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Dress, Comfort and Vulnerability: The Intimate Hijab and Religious Habitus

Almila, Anna-Mari (2014) Dress, Comfort and Vulnerability: The Intimate Hijab and Religious Habitus. In: Fashion and Its Multi-Cultural Facets. Interdisciplinary Press. ISBN 978-1-84888-309-3

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Almila, Anna-Mari

Dress has often been called ‘second skin’ – but what does that mean? Certainly dress is intimate, but how does that physical and emotional intimacy actually develop? In this chapter, based on extensive fieldwork with hijab-wearing Muslim women in Finland, I explore the material-embodied, social and emotional processes related to dress and dressing.

The interplay between dress and body works simultaneously in two directions: when body becomes dressed, dress becomes embodied. In this process, material comes to matter in three ways: first, how it touches the skin and provokes sensory comfort or discomfort. Second, materials underpin the shape and look of dress and so influence how the dressed body appears. Third, movement of material in relation to body either covers or exposes the body. These factors contribute to feelings of comfort/discomfort and protection/vulnerability experienced by the wearer of the clothes. By such means, dress becomes embodied, which contributes to the internalisation of religious habitus in the case of ‘Islamic’ veiling.

Moreover, as hijab becomes embodied, Islam becomes represented. The hijab in ‘the West’ is a controversial dress, both defended and criticized passionately. The debates reflect back to the hijab-wearing Muslim women through the forms of harassment they face. In order to feel protected against such harassment the women develop dress strategies that aim to reduce their vulnerability. Thus the reactions to the hijab pose a threat against which hijab as dress can be used: ultimately this chapter argues that hijab is both exposing the women and protecting them.

Official Website: https://www.interdisciplinarypress.net/online-store/ebooks/ethos-and-modern-life/fashion-and-its-multi-cultural-facets
Additional Information (Publicly available):

About the volume:
Fashion is multi-faceted in its inclusion of people, places, and products. How people dress and adorn themselves reflect their space, their time, and their innovators. This collection of essays reflects the changing world of fashion from historic topics of change, to new fashion places, to new media outlets for fashion communication, and to critical issues related to comfort, ethics, and innovation. The authors examine familiar names of fashion like Coco Chanel and Tim Walker and introduce us to new names like Ann Lowe, Tommaso Cecchi De’Rossi, and Warwick Freeman. The contributors to this collection represent a variety of places (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America) and share their observations, studies, and experiences from the perspective of their cultural backgrounds and disciplines.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Embodiment, material, habitus, Muslim women, Finland
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Interdisciplinary Press
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 2014
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2014 15:30
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2014 15:31
Item ID: 7445
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/7445

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