Miss. Independent?

At the beginning of the school year, I began working at a clothing store in downtown Ann Arbor. As the weather has decreased, the amount of black coats, black leggings, and black boots purchased by girls on campus has exponentially increased. The store buyer constantly has to order more of these sought after items in order to keep up with the high demand. I personally own a black winter coat, black boots, and a countless number of black leggings. Is this to say I am not an individual? Am I conforming to what I think society expects of me? Or do I sport these fashions because I genuinely enjoy wearing them and think they are the best on the market? Nicole Santa, a 17 year old, explains how she sees conformity in teenagers when it comes to fashion.

The jacket that everyone wears or the jacket that is the most practical?

The jacket that everyone wears or the jacket that is the most practical?

I cannot help but to think abut this issue of conformity while observing the identically dressed girls that come in and out of the store everyday. I always wonder what their thoughts are about this topic. Are they purchasing and wearing the same items because they genuinely like them or because they feel as if they need to conform to society?

If John Mill were asked this question, I believe he would say that girls dress this way and conform in the way that they do because there is no point in being different and standing out. He believes that no on will notice their efforts to stand out, so they might as well conform. Although he does not specifically write about black long jackets and leggings in, On Liberty , he does talk about how individuals who stand out are hardly recognized. If I could go back in time and have dinner with him, I can hear him saying, “If everyone else is doing it, you should too!”

Is John Mill an individualist because his photo is in black and white?

Is John Mill an individualist because his photo is in black and white?

Although Mill possesses these views, he does say, that it is good and beneficial to question them. He encourages the reader to question why they’re conforming and what their intentions are in doing so. On the contrary, he also gives encouragement to the person who does stand out and “dares” to be different.

I think that Mill is saying that it is okay to conform to society and he in a way supports it; if though, you have good reason to conform. Do I think the girls who come into the store have done research about the clothing they are purchasing and now it is the most practical item on the market? No. So, in that sense I do not think Mill would support their behavior in conforming. But he would support the girl who has done her research and is aware of the fact her purchases are the best on the market.

If Mill were alive and needed a winter coat and boots, I am sure he would do his research and pick the most practical option. If that meant conforming to society, then he would be in full support of it.

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3 thoughts on “Miss. Independent?

  1. If to be warm in a black coats, leggings, and boots is to be a conformist , then society as a whole has failed to be smart . While some individuals do simply follow the trend, I think it is rather foolish to negatively label those who have made a practical decision to pick the best coat, shoes and clothing for the weather. My understanding of Mill, would suggest that if your boss did not supply these things, that are clearly necessary for someone to live given the condition, then he would be causing harm to others. Clearly people support or are in need of this “trend” because it is beneficial to their lives. Now while everyone does not have to buy the same exact coats and boots, is it crime to want what is consider to be the best ? Yes, everyone on campus might have a black North Face, making them a conformist, but North Face is considered to be one of the best brands for cold weather. Why wouldn’t anyone want to buy it? Better why would anyone want to be a so called individualist, that wears flip flops and a tee shirt during winter in Michigan .

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  2. I really enjoyed this post. I too wear the classic winter jacket, boots, and black leggings. Actually recently I bought a new winter jacket because not only is it really warm, but it is really common on this campus. After I purchased it I found out the company is really cruel to animals in order to make the jackets. If I had done research about what I was buying instead of conforming to whatever one else has I would have found this out and not supported the company.

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  3. I think your application of Mill’s ideas regarding independence and conformity to a real life example is spot on. All day long I see girls walking around campus in identical clothing and footwear. Like you said, I can’t imagine they did in-depth research to find out what the best and warmest clothing is for the winter… they just bought what everyone else already had. If someone wanted to stand out, they have every right to go ahead and do so. Going against the social norm may not be welcomed or might be questioned in some cases, but when it comes to clothing, it really does not matter. Nice post.

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