The Politics of Style: Fashioning the Student Body




Pendry, Caroline

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This study investigates how students at George Mason University negotiate and construct their identities through dress, hairstyles, and other alterations to the body. Whether we see ourselves as an environmentalist or feminist, Muslim or Christian, female or male, black or white, we employ clothing and hair styles that both reflect and reify these affiliations. Style is also deeply imbedded within youth culture and shown to be a primary mode of distinction in which youth are involved in positioning themselves within the social, cultural, and political landscape. Through clothing and hairstyle, the students in this research consume cultural materials in an effort to express and represent individual identity claims that simultaneously locate them within social categories relating to race, class, gender, and sexuality. The politics of style emerge as students use marks of distinction to draw symbolic boundaries in which they align and distance themselves with moral and ideological belief systems.



Style, Identity, The body, Consumption, Women and gender studies, Youth culture