Poseur (or poser) is a pejorative term to refer to a person who copies the dress, speech, and/or mannerisms of a group or subculture, generally for attaining acceptability within the group or for popularity among various other groups, yet who is deemed not to share or understand the values or philosophy of the subculture.
While this perceived some views in authenticity with scorn and contempt, the definition is subjective. English use of the term originates in the late 19th century.
Aren’t we all poseurs?
As kids, our parents dress us up in little suits and shoes that match the popular convention of the neighborhood we live in. Of course, we are too young to have our own values or philosophy, so we just go along with the game. Besides if everyone looks like each other we will all get along?
We pose as cowboys or fairy princesses to our parent’s amusement but they are not who we will become.
As we reach our teens, it becomes apparent that to fit in with each other, we must form groups of like-minded individuals who dress and talk and walk and adapt a lifestyle and fashion that is acceptable to each other. The blue collar kids might take the pose of Goths or bikers for the street tuffs hold them together. The nerdy kids might for a club or some after school science experiment to acknowledge their intelligence. The sport kids will become jocks or cheerleaders and the rich kids will become preppies and so it goes. Each subculture adopts a reference from magazines or social media and it reinforces the safety of acceptance.
In the teen world, being ‘cool’ is the ultimate compliment, whatever pose you decide on.
As we grow older and actually start deciding our own values and philosophies we may adjust our appearance and experiment with new rituals of being accepted. We may adapt our lifestyle due to dating or peer pressure.
With employment requirements for dress codes and discipline order, we adapt more. Family requires more variations in our personal being so our internal impression of our self does not match the confines of the PTA or the HOA or the restrictions of the country club.
Sometimes we go too far?
Impostor syndrome (also spelled imposter syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
As time moves on and titles and accolades are bestowed, our society recognizes us for achievements and wealth associated with them more than our personal values or philosophies. Again we adapt.
Author’s note: I’m a poser. I posed as Davy Crockett and Roy Rogers referencing television and movies as my guide. I lived through the 60’s and posed as a hippie. I looked somewhat the part that I saw in magazines and newsreels. I bought whatever was somewhat available in the local Army/Navy surplus store and grew my hair to an acceptable length. I inhaled, so I tried to play all the parts, but I had not conviction against the Vietnam War other than keeping my ass out of the rice patties. By the time I started working for a conservative newspaper I adapted to the business world and earned my pay. Idealism and questions of existence where put aside for the reality of the day.
Was I just faking it? Going along with the crowd that accepted me then following the trends until they changed? Sure! It is called life.
Am I posing now? Well, I haven’t started wearing black socks and sandals or driving golf carts but I’m getting to that age. By the way I dress and act seems I do not need as much acceptance from society. I’ve posed to be in many different subcultures and now have built my own, which I’m comfortable in.
Perhaps limited social interaction is better for some? Acceptance may just become toleration. For in the end, whatever makes you happy is the key.