Sample Essay

Words 1,230

In a society, different types of clothing are often used to delineate the different spheres of an individual’s life such as work, play, the public sphere and the private sphere (Breward, 1999). The given dress code for any social situation may be defined explicitly or may be implicit in the way people dress. In many instances the wearing of a wrong sort of dress in a wrong setting may result in a social penalty (Breward, 1999). In this essay, I will explore my violation of a minor social norm regarding the type of dress to be worn in a particular situation.

The situation I chose to enact my intended violation of a norm was the gymnasium. Most people at the gymnasium wear sweatshirts and shorts. A few who may be more modest than others chose to wear tracksuits. I chose to conduct my experiment in the afternoon when the gymnasium, while not filled to its full capacity, still has a number of people in it. The people at the gym were mostly housewives and young sporty and fitness oriented women and men returning from their jobs and schools. The were a total of around twenty people in the gym, engaged in various activities like riding a stationary bike, running on a treadmill, lifting weights etc.

For the purpose of my experiment, I put on a formal, dark suit, more suited to a wedding or a funeral. Immediately upon entering the gym I encountered quite a few raised eyebrows. As I went in and took my usual place at a corner weight bench, I heard the sound of a few giggles and snickers arising from the people around me. Ignoring them for the present, I went forward with my exercises, doing a bit of a warm up exercise and then lying down on the weight bench for the bench press. I finished my usual number of sets in around fifteen minutes. By that time a few newcomers had entered the gym, one of whom greeted me with a repressed smile. As I took leave some of the people who I passed by smiled at me, some openly and others trying to hide it, but none made any comment.

I felt a lot of internal shame, embarrassment and mortification while conducting this experiment; this was perhaps because I expected people to have more explicit reactions to my violation of the norm than the reactions they really gave. All the time during the experiment I waited with bated breath for someone to come up with a hilarious and witty remark on my dress, but no one did.

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