Mobile Phones: Trendy, Girly, and Identity

From early times the telephone has been used as a source of communication. The telephone has evolved over time into something more technological and even fashionable. When the telephone became mobile, people became more attached and personal with them. Cell phones are now being seen as trendsetting. Time has shown that specific phones were more popular than others. The Razor, The Chocolate, The Envy, and the iPhone are all mobile phones that were trending at one point. These devices are used for expression and creating of identity as well. Women, specifically, can now use phones as a gender technology. The iPhone is a prime example of the expression of social identity and fashion.

In James E. Katz and Satomi Sugiyama’s (2006) article the mobile phone is described as “..a device upon which social identity is created and expressed within people’s domestic intellectual domain.”(p. 322) Roger Silverstone and Leslie Haddon’s Domestication theory is valuable ”. In understanding the degree to which this once bulky, expensive business tool has become a personal technology, integrated into our bodies and fashion sense, and thus domesticated.”(p.322) Like wristwatches, phones are used as accessories as self-expression. The article explains that the most fashionable people are also most fashionable with their phone choices. As trends in phones changes so do the persons choice in phones. People may interpret others “fashionableness” by the way they use their phone.

Katz and Sugiyama also looked at different cultures phone usage. They studied Young people from the US and China was given questionnaires on their mobile phone usage. Their research proved that users who are more fashionable are more open to using mobile devices, use these devices more often, and are also more likely to try out new mobile devices. Their study also suggests that heavy users care more about what their phone looks like and light users place less value on the style of their phone. (P.327)

In Carly Ganito’s article Women on the Move: the mobile phone as a gender technology (2010) she presents her article as “a view of the mobile phone as a new media and a “technology of gender”, a place of gender construction and transformation.” Like Katz and Sugiyama (2006) Ganitos article believes phones to be fashionable and gender technologies. In the three waves of feminism, the idea and representation of women was constructed from media and prior beliefs, which influenced women to think that way about them. Ganito also explains with citations and examples, that ideas of gender are created through history, culture, and stereotypes. These preconceptions act as a whole for gender not just narrowed for one person. (p.80) Ganito believes that mobile phones can be liberating tools for women. Women can express themselves by using the phone, choosing colors, and personalization. (p.83) The article explains that phones can be used to debunk stereotypes or can be used to embrace those stereotypes.



Both articles embrace the idea that mobile phones can be used for social identity, fashion, and expression. The iPhone especially is a technology that can be used freely. Danny Sullivan (2012) wrote about how lucky he was to come out of the Apple Story alive the first day the iPhone 5 came out. He explains that most people do not even have a reason for wanting the iPhone so badly they “Just want it”. Whether it’s the shiny glass screen or the swank element that other phones just do not have, the iPhone seems to be beating out every other phone out right now. Most of the time people wait in line just to be the first person to say they go the new iPhone. This is an obvious fashion trend because almost every Christmas people wait inline in front of Best Buy or the Apple story to get the latest trendy technology. This crazed fashion trend is reflected in Katz and Sugiyama’s study from 2006 Surprisingly, women tend to lean more towards iPhones than any other mobile phone. IPhones have features that promote self-expression. Women can buy pretty cases and key chains for their phones. There are also tons of accessories to choose from. The newest craze is the iPhone 5S that just came out. People can now buy specific colors, even a gold iPhone.

Mobile phones have changed drastically over time, becoming more of a fashion statement than piece of technology. Identity is an obvious trait in mobile phones. The way some one uses the technology can be seen as fashionable. The mobile phone can also be used for individualism and a gender technology. Previous thoughts of feminism can be changed through the use of mobile phones. The iPhone is becoming a popular technology that can be used for multiple purposes including social identity. Fashion and gender are significant parts of mobile phones and identity.


Works Cited:

Ganito, C. (2010). Women on the move: the mobile phone as a gender technology. Comunicação & Cultura, 9, 77-88.


Katz, J. E. & Sugiyama, S. (2006). Mobile phones as fashion statements: evidence from student surveys in the US and Japan. New Media and Society, 8(2), 321-337.


Sullivan, Danny. (2012). Life in the iPhone 5 line: Fashion as a must-have ‘feature’. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from:



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