Childhood is the time when children learn the rules necessary to function in society. The rules of society include appropriate appearance. Do children wear make-up? Yes, of course they do. How many people remember that one girl or boy in grade school who wore make-up? These individuals really stood out against the school backdrop of fresh-faces young scholars preparing for their future. They were considered 'weird' or 'creepy' or 'dorky'. They were also deviant because their behavior was different from the social norm (Kendal, 2013, p.180). But what if these people were popular and well-respected? These people might have then been considered the norm and people would have tried to emulate them in order to conform. Everyone within a society is conditioned to act a certain way under certain premises. Adults are "programmed" to see children a certain way and differing from this standard is considered deviant. Children are expected to look a certain way and are corrected by society as a whole if they deviate.
The folkway violated was the appropriate appearance of children. A brief survey was handed out by a so-called twelve-year-old in a busy downtown mall. This mall was patronized by many foreign visitors as well as regular shoppers. There was only one question on the survey, "How do you like my appearance?" The experiment used an eighteen-year-old college student. This particular student was chosen because she looked like a twelve-year-old. Since the participant was eighteen, no parental permission was needed. She was asked to distribute a simple survey while dressed like a twelve-year-old and wearing heavy adult-looking makeup. As the observer, I watched from a few feet away, taking notes about the behavior, facial expressions, and body language of passer-bys. She walked up to numerous people, all colors and races. Some were foreigners who waved her away, maybe not understanding her, others simply looked away. Of those who answered, most were very cooperative and consented to follow-up questions like "Was her appearance appropriate, and why or why not?" Some people took the time to stop and talk to us and from those people a summary was constructed. In answer to the survey, there were fourteen replies:
• 2 teenage girls - she looked too slutty
• 1 teenage boy - he thought she was 'hot'
• 5 adult women - 2 thought it was not important, 3 thought it was not appropriate for a child
• 5 senior citizens - 2 men, 4 women - women stated why not, they would if they could, surprisingly the men thought the same.
This generational answer surprised me. The older subjects seem to have had a more spiritual grasp of reality and trusted in the younger generation, maybe they were saying that society was always watching.
One thing was definite, society was watching her, everybody was watching her, whether she saw them or not. From my vantage point, I noticed numerous heads turning and shaking. Boys and girls, men and women...