Fashion body techniques knit cardigans and knitwear. What does it mean to talk technology or as a technical device? Different cultures think of the norms of their self cultures in quite distinctive ways but are often oblivious to the arbitrariness of these codes. An anthropologist who analyzed cross cultural forms of body decoration observed that early travelers and missionaries, blissfully blind to their own powdered wigs and tight laces, considered all other signs of barbary and savagery.
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Very often, we think of the clothed bodies as a natural form simply dressed up for a specific occasion. However, bodies although composed of natural parts s never natural but is always produced by how it is clothed. Think of a newborn baby. Although born naked, a baby is immediately wrapped in clothing or fabric perhaps having been washed first.
Already, the natural is transformed into a social by the type of clothes or fabrics and post-natal rituals prescribed by cultural mores. As a baby grows into a toddler, clothing rituals are elaborated. Slowly a child starts to put on her or his own clothes. Over time, the bodies learns for how to perform as a trained social bodies. The bodies then is a technical device that is the outcome of how it has learned to perform.
In sum, it is the repository of a constellation. Using an ethnographic approach following Mauss and Bourdieu, this chapter argues that dress and decoration of the bodies are specialized technic of display and comportment rather than mere refl ections of general and impersonal social forces. Accordingly, how we dress is a constructed by our clothes, body decoration, language, gestures, and physical comportment.
We move our bodies
So are ways in which the body performs in terms of rules that both construct and constrain its behavior. From the earliest age, our bodies are trained in appropriate ways of behavior in the context in which we live. This is achieved in a number of ways, including “prestigious imitation” that is, copying those whom we admire and wish to emulate and correction or punishment for transgressions.
As we grow, we move our bodies in ways learned from training, for example, as when we learn to swim or play a musical instrument. So how we behave is neither natural nor inevitable. The product of specific discourses interacting on different levels of power and knowledge and in different realms, such as social, political, aesthetic and psychological forms of knowledge.
In the same way, we learn how to dress ourselves, what to wear for certain occasions, and how to look after our bodies and groom ourselves from how those around us behave and instruct us. In short, bodies is produced as a social and socialized device and is equipped with technical attributes and mechanisms. Marcel Mauss analyzed this social production of the body through a triple viewpoint, namely the conjunction or simultaneous fusing of three modalities of training: fashion identity physiological, psychological.
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These training modalities are embedded in wider structural frameworks of power that are manifested in wider contexts such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, and disability. Hence the body is not just technical and social but the embodiment of political arrangements. For example, class position dictates the kinds of trainings, orientations and performances acquired by an individual. In the same way are gendered and boys and girls learn specific gestures as well as different clothing regimes.
Thus we can see that there are different ways in which we perform and project our bodies across different places and times; that is to say, body are historically variable yet bodies are also culturally specific. In other words are highly structured and context dependant. We prepare our bodies for public display and present ourselves in quite deliberate ways.
In this sense, our body image forms the basis of our idea of self and identity as an individual, shaped both by our bodily performance and by how others perceive us.
Bodies are “worn” through technologies of movement, restraint, precise gesturing, and continual adjustments according to the dynamics of the immediate space occupied by the body. The performing body refers not only to the body itself but to the space or context in which it performs. Mauss calls this performing aura the habitus of the body.
Habitus refers to the specialized and internalized knowledge that equip people to negotiate different “departments of existence” that is, the different spaces they occupy and roles they perform. Like bodies, habitus is the product of explicit training, imitation, and absorption.
Is performed and habituses are occupied as if second nature or unremarkable. That is to say, bodies are internalized or naturalized to the point where we do not perceive them as learned or arbitrary but simply the way to do something specific to the social milieu.
When the body performs a certain role, it brings together specific performances, spatial relationships, specialized knowledge, and the ability to tie these together into a specific performance. These become routine or habitual just “normal” or taken for granted. Throughout our lives, we adopt specific performances for different roles, occasions, and spaces, sometimes sequentially or simultaneously.
While there may be overlap between some roles, other roles may require types of performativity that clash with others