Clothing as part of our identity

Behavioral psychologist Dr. Carolyn Mair states that clothing is so close to us that it becomes part of our identity.

The clothes we wear shows how we want to be perceived, but how we are seen depends on the viewer.

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When we meet someone new, it takes under a second for us to construct our first impression based on how they look.

If we like the way someone looks, we may think of them as successful, pleasant, and intelligent without knowing anything more about them. From there, we tend to look for traits that will confirm our initial judgment of them.

  • A study showed that lab coats are associated with attention and care.
  • Another experiment showed that people who wore lab coats performed better on attention tests than those wearing painters' coats.
  • People who receive compliments when they wear certain items of clothing may feel more liked and influential when they wear that item of clothing.

Sending messages on social media that equate objects like clothes with mental health can be harmful when people are dealing with deeper mental health issues. Clothing can help us feel empowered and authentic, but it can't give us mental wellness.

In the fashion industry, people that don't fit the thin, young, white, eurocentric image are marginalized with less opportunity to communicate identity and feel empowered. This can harm people's self-esteem when measured against the norms of society.

  • Position a mirror in a well-lit space so that you can see into your eyes. Sit on a meditation cushion or chair with feet on the ground. Sit with yourself for 10 minutes.
  • Tune in to your breathing while breathing regularly.
  • Gaze into your eyes. Is your gaze harsh or soft? If hard, try to soften your gaze.
  • Observe your inner critic, then see the person under that critic. That's who you really are.
  • Notice any sensations or emotions that arise and allow them to be there without judgment or interpretation.

You may be surprised how your view of yourself can change.

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