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.
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!”
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.