Stone, G.P. 1962/1995. “Appearance and the Self.”

Stone, Gregory P.  1995. “Appearance and the Self.” Pp. 19-39 Pp. in Dress and Identity, edited by Mary Ellen Roach-Higgins, Joanne B. Eicher, and Kim K.P. Johnson. New York: Fairchild Publications.

Originally printed as: Stone, Gregory P.  1962. “Appearance and the Self.” Pp. 86-116 in Human Behavior and the Social Processes: An Interactionist Approach, edited by A.M. Rose. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Symbolic interactionism has thus far (in the 1960s) promoted (verbal) communication as a primary means of establishing/communicating the self (and creating discourse).  However, little work at that time noted appearance as a means of communicating the self or establishing discourse.

According to Mead (CITE 1934?): meaning is established only when the “sender” and “receiver” agree on a unified, intended understanding – Stone challenges this as imperfect – agreement is a loose idea and approximation.

Appearance is NOT discourse, but a means of enabling, sustaining, facilitating, and bounding the creation of discourse – a dialectic built on correspondence; however, simply because one “appears” does not mean that he influences discourse.

Program: “responses made about the wearer by the wearer” (22); review: “responses made about the wearer of clothes by others” (22). When program and review coincide, self of the wearer is validated/established; disparity may result in challenge or sanction.

Self is “situated”- “cast in the shape of a social object by the acknowledgement of his participation or membership in social relations. One’s identity is established when others place him as a social object by assigning him the same words of identity that he appropriates for himself or announces” (23). In such, we communicate and evaluate values, emotions, attitudes, predicted behavior of wearer,

Introduces clothing as a means of socialization – anticipatory (to guide adoption of roles one can be expected to adopt later in life – jobs, family, etc.) and fantastic – (roles that will likely never be taken on in real life) – as means of “play” – Meadian concepts of I vs. me development. Play, here, requires costuming. “Acting out of role implies that one appear out of role. Play demands that the players leave themselves behind, so to speak. The players may do this symbolically by doffing their ordinary dress and donning extraordinary dress so that they play may proceed. Play the role of the other requires that the player dress out of the role or roles that are acknowledged to be his own.  Costume, therefore, is a kind of magical instrument.  It includes all apparent misrepresentations of the wearer” (31-32) –  (kx^ how do we translate this costuming socialization of the self and others to adult “play”?) — Stone argues that this “play” is usually done in private – although it is no less significant than when in the public realm.


Mead, G.H. 1934. Mind, Self, and Society, edited by Charles W. Morris. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


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