FASHION FOCUSED?

FOR PEOPLE THE WORLD OVER, the day begins with, "What should I wear?" It's an important question for people heading off to work, school, or social functions. Clothing, for many, is no simple matter as it is linked to how one sees oneself and one's identity. Teenagers might think about conforming to the newest style trends. Both men and women might yearn to look like celebrities gracing magazine covers, who appear svelte in designer outfits that the average person can't even afford.

However, what seem like individual decisions about what to wear can impact nations as a whole. For example, in the United States alone, in the first five months of this year, clothing stores did over $78 billion in business (www.census.gov/ retail/, Monthly & Annual Retail Trade Report). In Afghanistan, choice of clothing is beginning to indicate a cultural shift. A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor discusses how Afghan youths yearning to "throw off the strictures of the Taliban past" are embracing "Euro-style," marking the beginning of a "vibrant youth culture" ("Youths embrace Euro style," August 13, 2009).

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