Surface and Substance

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There is a salient relationship between aesthetic pleasure and the individual. Virginia Postrel's essay "Surface and Substance" argues that society must accept "that aesthetic pleasure is an autonomous good (Postrel 436)." Society as a whole must refrain from holding those with aesthetic preferences in low regards. Individual's presentations of himself or herself define his or her own form, therefore expressing their character. The perceived significance of aesthetics and individualism indicates that we as a society are free. Individuality sets individuals apart, as well as different groups of people, races, and cultures. Postrel's construction of surface in her essay "Surface and Substance" indeed promises individuality by annotating the term fashion and delivering real-life examples of individuality through the exterior and the positive significance it leaves on society.

Some may think that valuing aesthetics makes one shallow or uneducated. In fact, Postrel believes the opposite is quite true. In reality, the value of aesthetics to others may help define those lost in the crowd as his or her own individual with likes, dislikes, and an acquired personal taste. Appearance in hairstyle and clothing may help express emotion and interests. For instance, Betty (a pessimist) woke up late for work, stubbed her toe, and spilled coffee on her outfit. Her next choice in apparel may be black and her hair and make-up may be careless, thus indicating her dark dreadful mood held throughout the course of the day. Betty is blatantly exhibiting her bad mood to her co-workers through her outward appearance and demeanor. Similarly, aesthetics may help some express their cultural differences, ethnic background, and sense of taste. For example, Sally is an American Indian and is very spirited about her ethnicity inasmuch that she enjoys wearing moccasins and leather vests indicating her ancestral tribe. She, indeed, is displaying her sense of self and...
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