Event Title

[Pn. 2] The body and femininity: Young Taiwanese Women's Conformity and Resistance under Patriarchy

Presenter Information

Ming-Chun Hong, University of York

Location

HPC2 170

Panel

Dressing Up Bodies: Performativity, Discipline and Resistance

Abstract

The female body has been playing a central role in modern fashion culture, described in terms of the locus of social control (Foucault, 1977), the ‘reflexivity of the self’ (Giddens, 1991: 77) and ‘a text of femininity’ (Bordo, 2003: 168). Skeggs (1997) has postulated that femininity has become the property of middle-class women who could prove themselves to be respectable through their appearance and the ways they manage it. Young Taiwanese women are thought to have gained more individuality and agency over the last few decades. This paper is based on the research sought to study their perceptions of bodily performance and to determine whether their accounts conform to prevalent notions of female attractiveness and the development of individuality. I examined how young metropolitan Taiwanese women discipline their bodies and appearances through wearing feminine outfits, and how these decisions were subjected to the influence of parents, others and themselves. I interviewed 24 metropolitan women between the ages of 19 and 31about their identities, self-image, public image, and femininity. The result indicated that body awareness plays an especially prominent role for young Taiwanese women. For the women interviewed, the process of dressing themselves demonstrated contradictions between maintaining individuality and conforming to social norms. Through reflexively negotiating external surveillance and self-monitoring, they constructed a sense of self which is related to body awareness and the internalisation of body image.

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Oct 19th, 10:00 AM Oct 19th, 12:00 PM

[Pn. 2] The body and femininity: Young Taiwanese Women's Conformity and Resistance under Patriarchy

HPC2 170

The female body has been playing a central role in modern fashion culture, described in terms of the locus of social control (Foucault, 1977), the ‘reflexivity of the self’ (Giddens, 1991: 77) and ‘a text of femininity’ (Bordo, 2003: 168). Skeggs (1997) has postulated that femininity has become the property of middle-class women who could prove themselves to be respectable through their appearance and the ways they manage it. Young Taiwanese women are thought to have gained more individuality and agency over the last few decades. This paper is based on the research sought to study their perceptions of bodily performance and to determine whether their accounts conform to prevalent notions of female attractiveness and the development of individuality. I examined how young metropolitan Taiwanese women discipline their bodies and appearances through wearing feminine outfits, and how these decisions were subjected to the influence of parents, others and themselves. I interviewed 24 metropolitan women between the ages of 19 and 31about their identities, self-image, public image, and femininity. The result indicated that body awareness plays an especially prominent role for young Taiwanese women. For the women interviewed, the process of dressing themselves demonstrated contradictions between maintaining individuality and conforming to social norms. Through reflexively negotiating external surveillance and self-monitoring, they constructed a sense of self which is related to body awareness and the internalisation of body image.