Appearance and gender identity/role
Appearance is a topic of universal interest.
However, despite abundant popular speculation about its
meaning and function, little in the way of systematic analysis
has been undertaken.
The present series of studies was designed to evaluate
schematic aspects of appearance as they. relate to gender
identity/role. They were carried out within the framework
of the symbolic interactionist model.
The purpose of the first study, with 32 boys and
girls aged five to eight years, was to determine if differential
schemata toward appearance occurred in young children.
The subjects were interviewed individually using a
preselected list of questions and they drew male and female
figures. Findings indicated that both boys and girls held
more comprehens~ve schemata in relation to th~ same-sex
models. They expressed different expectations for patterns
of dress: they used dress differently for fantasy purposes:
they liked or disliked garments for different reasons.
The second study used males and females aged 15 to
17 ye~rs in order to determine if differential schemata
toward appearance also occurred in adolescence. Seventyfive
students completed thequestionnaire. Findings showed
that the girls had a higher fashion interest and a greater
concern with their shape and aesthetic values.The boys considered their personality or parents to be
greater impediments to their ideal images.
The third study was composed of two parts. In the
first part, 92 young female adults aged 18 to 21 years completed
a questionnaire and had their photographs taken. In
the second part, 24 young female adults in the same age
range rated slides drawn from th~ previous group. The aim
of this work was I.> to determine if individuals who varied
on gender identity/role differed on aspects of appearance
and 2.> to determine if some of those aspects were communicated
to others. The results indicated that there were a
number of differences between gender identity/role groups
and that the communication of aspects of appearance was limited.
Overall findings were discussed with relation to
experimental and theoretical considerations and suggestions
made for future research.