Recently, we’ve seen quite a lot of noteworthy news on how we look, how we present ourselves, and what is becoming acceptable or not. From dress-codes and uniforms to blurred gender lines and culturally appropriate clothing, many of us are seeing conversations turn on their heads, discussing the repercussions and potential ripple-effects of self-expression, respect, individuality, and equity.
Many of us went to school wearing uniforms, with some having strong opinions and others not caring in the least. Incredibly valid arguments can be made either way, from protecting forms of self-expression to leveling of the playing field, taking away distractions, and directing more attention to the coursework.
No matter how we felt about wearing uniforms in school, we can better understand our arguments, for this and any other presentation-related discussion, in terms of what our goals are. Are we looking to break down barriers that potentially cause harm to others? Are we looking to protect individuality? What about preserving culture?
There are many facets of how we present ourselves that are changing simultaneously, so how do we keep up? Do we just stick with what we know and ignore the rest or should we do our best to understand why people are changing how we see and discuss how others present themselves? It may seem strange, unimportant, or even scary, but ignorance is not always bliss, and in some cases, it can even be harmful.
So, how can we begin to understand what’s changing in the realm of self-presentation? Well, there’s a lot, so here’s just a few quick and rough tips.
Understand ourselves. When we’re trying to better understand these topics, we can first look to why and how we show the world who we are. Why exactly do we wear what we wear? Has it been a purposeful decision or were there some things we accepted as ‘normal?’ Is there anything we would do differently if we could?
Take a look outside of ourselves. What is it that we don’t quite understand? Have there been terms that seem silly or confusing? When we pinpoint what it is that seems uncomfortable, we can then work to understand it.
Doing our research. Once again, this is where we will find the complexity of these topics and discussions. We will find that there are a multitude of opinions, experiences, and thoughts for what is best. While that can seem overwhelming and confusing, it is important that we do our best to understand and accept that this is a constantly evolving topic, including many different voices.
Taking a step back. In many of these discussions, it is important for us to realise that not everything is about us and not everything completely includes us- and that is okay.
Being patient. We are dealing with a complex topic that includes nearly every single person, but in very different ways. Understanding that there is not one solution to every discussion or issue is important. Patience is key here.
Asking questions. There will be a lot that we don’t understand, for each of us. It is important for us to not ignore what we don’t understand, but to get involved instead. Asking questions and respecting answers that are provided is a great place to start.
It is important that in these discussions, we do our best to see past what is at the forefront and reach deeper into our most basic goals. For the most part, we are all doing what we think is best for our future. We can take a step back and recognise that these issues are far more complex, messy, and longer-term than we know. We cannot have the perfect answers, we can only do our best with what we know and what we experience right now. We can only listen to others, growing our understanding of the world around us, helping us to build more comprehensive and inclusive approaches.
We can all do with a little more listening and a bit more sharing. So, share your thoughts and listen to others in the comments below!