WHY IS THE TEENAGE LOOK A MARKER OF SOCIAL DISTINCTION?

Over time, many trends have blown and regulated civilizations in the way they dress and look in the eyes of others. Fashion phenomena have followed one another. But in all these different cycles, one concept remains: that of defining social belonging.

THE INDICATION OF ORIGINS

In the search for his identity, a teenager wears the outfits that seem to suit him, at first without really knowing why or how. They try on clothing models and various fashion accessories to reinforce this search for self. He will then discover an increasingly independent personality, and unconsciously turn to adopting a look that will systematically place him within a social category. Seen from another angle, this teenager is induced by his appearance, which he accepts and remains proud of his origins, as illustrated by the case of a young person from a well-to-do family who dresses appropriately. Conversely, this same appearance may indicate that he wants to free himself from his original belonging, by adopting a gothic look, for example.

MAKING A MARK

The more a teenager asserts his or her personality, the more he or she will strengthen the image he or she conveys to show that he or she belongs in society. Submissive or rebellious, the style they display will only reinforce this information. However, they will mostly use the models they like to let others know that they belong to a specific social category and that they should be treated accordingly. For example, a teenager who dresses in T-shirts, jogging suits and sneakers will be labelled as a sportsman or sportswoman, and will often be seen by other young people with the same passion. However, wearing long hair could also indicate an appreciation of punk culture.

THE CHOICE OF BELONGING

By highlighting all these different clues, a teenager creates an image in relation to his or her environment, and thus places a marker that society will naturally interpret. He chooses to show a signature of his own that identifies him in relation to others, without however taking him out of the category to which people will think he has decided to belong. The way a teenager dresses, the art of doing his or her hair, the way he or she speaks, in short the visual means by which a teenager applies fashion as he or she pleases, are all information that society will analyze and interpret accordingly, in order to give him or her his or her place. For all these reasons, looks are clearly a marker of social distinction.