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July 27, 2010 / ashithymia


The concept of belonging is a dynamic process in which humans inherently seek assurance and acceptance through others, essentially, but not exclusively, to protect themselves from ostracism and rejection.  It is a matter of contention far more intricate than merely that of identifying and including oneself in the ‘popular’ crowd or using groups to obtain status.

Groups and one’s belonging to them has been a paramount component of human nature since the beginning.  Humans formed allegiances (and continue to do so) for reasons such as patriotism and war effort.  Since, the need to belong to groups has evolved and become part of one’s ability to identify oneself.  They are a means of necessity, allowing expression of one’s beliefs, thoughts, ideas, spiritual connections and various other areas – producing a myriad of organisations which may reveal themselves exuberantly or more conservatively.

However, belonging to certain groups are not always one’s own choice.  Some groups may become a part of one’s identity, despite initial thoughts otherwise, while other groups are begrudgingly a part of oneself and may be difficult and/or impossible to leave.  Either way, these groups often have ways of representing themselves to outsiders and also a means of distinguishing one another.


The most important group which I feel that I belong to is my immediate family.  While we do not share an outward symbol such as a style of dress or certain type of jewellery piece, we do share common physical traits.  Other things such as our mannerisms, attitudes, views on life, values and actions are also symbols that we belong to our family group and the combination of these things distinguish ourselves from other family groups.


This photograph is taken from my IGA work shirt, but this emblem is also featured on the compulsory IGA aprons.  The symbol is an identifier for all those who work in the same grocery store as I do, but also a larger symbol for the IGA association.  It is important as when travelling to and from work, and while at work, one who is wearing this symbol must be conscious of their actions, attitudes and manners as they are representing something that is much more than themselves.  It is a physical symbol which represents what my work stands for and the wider association.  When wearing this uniform, I am representing my boss and colleagues, and any detrimental action or attitude which I present may have a direct effect on the business of my work thus it is important to be conscious of my behaviour at all times.


I have photographed my senior school jersey which contains my school emblem and my name.  While I was at school, it represented my direct belonging to the school community and also my place as a role model through my placement in senior year.  However, now that I have graduated it has a different meaning, it reflects the past but also denotes my belonging to the Thomas Hassall Anglican College Alumni association.  Now that I no longer wear my school uniform, my group identifier is only through my past connections to the school.


The above is a photograph of my Baptism certificate which I received after I received baptism at the age of 3 months.  While this was not my decision, at the time, I became a member of the Catholic religion.  However, it was my choice to continue through to completing my Confirmation at the age of 13.

This symbol denotes my family’s wishes to bring me up in the Catholic religion and pass all their teachings and ways onto myself until I was old enough to make my own decisions.  While their are usually not any outward symbols, other than wearing a cross necklace or other piece of jewellery, the symbols are generally brought about through actions and words.


The above not to great photo (due to privacy issues, clearly) denotes my identifying with New South Wales’ Provisional 2 licensees .  The outward symbols are my holding of this licence, but also the green p plates which I display on my car.  It is easy to identify members of this group while driving and thus repercussions include often being pulled over by police, due to our provisional licence.  There are rules which must be followed in order to retain membership of this group, and to progress smoothly to receiving a full licence.  While one does not really choose to become a part of this group, it is unavoidable when learning how to drive and completing driving tests.


Kabbalah is a set of scriptures which exist as an of-fshoot of the religion of Judaism.  It revolves around a set of mystical beliefs which include heavy studying of the Torah, meditation, magic and devotional practices.  While many people who practice the Kabbalah set of beliefs are Jewish, non-Jewish followers also support the beliefs.

The red bracelet image above denotes the symbol which Kabbalah followers often wear to distinguish them.  It originated as a piece of red string made from red wool thread and obtained from Israel, but now many more decorative versions have been made since many celebrities began identifying themselves with the belief.  The bracelet is worn on the left hand in order to ward off misfortune that is brought about by the ‘evil eye’.


Japanese street fashion is a very large part of their youth culture.  Ganguro translates to ‘Black Face’, with the fashion consisting of very dark fake tans, hair which is usually died blonde or silver-grey, silver eyeshadow, black eyeliner and brightly coloured clothes.  The fashion imitates (loosely) that of the stereotypical Californian beach girl.  Japanese fashion magazines such as Egg and Ageha have a strong influence on the fashion and encourages the self expression of teenage girls.  The wild portrayal of make up and clothing is also a rebellion against high school standards and regulations.


The letter ‘X’ is the main symbol for the straightedge movement which refers to a subculture of hardcore punk that believes in refraining from drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and taking recreational drugs.  Many straightedge followers even extend as far as to not taking caffeine or any prescription drugs, not engaging in promiscuous sexual activity and sticking to a strictly vegetarian or even vegan diet.

The movement came about as a reaction to the drug abusing and promiscuous ways of the punk movement and was coined by the song Straight Edge by the band Minor Threat in the 1980s. Straightedge is also often abbreviated to the form sXe and band names and often myspace and other screen names have x’s added in them, for example xthinlinex.  The ‘X’ symbol, however, is usually marked on the back of the hands and/or worn as patches on clothing and bags.


Planet Ark is an environmental organisation based in Australia.  They work to make people aware of their impact upon the environment and help them reduce their daily impact through their campaigns.  They organise events such as ‘National Tree Day’ where they encourage volunteers to help them plant trees in order to reduce our carbon impact.  Other schemes they organise include placing boxes in certain shop in order to encourage people to recycle items such as used ink catridges, mobile phones and Christmas cards.

Planet Ark can be identified by their logo which is seen on their banners, website, shirts, stands and any other campaign material.


Male and female (generally, teenage) individuals who associate themselves with the music and fashion group of ‘scene kids’ feature choppy, often razored hair cuts with bright coloured streaks/patches.  They also often have facial piercings and wear heavy eye make-up, either black or brightly coloured.  They usually dress in ‘skinny’ jeans and tight t-shirts which may feature cartoon characters or bands.  Girls often also wear brightly coloured bows and jewellery.

Their music taste is much wider than that of their ’emo’ counterparts, from which the scene kid look stemmed, and ranges from rock to indie to techno to electronica.

In conclusion, groups form many different parts of the lives of humans, stemming from spiritual beliefs to the environment and including more lighthearted components such as fashion.


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