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I am What I Wear: The Study of the Appearance Socialization of Adolescent in Taiwan
Appearace is part of oneself, and it is also considered as a means of nonverbal communication. Therefore, the life experiences related to appearance will shape an individual’s self-concept. Many studies have proven that appearance and self correlate with each other but most of them are quantitative research. In addition, the past literatures in Taiwan put much emphasis on the link between physical appearance and self; however, clothing can be regarded as an index of socialization and it is closely connected with the self. The purpose of this study is to explore how adolescents in Taiwan develop appearance socialization. The study is based on grouding theory and is conducted by in-depth interview. 12 interviewees come from different background, including literature, history, education, science, art and social worker and so on. The results of this study showed that the appearance socialization of Taiwan’s adolescents can be divided into two periods, the explorational period and the stationary period, but there is no obvious boundary between the two periods. This study found that socialization agency is a main factor that triggers one’s appearance socialization, but the uniform regulations weaken adolescents’ motivation of appearance self-perception and management. And, female caretakers and peers play important roles in the appearance socialization of adolescents. Besides, the interviewees still have gender stereotypes, and their expectation of their appearance is affected by the gender stereortype, but the interviewees won’t judge others appearances based on gender bias. Overall, appearance and self-concept correlate with eac other but the process of appearance socialization and the development of self-concept are not synchronized. This research suggests that schools and families can undertake the role of counseling and guiding teenagers to feel how their appearance and self affect each other and assist teenagers to develop their self-concepts through the process of appearance socialization.
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