Rudd and Lennon (1994) note that behaviors associated with appearance management include dieting, exercising, weight training, cosmetic use, and selection of apparel to enhance ones appearance.
Women are socialized to pay more attention to appearance than men (Kaiser, 1997). Therefore, women are more aware of the manipulative potential of appearance than are men. Clothing can be used to create a favorable public image and influence the perceptions of others. By modifying the body through weight loss and changing ones appearance through the use of clothing, an individual can change the perceptions of others so that they become more favorable. More favorable evaluations by others can lead to an increased self-concept. Appearance is one of the most prominent ways to display and reinforce self-concept.
Interest in appearance is multifaceted and may reflect characteristics central to self-definition through extensive time, energy and resources expended on appearance (Kaiser, 1997). In consumer research, it is argued that the social self is achieved through the purchase and use of products that portray an image consistent with (or a compromise between) the consumers actual and/or ideal self-concept (Sproles & Burns, 1994).
Women who are dissatisfied with their body may buy and wear clothing that camouflage certain body parts or emphasize other body parts, both of which may help to bring the perceived body image more in line with the ideal body image. Dieting may also be used as a tool to help bring the perceived body image closer to the ideal. By spending time and money on dieting and exercising, women believe that they can improve their appearance and, as a result, feel better about themselves, thereby improving their self-concept. As evidenced by the increase in time and money spent on dieting and exercising behavior, appearance is an extremely important part of ones self-concept. It is believed that through personal appearance (in this case specifically through appearance management and clothing behavior), an individual presents personal identity, attitudes, moods, and value or self worth. Bloch and Richins (1992) suggested that the use of products to enhance appearance, such as cosmetics, hair coloring or clothing, may be a means of increasing self-esteem. Differences in self-esteem may translate into differences in AM behaviors.
Appearance Management is a process enacted with others in mind that involves experimentation and self-expression. Appearance Management includes dress as a process as well as the assessment of the social consequences of one's appearance. Individuals engage in Appearance Management each day of their lives, even though level of involvement and concerns related to dress and appearance may differ from person to person and culture to culture.