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Volume 91, Issue 14
Friday, September 19, 1997
Fruit of the Loom
By Lisa Weaver
For years celebrities have taken the place of role models for the masses. Aspiring athletes have their favourite sports heros, would-be novelists have their cherished authors and even ordinary folk have actors and actresses they admire. With this idea in mind, it is easy to see how celebrities influence fashion choices.
The style of one's dress often acts as a uniform, identifying a person as a member of a specific group. Although it seems a huge generalization, it is often possible to identify attributes/characteristics about a person by the way they dress. A person's shoes, for example, often say a lot about their values or interests. Gym shoes denote an active lifestyle, while shiny leather loafers might reflect a rich, impeccable lawyer-type.
Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery and with that consideration, the assimilation of a fashion style from a celebrity can be seen as a form of flattery. For example, sports fans might wear jerseys that are exact replicas of those worn by their favorite heros to show they support and admire them.
Another reason to assimilate the fashion of celebrity-types is to show support of their values or beliefs. For example, most music genres have a corresponding fashion code which a lot of the fans adhere to showing they support the ideas of that group or artist.
A person might appropriate the style of someone who shares their own values to demonstrate those beliefs in a physical form. For example, many types of accessories, like hats and jewellery, convey a certain type of value system to the rest of society. Someone who might not be able to speak their mind verbally about the things they believe in can convey the same message by choosing the same fashions as a celebrity they admire. A person who is exploring their sexuality might admire Ellen Degeneres for example, and appropriate her clothing or hair-style to feel more comfortable with themselves and display their beliefs to the world.
Another way celebrities influence the masses is through our never-ending search for acceptance. When we see someone on television or in the movies who is socially accepted and 'well to do', we want to be that person. By appropriating the language and fashion-sense of these characters, we feel at least a bit closer to reaching that ideal. A perfect example is the Friends hair syndrome, where Ross and Rachel became the ideal for many men and women so influential that their hairstyles became symbolic for any person who wanted to convey a sense of social popularity.
Celebrities are obviously aware of their influence on the fashion of the masses, because clothing merchandise is produced in conjunction with television shows, movies and sports teams. At first glance, there seems to be nothing wrong with wanting to identify with a favourite celebrity. But in doing so, only stereotypes and false assumptions are generated. It is often those people who go out on their own and create their own sense of fashion who really represent their true personalities to the world.
In such a mass-produced, fake-plastic society, who wants to look like everyone else? A little bit of creativity and imagination would make this planet a whole lot more interesting instead of a world plasticized with Pamela Lee or Brad Pit look-alikes.
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