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Peer Pressure And Teenage Fashion


You got kids? Mine are all grown up and gone away now but if I cast my mind back oh ten years or so I can remember not only the pressure I was under to comply with their hunger for clothes and accessories that would enable them to keep up with their peer group but also the pressure that I was under to keep up financially.

So where does this come from this desire for the latest cool fashion? Is it immaturity? A lack of independence? Or both.

I remember way back when I was growing up in Brighton (south coast of England) suddenly everyone was wearing Levis to school. Man they were cool, too cool for school! Us lesser types could only stand and stare as these guys promenaded around the place, straight out of Grease. I immediately started bugging my mother for a pair of Levis but unfortunately not only could we not afford Levis we couldn’t afford jeans! What was I going to do? I applied the pressure just as today’s teenagers do. I remember begging, pleading, whining and perpetually trying to make my case. I was being treated like a nerd at school and nothing could save me. All the while my mum, God bless her, had been saving tokens from Heinz beans to get money off jeans and get me a pair (beans mean jeans?). One Saturday in 1969 she duly presented me with my very own pair of jeans, not Levis, but jeans nonetheless!

The following Monday off I went to school, proudly strutting my stuff. Things didn’t go bad, but it could have been better. Although I was recognised as wearing denim (up 3 cred points) it was also noticed that they weren’t Levis so I only made it into a kind of sub cool group in the pecking order. Being vain and impressionable though I left behind some of my existing friends and starting hanging out with some of my new cooler ones. Despite all of my mum’s efforts to support me we hadn’t quite made it. But I learned an important lesson – don’t try to be what you’re not. The higher I climbed up this ‘social ladder’ the more shallow the people were, bordering on idiots, and the more I regretted turning away from my old friends. I also felt for my mum who sacrificed herself for my vanity. Never again did I consider ‘fashion’ until …

1998, three teenage kids 13, 15 and 18. Guess what?

Anyway, enough reminiscing – to the point: the dictionary definition of peer pressure is this:-

Peer pressure is a term describing the pressure exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change their attitude, behavior and/or morals, to conform to, for example, the group’s actions, fashion sense, taste in music and television, or outlook on life. Social groups affected include membership groups, when the individual is “formally” a member (for example, a political party or trade union), and social cliques. A person affected by peer pressure may, or may not want to, belong to these groups. They may also recognize dissociative groups with which they would not wish to associate, and thus they behave adversely concerning that group’s behaviors.

But does it exist today in terms of clothing? My family has been travelling to the USA for quite some time now and every mall we visit houses stores that are basically designer labels, there don’t seem to be many generic clothes shops left. And all the goods seem to be affordable and all the stores packed with kids. Typically the UK has followed the trend and is slowly but surely converting to malls as opposed to high streets and, the stores follow suit, they are all ‘names’. I can see the peer pressure trend swinging away from the visual perception of how people look towards dissociative groups, which I think is a fancy term for gangs.

From my experiences as a teenager and a parent I learned these things:

o To yourself be true

o Don’t be influenced, perfect a sense of individuality

o The more individual you seem the more others will want to be like you

o Indulge your children but don’t spoil them, encourage their sense of self

Source by Ian Courtneidge


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