Doing Age, Doing Gender. Negotiating Deviant Bodies Via Self-Made Fashion

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Julia HAHMANN, University of Vechta, Germany
Clothes are important signifiers to show belonging to social groups and so is the act of clothing. While traditional structural perspectives on clothes and especially on fashion offer insights on social stratification and social change, a praxeological approach allows for the implementation of the used material of clothes, the clothed body and other practices that reveal how individuals produce and reproduce their social affiliation or deal with for example societal norms that are related to their gendered and aging body. Using the example of sewing blogs, I develop an analytical framework to understanding processes of ‘doing age’ and ‘doing gender” in the sphere of home dressmaking of women*, focusing on descriptions of the aging body, images of femininity, associated clothing norms, and related strategies to negotiate these topics in the public sphere as can be illustrated via international blog postings. Analyses show that dressmakers understand the (subjectively perceived) defiant body to be a life-long changing material that is not only affected by an increase of age but also by other circumstances, such as job careers, pregnancies, etc. The deviant body is addressed as a material that needs to be covered appropriately. While age norms are mainly refused when it comes to its neutrality, non-sexuality and industrialized ideas of beige clothes for older women, gendered norms in contrast are highly internalized and reproduced. Women* tend to present themselves as seductive but dignified.