Situating the Dressed Body in the Social World

Dress lies at the margins of the body and marks the boundary between self and other, individual and society. This boundary is intimate and personal since our dress forms the visible envelope of the self and, as Davis argues, serves as a visual metaphor for identity; it is also social since our dress is structured by social forces and subject to social and moral pressures.

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If, as Mary Douglas (1973, 1984) has so forcefully demonstrated, the boundaries of the body are dangerous, it is therefore no surprise that clothing and other forms of adornment, which operate at these ‘leaky’ margins, are subject to social regulation and moral pronouncements. It is no surprise either to find individuals concerned with what to hang at these margins. Douglas articulates this relationship between the individual body and the social forces pressing on it, arguing that there are ‘two bodies’: the physical body and the social body.

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She summarizes (1973: 93) the relationship between them in Natural Symbols: the social body constrains the way the physical body is perceived. The physical experience of the body, always modified by the social categories through which it is known, sustains a particular view of society. There is a continual exchange of meanings between the two kinds of bodily experience so that each reinforces the categories of the other.Check the site Filmy god

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