedbacks and do « constructive criticism ». This stupid guy said something like, I can’t remember his precise words, but it was the spirit of his sentence :
« you should’ve played more for the crying part ».
OH. COME ON ! LIKE I FAKED MY TEARS. PFF. When he saw my reaction, as I obviously didn’t take the critic too well, he added : « I mean, if it was a real debate, you should have pushed the acting more, it would have been more convincing ». Since that day, I told myself that if he ever crosses my way again one day, I will look at him in the eyes, not say hello to him, and even worse : I WON’T SMILE AT HIM (Care Bear type of threat lol). Since that day, I also told myself I would never wear moccasins or boat shoes or pants which are short enough so that people can see my ankles because he wore that and I didn’t want to be like him.
(YES, THESE ARE THE SHOES IN QUESTION.)
More than only THIS guy, I had the impression Sciences Po wanted to erase my personality, my specificities, my essence, my myself, the profound nature of my being. (ahaha it sounds so ego-centrical when I say this. Like a prestigious school such as Sciences Po had time to deal with a little brat like me lol !) But I had elements which made me think that, I swear. I was not feeling that from nothing. You want a proof? When I was in freshman year, I had this History teacher (who was so nice) who told me one day to change my writing style, because keeping on writing in such a way was not doing myself any favors. His exact words were
« your writing style is… not academic enough. It is too oral, too dynamic. It is not adapted to the university criterias. You should make it more conventional Miss C*** ».
I’m not “mad” at this teacher because I know he said it with goodwill and for my own sake. But a lot of other teachers told me to change my speaking style too. They used to tell me it was unconventional, too familiar, and that I had too many verbal tics that I should erase. And that’s why I was on the defensive. There was too many elements showing me the way I am was not appropriate.
So, all these elements gathered together reinforce that feeling that I was not at my proper place, that I shouldn’t be there, that I didn’t fit in. During my first and second years at Sciences Po, I often had the impression that the institution wanted to erase our differences rather than valorise them. I had the impression that everything was so conformist over there, that if you were slightly different from the norm, you were not welcome. When you think like that, as time goes by, you end up doubting about your place there ; doubting about your legitimacy to study in that school ; being disgusted just thinking of the possibility you can look like them ; being tempted in front of this uniformisation and « big brain factory » to claim even more your differences. And that’s EXACTLY WHAT I DID. I already had an over flashy-eccentric style before the college period, but facing this « foreign and hostile territory », I made it even MORE eccentric. I was cultivating my sartorial difference, doing some soft resistance in front of this ambient conformism where I thought people wanted to confine me. You can say this resistance was kiddish, and that « conformist people » like I thought back then were just growing up and becoming adults. You can say the problem came from me, that I was immature and that I didn’t want to accept the fact that people had to dress like societal norms demands us to. You can say that. But I was so stubborn that at that time, I’d rather stay in my stupidity than enter in others’ stupidities. I still am stubborn and still think like this today : I dress like I want and not like people want me to. But I’m less in that logic of « my style as an armour ». Fashion was and is my « colorful revolution » , my « colorful resistance ». It was a way to differentiate myself from this subcultural group of Sciences Po students and claim my affiliation and belonging to the suburban youth cultural group.
So, based on my personal story, you can see that Fashion is a way to distinguish yourself from certain groups and integrate yourself in others, Fashion is both distinction and imitation.
Concepts, authors a.k.a. tools to show off in front of your friends
The author Georg Simmel theorized that. And all my argumentation is essentially based on his theory. Basically, he affirmed that the whole world of Fashion runs with that tension between Imitation and Distinction.
Explanation : The Elite is the trendsetter in the Fashion world. They wear specific styles, and finally, these styles are spread all over society. Why? Because middle classes begin to adopt it to try to look like this Upper class and to be assimilated with them, and progressively, everybody adopts it to look like this Elite. Finally, as soon as middle classes adopt this trend launched by the Elite, people constituting this latter adopt a new one to distinguish themselves from lower classes.
Sociology taught me that too. Can’t remember the authors sorry ahahaha it dates back to my years in high school, that is to say 5 years ago and my poor memory is not that optimal lol. You imitate the style of the subculture you want to integrate, and differentiate yours from the ones of the other subcultural groups you don’t want to be assimilated with. Like Gothic people « against » Hip Hop lovers for example (I know it is too caricatural, but it was the first example that came to my mind)
Putting in perspective
Of course, I don’t put everybody in the same bag, I don’t want to do an amalgam. Thanks Lord every Sciences Po student is different : I met such incredible people over there, who care for others, are nicer than characters in cartoons, who have a heart full of goodwill and a sense of humor non negligible. Contrary to what a lot of people can think about this school, people studying there are not the same : Sciences Po students are not the stereotype of judgmental-arrogant-spoiled-Parisian-Bobo you can imagine. This school is really eclectic. We really have to stop judging a book by its cover. And I am going to begin with me ahaha.
I learned that Fashion should not only work in this logic of « me against the world », it should not only be a « culture shock » and a permanent fight of different styles against each other. Fashion is about sharing differences with others too.
I also learned that conformism and difference are relatives, that one thing you consider « original » is perceived as « common » through other’s eyes.
These are going to be my final words. And yes, it is my last word Jean Pierre.