Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Conformity or personal style which would you chose?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21302 points ) May 30th, 2010

Between conformity and independent style which do you think is better and which would you choose? When many schools in the area started to go to uniforms many did not like it, they felt it took the individuality away from the kids and made them basically all cookie cutter examples of one another. Others loved the ideal, they did not have to worry about what they bought or if they can afford the “look”. If one has a persona style, hobby, activity that is harmless but aggravates people or they chose to few it as annoying should that person change what they do to better please the masses? To keep the societal peace would you be willing to be that “Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”? And if people should alter who they are to “fit in”, blend, conform or guard against rubbing others the wrong way, who should and who shouldn’t?

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19 Answers

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I started to answer that if your question is truly about conformity/independent style, the example of school uniforms isn’t a good one, because all clothing is some sort of uniform, identifying you with a group. There is no such thing as true personal style when it comes to clothing.

I am the antithesis of the type of parent that you would think would send a child to a parochial school, yet both of mine attended for most of grade school, and when they transferred to public school, one would occasionally wear her uniform to public school. As she put it, “it’s blue, it’s white, it works.” I believe the work of children is to study in school, and uniforms are their work clothes. Much in the same way that I wear “work clothes” to work, and dress differently in the evenings and weekends, the idea that children have “work clothes” for going to school.

My children were not in school to “free express,” they were there to learn. They were encouraged to have personal choice and free expression in their off time. School is only once place that you learn, but what you learn there is a foundation for learning elsewhere.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@PandoraBoxx School was just one example but I chose it because its intent is to promote sameness, however when the kids are not in school they can dress as they please or their parents allow. Many choose to dress or not as their peers. If one should dress or have a personal style that rankers the nerves of those they cross or hav frequent contact with, be it a goth style, gansta style, those silly droopy slacks, should they or anyone else not exercise that freedom of expression or personal style to ease peace and keep calmness through oit the groupe, class, production line, office place etc.?

MissAnthrope's avatar

I’m all about individualism. I’m not an anti-conformist because that implies energy spent on avoiding being like other people, I simply generally just do my own thing, other people be damned. Of course, I grew up in SF, which highly promotes individualism. I feel like people should be free to be themselves.

In a school context, I am not opposed to uniforms. I briefly went to a private school that had uniforms, and I never minded. I like the way school uniforms look. I also understand school dress codes and I support them to a certain degree. It’s distracting from education when you have girls with their boobs falling out, or their thongs showing, or whatever. School in some ways is supposed to be preparing kids for life in the real world and future jobs, getting them used to being somewhere on time in the morning, following rules, listening to authority, etc. Having a reasonable dress code falls neatly into this for me. Sure, some jobs allow you to look and dress however you want, but the majority have at least some form of a dress code employees must adhere to.

Leanne1986's avatar

I am happy with both depending on the circumstances. I am happy to wear a uniform to work (and to school when I went) because it is one less thing I need to think abut at 7.30am. I like the fact that customers know who the staff are where I work just by the clothing. I’m sure this makes it easier from a customers point of view if they need help and so, in this sense, a little conformity is useful. However, I love my personal style and in my free time I like to express that.

Arisztid's avatar

I have no problem conforming at work. I mean, it would go over like a lead balloon for hospital staff to not conform to hospital dress code. I mean, if I was comfortable in a clown suit that just would not work very well. The big white gloves alone would make it hard to draw blood or even wear gloves and I could not fit an isolation mask over the big red nose and floppy shoes.

Off work, I dress however I please and always have. It so happens that how I please is pretty average. I am a jeans, tshirt, boots, leather vest sort of guy. I am an old biker still stuck in the 80’s.

If I wanted to dress, goth or something else, if that was my comfort zone, I bloody well would dress that way. I also would be ready to take the consequences. In my riding days with full riding gear (I am sans motorcycle right now), I took the consequences of looking like I biker. I knew I was going to get it and, well, I did.

I did not complain about it like I see happening now with, mainly, the emo trend.

Who should conform are those who want to and those who, if they cannot take the heat, want to stay out of the kitchen.

prescottman2008's avatar

Conformity and individuality are all about what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside. That’s a very difficult concept for children to understand. In other countries I’ve been to wearing uniforms in public schools is about money not conformity. We’re such a consumerist country it’s a difficult concept for us to embrace.

marinelife's avatar

I hate the idea of wearing uniforms in our culture at all. I am a complete individualist.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You’d think I’d hate uniforms but I don’t. I feel neutral about them. I don’t think they stifle individuality because, to me, my kids’ individuality better come from between their ears and off their tongue and in their actions. In general, I am quite supportive of individuality but within a context of helping others – the notion of doing everything just for yourself and your family is just as foreign to me as the notion of doing everything because of the collective.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Clothing is, in a sense, packaging. We choose clothes to make a statement about who we are, and are in a sense advertising. Unfortunately, what we think we are saying about ourselves with a look is not always the same as the interpretation by others.

What I find interesting is when people chooses to do something that causes themselves to visually stand out (hot pink mohawk, excessive tats, body modification, excessive piercings, shirts that have their boobs falling out onto the table, as examples) and then they become annoyed when people comment on their appearance. If you’re busty and wear low cut, too-tight clothing, guys will hit on you. If guys hitting on you is not your objective, then quit serving up the ta-tas on a silver tray.

Primobabe's avatar

Many inner-city public school systems have adopted uniforms. The uniforms are quite simple—unisex, and usually just khaki trousers with a shirt. What I find interesting is that this change evolved from the ground up. Governors and legislators didn’t mandate uniforms and impose them on school systems; instead, communities wanted school uniforms and adopted them. People were fed up with children intimidating or physically beating other children to steal a shirt, jacket, or piece of jewelry. People also realized that egalitarianism can be a good thing; no more well-dressed kids vs. scruffy kids from poor families.

stardust's avatar

I don’t have a problem with conformity – it works for many reasons. As has already been mentioned, I feel that individuality comes from within, as opposed to what’s on the outside. I like to express myself through the clothes I wear at times, but overall, I feel it’s what’s on the inside that counts

YARNLADY's avatar

I conform with my own personal style. When I was younger, I tried to act, dress, and talk like other people so I could ‘fit in’, but it never worked.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

School- uniforms or agreed upon everyday clothes.
Work- whatever dress code the business feels pays the best return.
Personal- whatever tickles my fancy or that of someone I’d like to have the attention or admiration of.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Primobabe Primobabe ”People were fed up with children intimidating or physically beating other children to steal a shirt, jacket, or piece of jewelry.” Conformity can transcend clothes, because a kid wear a uniform or people in the office place all wear business attire don’t mean some will be on the “outs”. There are always areas in which people can irk others because they choose a different path. Where clothes or the garment mantel people wear is the easy choice other areas are more sly and harder to see. What if most at work reads technical or science magazines and literature and that is the vehicle that moves break time and lunch conversation but you were a music, fashion, bass fishing or RVing type of person? To “fit in” to you subscribe to, read, and converse about science even though it is not your thing? If you did conform to the standards of classmates or coworkers would that be good if it promoted harmony and cohesiveness? When do you stop being yourself and be part of the collective if it appears to be for the collective good? Do you say “I am a bass fisherman etc. and I will be true to that, read about the perfect lures instead of the perfect lithium battery and not care who don’t like it”?

@stardust ”I like to express myself through the clothes I wear at times, but overall, I feel it’s what’s on the inside that counts” How hard and fast is your individuality? If you are that “man in the Gray flannel suit” or that “woman in the dark navy power suit” but it is what you do or say etc that ruffles feathers how much would you give to keep the peace? If they were all about fancy coffees but you were a organic fruit smoothie type person in spite of many sly and not so sly prompting of people in the micro society telling you that you should drink what they drink to “fit in” better, and appear like a team player who cares about wellbeing of the collective, do you? What if your speech was thought to be too urban, do you modify your language to suit them, and keep the peace? How much do or would you be willing to give to appease the masses?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central, there’s a difference between “appease the masses” and “leverage the opportunity.” As an example. I work in an office of suburban-dwelling, handgun-owning, SUV-driving, right wingers/teabaggers. I don’t air my left-leaning, quasi-socialist beliefs because 1) it’s a no-win situation, 2) it has no place at work, and 3) these are coworkers, not friends. My response to discussion of politics in the workplace is to declare it an off-limits topic for me. When the teabaggers leave a tea bag invitation, I make a cup of tea out of it, and thank them for thinking of me. I like working with these people; it’s a good team. The fact that I cannot fathom how Christian belief and Republican agenda can live together is for me to contemplate; there’s nothing constructive they can add to the conundrum.

Certain situations call for constrained behavioral constraints. The purpose of work and school is not to provide a venue to self-express. School is to learn; the implied contract is that I show up, do the work assigned to the best of my ability, I receive knowledge in exchange for my efforts. When I go to work, I am agreeing to rent out my knowledge/efforts to do the work I am hired to do.

Do I need to shop at Talbots, drink Starbucks, live in a certain area in order to advance at work? Of course not. That is not what they hire me to do. I am also not hired to air my personal opinions on the people who do. If I think that the person who makes decisions about promotions values people who conform to their image of corporate, then it would be in the best interest of my career to project the image that they want to see, while delivering what I am hired to do.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

”Do I need to shop at Talbots, drink Starbucks, live in a certain area in order to advance at work? Of course not. That is not what they hire me to do. I am also not hired to air my personal opinions on the people who do.” Ok getting closer, you don’t have to shop a certain place or drink a certain brand of coffee to be a success or get ahead. However, if those beer swigging, gun toting, right wing tea baggers all read a certain magazine but you read something quite different and they were always irked when they see it laying about the break room and such because of its shall we dare say the dreaded ‘L’ word, liberal leaning? They could just choose to ignore it as you might ignore their subscription of Rush Limbaugh Chronicles etc., but they choose to see is as a statement that you are not “one of them” or bucking the system. Even though you do not go out of your way to “rub in their face” you less than conservative leanings are you or would you censor what you read and how you reacted to things as to not annoy the tea baggers?

Never could figure why people believe “liberal” is a bad word

stardust's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I am neither the man in the gray flannel suit, nor the woman in the dark navy power suit. I am who I am – If I were in such a situation as you describe, I’d feel that the “others” would be expending a whole lot of energy on me and my beliefs, attitudes, morals, etc. That’s their prerogative. I’d personally choose to keep to the task at hand – do what I’d been hired to do & leave the politics aside. There’s a lot to be said for tolerance in those situations. I expect people to be tolerant of me and so I try to extend that to people I encounter, regardless of differing attitudes to life.
I think @PandoraBoxx made some great points.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central, make that martini drinking, gun-toting, golf-playing tea-baggers. I don’t leave personal reading material at work, because I’m not at work to read personal material; I’m there to do the job that I am hired to do. Period. Occasionally, I will ask people to explain why they think what they do, hoping that I can get a real explanation, but generally all I get is rhetoric, with a glazed-over look.

What’s really interesting is the level of fear that underlies what they are saying. I have reached the conclusion that these are not people of ideation, vision, or an understanding of possibilities. If the status quo is flipped, they cannot imagine how they will survive.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@PandoraBoxx Do you feel comfortable reading what you want or do at work or do you feel what you wanted to read or do read on your break you have to hide or simply not read if others would get bothered or annoyed because of what it was?

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