Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On Clothing

I recently came across http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/, a website that documents some of the more outlandishly dressed people spotted at Walmarts across the country. This isn't so much a documentary about Walmart, but about the many people we encounter who seem to have abandoned even the most minimum standards of taste, decency and decor.

In light of the current economic and social ills that we face, I am not so much troubled by the actual clothing, but I am very curious about what it may say about the culture and values of these individuals in particular and the nation at large.

I am not certain what the answer is, but I am contemplating that it may reveal a growing indifference of many individual to members of their community. It may reveal an increasing disconnect from the social and community spheres. It possibly reveals a sense of self esteem that is increasingly divorced from reality (thank you new age school teachers). In the past most obese men and women dressed conservatively to downplay the less than ideal aspects of their physique. But, now many obese individuals wear highly revealing clothing that proudly displays their undulating waves of belly fat and thongs to highlight their gargantuan posteriors. And lastly, it may reveal a growing class of people who have lost their sense of self reflection and the impulse of self improvement that was (relative to other cultures) very strong in the United States. Millions either are so lethargic and torpid that they do not see or care about the connection between behaviors and their growing obesity. This same phenomena drives the explosive growth of pathological social and economic phenomena like single-motherhood and the reckless financial behavior of the Bushbama Administration.


  1. I would argue most of the truly nasty looking people I see on the bus every day don't look that way because of inflated self esteem from "new-age" teachers. Most of these people I would guess, based on their poor grasp of their native English language are drop outs, and have never been inspired by an educator. I do agree that their is a growing indifference of many individuals to members of their community, or put another way, they lack an approrpiate sense of shame. It is not neccessarily shameful to be a single mother or carry a few extra pounds, but to be a lousy parent and flaunting your self inflicted diabetes is shameful. Shame is a powerful motivator. I would love to see any politician say that one of the big reasons we have a health care problem is that people are fatter and thus unhealthier than ever.

  2. You are probably correct, I may have overstated the role that "inflated self esteem" and "new age teachers" play in the decline of good behavior. But, keep in mind that sometimes an idea originates among the educated, wealthy strata of society and filters down to the rest in a less conscience form. For example, wealthy elites postulated the feminist and sexual revolutions, which slowly spread through society. Even though most individual probably doesn't know who Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan are, their behaviors and values were changed by these activists.

    In regards to shame, you are really on the ball. I too would love to here a politican call the public out, but it's much easier for the right to blame "big government" and the left to blame "evil corporations."

    And you are definitely correct about shame as a powerful and cost effective motivator.