We all remember the very first Walt Disney movie, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and how the wicked Queen constantly stood in front of her magic mirror, desperately wanting to be the fairest one of all. This scene can be taken as a literal example of Mead’s looking glass self phenomenon. The Queen is using the magic mirror to visualize herself as another would, even though she does not like what the mirror has to say. The evil Queen is more focused on the “I” and not the “me”; “the ‘I’ is forever elusive and the ‘me’ is the image of self seen when one takes the role of the other” (Griffin, 2009, p.63).
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is viewed as the one of many loveable Disney Princess movies, but now, as adults, we can examine different themes that we can apply in our studies. It’s one thing to watch the movie and think “evil queen and good princess”, but now we can explore why the queen is evil and if that can be related to reality. The queen refuses to listen to what the mirror is telling her, just like if your friend or parent tells you something negative or something you do not agree with. The typical reaction is to dismiss or refute their opinion, or in the queen’s case, to kill Snow White.
In Griffin’s A First Look At Communication Theory, the looking-glass self is “the mental self-image that results from taking the role of the other; the objective self; me” (Griffin 63). This is the idea of viewing yourself through another person, but not knowing exactly what and how they think of you. There is no way of knowing exactly how another sees you, but through language and interaction, one can get an idea of how they are perceived. In “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, the queen is an example of how humans are stubborn and even though we want to know how others view us, we do not always like what we see. The queen is more focused on the “I”, which is what we are born with knowing about ourselves and is too vague to pin point; therefore she did not communicate well with others learn her “me”. She is very reluctant towards the “me”, which is what we gain from others throughout our growing and maturing lives, she refuses to let others bring her down and will do anything in her power to be on top.
The looking-glass self idea is not the norm of continually asking people what they truly think of us, but rather, through communication and relationships, we are unconsciously getting an idea of how we are viewed through others. Symbolic Interactionism allows us to realize the meanings behind “I” and “me”, and how they differ. In my future relationships or conversations, I can focus on specific symbols and hints and maybe get a better idea of how I am seen from another person’s point of view.
Girffin, Em (2009). A First Look At Communication Theory. New York, NY.