Clothing can be a powerful means of communication. It can reveal something about an individual’s personality, or at least about the way he or she wants to be perceived. It can also provide us with information about everything from gender to class status, religious views to politics. Whether worn by women in Europe and the U.S. or Sudanese men in Africa, corsets, for instance, shape not just the body and the way we look at it, but also the identities of their wearers.
Questions to Consider
- Both the garment worn by the women in the photograph above and the work on the mannequin are referred to as corsets. In what respects do they perform similar functions? In what ways are their functions different?
- In America and Europe, corsets were worn by women. Among the Dinka, this item of clothing is worn by men. Think about clothing in your own culture today. To what extent do you think clothing defines the gender of a body?
- How would you describe the relationship between fashion and the body? Where, if at all, do you see art coming into this equation?
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