Dress Is a Pivotal Form of Communication - Discuss

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Dress is a Pivotal Form of Communication – Discuss

Introduction

An individual’s image can be viewed as a pivotal form of communication. This is particularly more apparent among teenagers in society and in certain workforces. This essay will explore the basis of the above claims. In the process this essay will provide examples of evidence to support these claims.

Western society does not condone nakedness in public places. Governments impose indecent exposure laws to prevent people choosing to be naked in a public place. Therefore, clothes are a necessity. Weather conditions create a need for certain clothes and these clothes, for example a coat, serve a functional purpose. Apart from this, there are many other reasons people wear clothes and chose the clothes they do.

Appearance is one of the first factors the average person will take into consideration when judging an individual on their first encounter with them. This is often a human defence mechanism; the person will decide whether the particular individual they are looking at is possibly a danger to them. They often base this assumption on their memory’s history of previous individuals they have encountered and what type of person they were.

Appearance, especially dress is a form of nonverbal communication. Dress can express a certain image and personality that the wearer wants to communicate to people. First impressions are often important in certain situations for example a job interview. Most people will initially judge the candidate on their appearance, before the candidate even gets to verbalise their personality. (Dimbleby, 1998)

Upon initial contact with a person, their appearance conveys a number of instant statements. Their appearance can communicate their age, gender, personality, social group, occupation or the type of music they listen to. The individual can alter many of these factors of their appearance, and chose which variation they want the viewer to judge them by.

“When an individual enters the presence of others, they commonly seek to acquire information about him or bring into play information already possessed…information about the individual helps to define the situation, enabling others to know in advance what he will expect of them and they may expect of him” (Goffman, 1959)

People often wear clothes for other reasons that wanting to convey a certain type of image. They also dress a particular way to show their occupational status, for example a policeman or a rabbi. Their uniform gives the message that they have a specific profession and which ever level they are at in that profession. Their dress portrays a message to other people. When a policeman puts on his uniform he can show people that he is a figure of authority and a person whom they can call if they are in danger. Without his uniform he is but another civilian. His dress alone changes a person’s expectation of him.

Apart from actual clothing, people use hairstyles, tattoos, jewellery and piercings as part of their dress. A wedding ring is enough of a sign for a person to show other people they are married.

Some criminals in Ireland and other parts of the world get tattoos to represent how long they have spent in prison. Many get small ‘dots’ tattooed on each knuckle to show the length of their prison term, others get teardrops under their eye or a spider web on their elbow. These images have become associated with criminals. When a person encounters another person with any of these tattoos a common reaction would be to feel fearful, as they know this person has broken the law before and they don’t know if they will do it again. And perhaps this is the required effect sought out by the criminal. It’s a natural human reaction to feel anxious and afraid if they are in contact with a person whom, judging on appearance may be a danger to them. (DeMello, 2000)

Many American gangs have a strict dress code, non adherence to the dress code can result in...
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