Constantly surrounded by expectations to look and behave in certain ways, many people struggle with the ability to just be themselves. Some people tend to be more comfortable being more authentic than others. While many others don’t know who they are or how to “be.”
My research explores the ways in which clothing, environment, and economic standing (among other variables) can impact one’s ability to “be real” in this day and age.
Clothing is particularly interesting to explore because it can impact body language and confidence in addition to social pressures to adhere to specific norms. For example, we examine the ways in which uniforms and different attire impact body language, posture, and behavior.
In one study, participants wore dark large hoodies, with baggy pants and boots into the same retail store, and then those same participants wore business suits and entered the same stores. They charted the ways in which they were received by staff during their encounters and how their attire made them feel or behave differently.
It is no surprise that the baggy clothes resulted in more suspicion and a less welcoming experience, while the suits resulted in better service and a 100% greeting rate. My research focuses on the ways in which those students felt and perhaps behaved differently when dressed contrarily.
Ultimately, my goal is to better understand the ways in which certain people are better at being comfortable in their own skin, despite what they are wearing or what they look like.