Negative Effects of Social Norms and an Omnipresent Dictatorship

Megan Smith
 min read

Negative effects of social norms are more prevalent than one would think.

Negative Effects of Social Norms and an Omnipresent DictatorshipCurrently, there are more and more codes to respect if you want to be in the “norm” of society.

As a whole, man is a social animal and often seeks to be accepted to avoid rejection from his peers. To do this, a person may have to forgo what he is, and try to reach impossible levels dictated by society. Despite this, it is essential to be comfortable in one’s own skin.

Whether it be the norms of dress, aesthetics and beauty, it is not easy to be confident if you adopt an attitude outside these standards.

Negative effects of social norms: Introduction

Unless one lives in a remote part of the world, the individual cannot escape his fellow man.

This starting principle implies two things: first of all, man is subject to the gaze of others and to rules and norms that he must respect.

Therefore, everyone must try to implement a strategy that best suits them to live well in society.

It is possible to submit to the norm, to allow oneself to be dictated by it. Otherwise, one may also circumvent it or even go so far as to adopt a position of rejection.

Man is a social being

When we live in society, we are constantly confronted with the gaze of others, and it is almost impossible to get rid of it.

Indeed, life is made of exchanges and meetings. We can consider these moments as not being influential; in this case, we act according to what suits us best.

However, we can also think that we evolve in society by adapting and thus, bending to the rules.

Depending on one’s view of social constraints, two paths can be followed:

  • Either we will adapt them to our own interests
  • Either we will try to reject them because they do not correspond to our expectations.

Whatever position one adopts, the norm (and through it, the gaze of others) will play its role.

Fashion is a code

Fashion is indeed a social code. It is strongly present in our Western societies and offers an opportunity to show which group one belongs to.

The dress code will allow everyone to join and blend in with the group. It can also reveal the individual’s position.

The behavior of teenagers shows how belonging to a group depends on the clothes one chooses. Currently, all segments of the population are subject to these codes.

For example, each professional environment imposes its own rules: a secretary dressed in a jogging suit will have difficulty finding a job, or a banker who wears a suit will find it easier to gain the trust of his new clients than if wearing a T-shirt.

In this kind of context, it is therefore tempting to attribute to the garment properties that go beyond its initial function: that of dressing.

Moreover, it has become a real business. Indeed, we see more image consultants or coaches who offer their services to those wishing to change their appearance and perhaps even their attitude to integrate into a professional environment.

Appearance is an essential element

Being in conformity with the codes of one’s social environment, or the one to which one would like to belong, becomes a priority so as to integrate. This is why it becomes challenging to accept oneself as one is!

We will try to do everything possible to resemble an image, thinking that it is the right one, without trying to know if it is the one that corresponds best to what we really are.

Appearance becomes essential in our lives, even if it generates frustrations. For example, you may feel compelled to wear a suit to work when you would have preferred to be in more simple attire.

The appearance can also generate suffering and anxiety about the future. Today’s society demands that one be young, beautiful and fit to achieve goals, which are difficult for the majority to attain.

Impact of the media

A set of feminine and masculine representations is imposed in magazines, movies, television, or on the Internet.

These images invade our screens persistently and repeatedly. In effect, they prescribe and standardize a reference model.

Let’s take the example of advertising in which a family with two kids is pictured in the fresh air portraying happiness, joy of living, health and serenity. This staging suggests that two children and a garden are enough to be happy.

In other advertisements, the physical image will be put forward. Indeed, one may think that being tall and slender, brunette or blonde, is a guarantee of success.

However, there is nothing to stop us from putting things into perspective. These images are taken for what they are, that is to say, models that show a particular way of doing things, which will influence us.

Therefore, the “violence” of the images is elsewhere. It is often present in our vacation photos, where we realize that the image sent back is not what we expected. Indeed, perhaps the back is more arched, or we seem to have gained weight.

It’s the same as the variant of the mirror experience, where we have an image of ourselves that rarely corresponds to a photo taken on the spot.

Often, this gap will cause suffering, which contains both the fear of being rejected and the fear of aging.

Negative effects of social norms: Conclusion

With all the images surrounding us, it can sometimes seem difficult to accept ourselves for who we are.

Today’s society seems to impose dress codes on us to blend in better.

However, it is essential to remember that despite these standards, you can always decide to create your own style. Ultimately, the most important thing is to feel good about yourself.

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More