Through the Lens of a Stranger



Or how we tell you to see yourself

Topic: Self

Source: Reading “Communication Mosaics” and talking about how our personal identities are influences by the “personal” and “general” other.

Relation: Robbins defines social identities as, “views that people have of their own and others positions in society” (Pg. 136). Our position in society is created through our identity toolbox, and what makes up this toolbox is through the construction of our “self.”

Description: Sitting in class listening to a lecture from my professor Tasha Souza, about the development of identity. I can’t help but think of all the people who have affected my identity. My mother always told me I could be anything I want, which gave me determination to get a college degree. I was also told growing up that I am a beautiful strong person, which gave me the courage to have standards in my relationships.  I was told by mass media that I needed to be white, thin, with light colored eyes. Also I need to have big breast, and a big butt. These are all things that have constructed my view of myself.  Which in turn reflects outwardly and constructs the world’s view of me.


Commentary/Analysis: First let me define what the personal and general other re. The personal other are the people who have a person role in your life that influence your perceptions on yourself. These can be your parents, siblings, friends etc. The general other is outside sources that influence the perceptions of self. These can be things such as mass media: movies, magazines, celebrities etc. (All of these terms are defined in Communication Mosaics which will be cited in my references). From young ages our self-perceptions are constructed from movies, friends and families. Whether it was your mother calling you a princess (and dressing you like one) or Disney movies telling you how your gender should act. All of these affect the way you act, dress, communicate, and your self-perceptions. A study was done in 2007 that tested the actions, attire, and self-perceptions of five year old girls, when they were told everyday by their parents that they were pretty princesses. After three months of this, the children we dressing themselves in “princess-dresses”, make-up and anything they perceived to be “princess-ish.” When asked who they were, they would address themselves as “princess Amanda” etc. when asked what they were, they responded with answers like “a princess” or “the most beautiful princess in the world.” Lastly, The attitudes of these children changed from compliant to conflict oriented. When they were told no, they would demand to be told yes, saying things such as “I am the princess so I make the rules.” This is just an experiment, which shows how we develop images of ourselves based on what other people say, and what we see. These children would never know how to dress like a princess if they were not exposed to media images such as Disney.

 Another way to see our how our self-perceptions are affected by both the personal and general other is our body image. It is almost impossible to say that media hasn’t affect the way you see your body. When white skinny, fake-breasted women are praised as beautiful, any girl who is an average American is tossed aside as unattractive. This makes women want to look like the women in mass media because this is seen as beautiful. This causes eating disorders, health issues, and in some cases suicide. These are just some examples of how the personal and general other affect our self-perceptions. While we do have opinions of ourselves that are formed from our perceptions of the world, most of our self-perceptions have come from years of personal and general other influences. 







Works Cited (not class text)
Wood, Julia. Communication Mosaics: An Introduction to the Field of Communication.[S.l.]: Cengage, 2010. Print.

Picture Citations:
  • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/vanm0049/psy1001section08spring2012/2012/04/correlation-between-self-esteem-and-personality.html
  • http://fallforward.wordpress.com/tag/self-esteem/
  • http://www.mybargainbuddy.com/3yr-self-magazine-subscription
  • http://www.simplypsychology.org/self-concept.html
  • http://www.daringyoungmom.com/2012/03/23/like-a-ninja/
  • http://fresnobeehive.com/2009/02/cutest_damn_thi_2.html
  • http://www.betterworldbooks.com/communication-mosaics-id-0495794155.aspx


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