This week’s project revolved around the idea of counterfactual identity. Counterfactual identity does not necessarily mean the identity emphasized is fake but rather highlights the notion of creating possible alternatives or discovering a range of possibilities. In our class’s case, our assignment was basically to dress in a way we normally don’t or wouldn’t and observe people’s reactions to the change in wardrobe and the new assumptions made about either our name or our major.
Naturally, I only own clothes that I wear often, so it was a little difficult to come up with an outfit, especially since I wasn’t exactly willing to buy new clothes that I was sure I’d only wear once. Finally, however, I decided to go for a very simple but noticeable change. I tend to always wear dark blue or black jeans with a t-shirt and converse so the opposite of that would be, of course, to wear a brightly-colored dress with some flats. Though I don’t necessarily hate wearing dresses, they are usually not my first choice, only really wearing them when I need to like at formal events or school dances.
The first reaction actually came in the morning before I headed out to any of my classes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays my roommate and I head off to our classes at the same time; usually we don’t really pay much attention to what the other is doing as we get all our stuff ready, but today it was a bit different. She automatically noticed the bright green and became curious with the change in wardrobe admitting that in the few weeks living together she was already used to seeing me always wearing jeans. The other reactions came much later in the day in my CLA class. When I asked one of my classmates about my major she wasn’t sure specifically what it would be but decided on some major centered on science since she had met people dressed similarly who were majoring in microbiology or chemistry. Her friend, who joined us a few minutes later, however, thought I was majoring in art due to the bright colors.
Though the change or reactions were not so drastic, it emphasized the notion of how we get attached to certain elements like colors or clothes and then use them to fit our personalities and identities. Similarly, we then use our observations and experiences to associate those same things with other elements such as majors or attitudes we expect of people. It was rather interesting to do this project based on expression and observe the little differences throughout the day.