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Digital dressing up: Reflection

Week 5 process post

After reading the article “Digital dressing up: modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere” by Tara Chittenden I felt as if I was able to relate the concept of using fashion and self expression as a tool for “emerging teen identity” (Chittenden, 2010).

When I was younger (starting around age 12 to my late teens), I always thought that I had to have a “style”. I felt the need to align who I wanted to be on the inside with how I presented myself on the outside and I would craft my wardrobe around each new stylistic phase: sporty, Pacific Northwest-y, surfy, tomboy, etc.. I would work to tailor each piece of clothing to fit the certain identity that I wanted to create for myself.

Much like Chittenden’s article, my ideaology surrounding my own female teen identity was linked with the idea that “Most teens are concerned with reconciling how they perceive themselves with how they are perceived. By trying out different expressions of identity, receiving feedback from peers, and figuring out how to modify fashion, posture and language, teens gain self-esteem in the impression they make.” And that “The relationship between fashion and social capital means that teens are constantly monitoring how they look for anything which might contradict their perceived ‘fit’ into teen culture” (Chittenden, 2010).

This occurred over and over again throughout my teenage years and even with my taste in music, I would only listen to one genre at a time. Bound to the idea that I had to find one “style” that summarized what I liked so that when people asked what I listened to, I could have an acceptable answer and could avoid the eye roll that came from saying “I like everything”. I believed that I had to have “a favourite”, because that’s what I had learned was cool. To have a favourite artist, a favourite song, a favourite genre, a certain way of dressing, a certain classification of self identity. For years, I worked endlessly to find the ultimate way of presenting myself that I could select above the rest and finally have a path that was clear and made sense to others.

However, the more I tried to limit myself and hone in on just one thing, the more I realized that I’d get bored of wearing one style of clothing, listening to one kind of music, or pursing one type of hobby. I liked everything and had an appreciation for all sorts of “styles”. I felt jumbled, like my passions and interests were always pulling me in multiple different directions, and that I had no clear “self identity”.

Fast forward to present day, where I found myself back to the same predicament as we were required to create an online “image” for ourselves for our publishing wordpress domains. How could I ever find a singular interest to present as my “online identity” on my website? It seemed that I could find little pieces of myself everywhere and that all my hobbies and interests were stretched widely across the board. I love to write, take photos, make videos, read books, adventure, explore, and dabble in more sports and hobbies that I can even keep track of, so why do I have to chose one idea and forget about the rest?

This is where the idea of “A Blog For Life Livers” came from. Before creating my blog, I found myself thinking, “what if we aren’t just one thing?” “What if your style could be no style at all, but just a selection of different random pieces and sounds that move you and bring you joy?” What if what shapes us are unique layers of different thoughts and experiences, and when combined with each other, make a mosaic of human individuality that displays more colour and depth than a singular blanketed statement of self identity ever could. I believe that this idea is the first step towards breaking away from the belief that so many of us carry in our teenage years that order to “be somebody” you had to be “something”. The idea that we need to categorize ourselves and those around us into groupings based on what “type” of person we are. Whether it is through our style, our taste in music, and now our online self.

Going forward, I decided to create my online identity for my blog in a way that invited all who simply live life to take whatever it is they need from a wide variety of content. Whether it was stories, videos, poems, or random photography from experiences and adventures, that there would be something for everyone. I wanted to create a site that threw the idea of choosing “one” way of presenting ourselves and our style out the window. Whether it’s online, in the music I listen to, or in the fabric of the clothes I wear, here’s to a sense of self that allows the room to let things be. Here’s to accepting the idea of everything, and realizing that what I once viewed as “stretched widely across the board” is actually an appreciation of all of the different wonders that life has to offer.

Works cited: Tara Chittenden. 2010. “Digital dressing up: modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere.”Journal of Youth Studies http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13676260903520902

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