Social Norm Violation, Ash Chambers

One of the interesting norms of our society is how people should dress in given situations. Factors such as modesty, weather, flamboyancy, gender, and many others, all contribute towards what is ‘appropriate’ attire. So, for my social norm violation, I decided to disobey the rules of dress.

When me and my friends went out for dinner, I donned a Greek toga instead of ‘normal clothes’. I wore an over the shoulder greek toga with gladiator sandals. I also had a leaf crown, though I did not wear it the entire time (it was uncomfortable). This outfit was slightly immodest, too breezy for how cold it was, and incredibly flamboyant/out of place in the restaurant. In other words, it was a clear violation of the norms of dress.

A lot of people stared. Okay, everyone stared. Everyone who saw me shot me a questioning glance. This sometimes was followed by a chuckle, sometimes a high-five or congratulations on my clothing, or a look of disgust. Some people seemed so perplexed that they just couldn’t stop staring, with no visible reaction at all. Most of all, I was surprised by the amount of complements I got. Many people said they liked my outfit. It was not exactly the ‘violation’ I expected–I expected it to be a little more controversial.

Despite the majority of positive feedback I received, I still felt a bit uncomfortable. I have never been a big fan of many eyes on me at once. So I felt a bit hot and out of sorts throughout the evening. Every so often I would let out a nervous laugh when given a compliment. However, I eventually enjoyed it. I may not be an attention seeker, but I definitely enjoy going against the norm. It was hard to think up what to do for this project because I so often go out of my way to be ‘different’ (in a good way, I hope). I am a low social monitor, so I probably violate norms quite often. But this was such a big, intentional, and odd display, that it helped me feel that discomfort I used to feel when I was younger. When violating norms meant more to me. It got me thinking that we all have our comfort zones, and unless we push past them, violating a norm won’t bother you much. But this did push past my comfort zone, and I could not help but feel a little embarrassed.

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  1. #1 by peacepirate on June 7, 2012 - 10:05 PM

    I think this is a really interesting norm violation, because it also demonstrates differences in norms in different situations and time periods. In Ancient Rome, or even at a ‘Toga Party’, this dress would not have been out of place. Only because you were in a situation where no one else was participating did it seem awkward. This is fascinating to me, because it makes me wonder if the things we are doing now and the clothes we are wearing will be social norm violations when we are grandparents or older.

  2. #2 by christinesellers on June 7, 2012 - 11:08 PM

    I really enjoyed reading your post. Way to be brave… I would have never been able to pull that off without laughing the whole time! Fashion is such an interesting social norm to address because it changes constantly and like was said earlier, in different situations your attire would have been completely acceptable. Way to be awesome.
    Christine Sellers

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