chapter  8
Appearance and the Self: A Slightly Revised Version
Pages 22

Appearance means identification of one another, 1 but the question arises whether such identifications follow any ordered pattern. Mead's perspective insists that we look for the meaning of appearance in the responses that appearances mobilize, and we have examined more than 8000 such responses supplied by interview materials to discern whether they are consistently patterned. Many responses are, of course, gestural in nature. One's appearance commands the gaze of the audience. An eyebrow is fitted. There is a smile or a frown, an approach or withdrawal. One blushes with shame in the shamelessness of the other's appearance or with embarrassment at one's own. The nature of our data precluded the study of such gestural responses unless they were recorded by the interviewer. Consequently, apparent discourse was examined for the most parttalk about appearance aroused, in particular, by clothing. Over 200 married men and women living in a Midwestern community of 10,000 population supplied the talk. Of the many statements these people made about dress, only statements referring to those who wore the clothing in question were scrutinized. These were construed as identifications of the wearer. Here we shall be concerned for simplicity's sake with only two modes of such responses: (1) responses made about the wearer of clothes, by others who, we shall say, review his clothing; and (2) responses made about the wearer by the wearer-we shall call these re­ sponses programs. A third mode of response is relevant, but will not be considered here-the wearer's imagination of other's responses to his dress.