‘Our identity is influenced by how others view us. ’ Our individual identity is determined by what others think of us but only in part. Our identity is also comprised of inner qualities and outer representations of self. It consists of innumerable defining characteristics that make up the whole of who we are in any given moment. These fragments of ourselves include our sexuality, gender, and sense of belonging to a particular culture, nation, religion, family, or some other group.
Our identity includes our looks, personality, beliefs and fears. Our identities are constantly growing, changing, and adapting to our everyday lives. This emphasizes the overriding link that one’s sense of belonging influences, or often dictates, individual identity. Each individual in society assigns themselves a particular role, whether it be as a mother, brother, retiree, performer, sportsman or as a part of their occupation, a doctor or lawyer. One’s entire sense of self is consumed by pursuit of fulfilling such a role in society.
Often these roles influence how others view us. How heavily do they? What does it depend on? Can it change or alter? What might you do to affect it? Which identity is influenced: public or private? Does it come from within that makes us who we are, or is it the environment and the people in it that ultimately mould our identity? These are the questions that can arise when questioning the effect of others on our identity. Stereotyping is one of the biggest conflicts that misrepresent who we really are.
We are misunderstood sometimes as people who do not know who we really are, view us as something that we are not because of what they have heard because of attitudes toward certain roles in society, therefore affecting our identity. In the film Gattaca, the culture within the Gattaca Corporation shows clearly the human tendency to stereotype. Assessors discriminate against new applicants with undesirable genetics rather than testing each person individually to determine their capabilities. Genetics gives them a preconceived opinion of how people will perform and people are rejected or accepted accordingly.
A specific example of stereotyping in the film is when the actual murderer of the mission director is excluded as a suspect because of his genetics. This would suggest that the idea of selection of people with ideal genetics and reliance on this for behaviour of people may be major a cause of stereotyping, not just a result of it. The implications that this has for managers of organisations are that they need to be aware of their stereotypes and ensure that this does not affect their decisions or cause them to discriminate unnecessarily when dealing with people.
The relationships we have with others are the biggest factors that make up our identity and change who we are and how others view us. Those that surround us can affect our identity. We play different roles in the relationships we have, whether it would be with our family, our neighbours or with our friends. Relationships are grown upon similar interests and common thoughts and within each relationship, an identity grows similar to those with whom we spend our time and this is what gives us a sense of belonging.
In Unpolished Gem, the strong bond between Alice and her grandmother influences Alice’s identity. She grows up with the values demonstrated by her grandmother. Identity can both be influenced by, and influence, the work we do, our education, financial and class status, the car we drive, the home we live in and the clothes we wear. Identity is also determined by perspective. Our self-image can be entirely different to the way we are seen by a colleague, partner, friend, child or parent who all have their own lens of perception through which they view us.
Half of our identities today are completely based on what we see in the media. Although our names, cultures and religions are determined otherwise, mainstream media all significantly determines our dress, behaviour, hobbies and interests. What we see in magazines and on television dictate the way we run our lives. They tell us that we need a new car, a new dress or new toys because they are what is ‘”in”, what everyone is getting. The media is the cause of our heavily consumerist society, and is always telling us “what’s hot and what’s not”.
We always want what is trendy and what is new, because the media tells us that we want it. This both destroys individualism, and influences our identity. The way society views social classes is also affected by the media. Previous to the Second World War, society was predominately paternal. Women were largely seen as inferior, and were chiefly bound to a domestic role. However, when the war ended, a large feminist revolution took place. The song “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy perpetuated the idea that women were just as capable as men, and should no longer be treated as second-class citizens.
Feminist movements on the radio and television allowed people to see these new ideas, and change the way they viewed women. A new identity for women was created, that women were no longer bound to the home, but could have jobs and work just as men would. Thus, the media created a new identity. Identity is a big aspect of who we are as people. It is the personality that creates us as individuals. We are brought up to learn who we are and are recognised by our differences. Our identity is made up of many sources.
Friends, family, peers and our own characteristics are factors of our character that make up a sense of our identity. Stereotyping is one of the biggest conflicts that misrepresent who we really are. We are misunderstood sometimes as people who don’t know who we really are, view us as something that we are not because of what they have heard. Identity is combination of how we see ourselves, what we make of ourselves and importantly, how others view us, whether rightly or wrongly. Statement of Explanation I chose to write in an expository style, employing conventions of format and style of a traditional essay.
This allows me to express my ideas in a logical order while adopting a sophisticated tone. My piece is to be read by VCE students familiar with the subject matter and texts, Unpolished Gem and Gattaca. As they have familiarity with the concepts I discuss, I intend for readers to depart with a greater understanding and appreciation of the ideas in my written piece. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that there are different influences on a person’s identity. In this essay, I explored the idea that ‘Our identity is influenced by how others view us’.