Fashion and body. Aesthetical links of self-image. © Copyright by Victor Aquino, 2001, 2006 WEA Books & Publishing Inc. Monroe, LA USA

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We live immerse in a world of images. In a way that we all, by the time we are wrapped up by the endless attribute of forms and figures, we are also converted into icons exposed in the huge repertory of images that, usually, are disseminated by the universe. We are, as we may say, integrant part of this huge scripture, converting us at the same time, into “letters” and “readers” of this scripture by the way of what is represented in the planet. There are not only a few specialists that nowadays dedicate themselves to studying images. The interests that guide studies and researches, according to origin and nature are very. It is not the case; however, of mentioning here some of them because even the most notorious are yet to fulfill, as they should, the construction of the human figure form, not only from clothes, but from everything that gives directions as soon as it is wore. It shall also be mentioned that, likewise, the studies about the individual from forms that adopt the wearing haven't been frequent. We rarely have the chance of observing the concern of the specialist of the human figure, having the man as the center, perspective and consequence of transformations in the clothing industries. Because only from these transformation the marketing stimulation functions would be easily understood, of a social or cultural character, with reflexes on the human being construction.


Although not being aware of fashion generative process, the individual acts in it actively. The circumstance of his/her action, however, it depends a lot on the nature of his/her insertion (voluntarily or involuntarily) in the social context in which such process is developed as much as it depends his/her cultural characteristics. In other way, it is important to say that factors such as age, posture related to media, personal tastes, among others, are the ones that will establish the means in which they will be inserted in this process. We can also say that the human being has lived, especially over the last few years, in function to fashion, the process in which it is generated, and also from changes produced by it. Based in records available in the present report, we can verify a natural tendency of the human being adjustment to the process. From researches, in which the thesis coincide with the title of the present article which guided equally to the publication of the homonymous book mentioned, we verify that the way human figure is constructed has assumed self proportions. Based, notably on the understanding that each one has as concepts of “old” and “young” and “old fashioned”, modifies postures individually and the forms of auto representation in the socio cultural context. A simple classification that is established for other characters reveals the existence of a qualifying system that surpasses the corresponding concepts. Thus, when someone refers to others as “ugly people” or “pretty people” he/she is not only classifying them, but also revealing, through a qualitative personal posture in which the system is qualified by, not only to others, but to him/her. For more arbitrary such qualification seems to be, it implies two verification: (1) the one that refers to decisive values of who's pretty and who's ugly; (2) the one that refers to individual repertories dependable of such values. Thus, who classifies the remaining, according to his/her own standards, can also be classified.


It happens, however, that the individual values are invariably positives in relation to who qualifies the others. That is, whatever the concept expressed about the others is, and who expresses such concept possesses on him/her the reference so that from it, he/she classifies others. What is a problem; from the point of view of that every one of them disposes of his/her own repertory of dissimulation.



When we observe someone, no matter who he/she is, we shall always take into consideration everything that is part of him/her. Especially something that, being part of him/her, it cannot be perceived. It is like saying that there is an indication of dissimulation that qualifies the everyone beyond what they appear to be. But why we are driven to this conclusion? Well, for the simple reason that by the time someone shows him/herself up, he/she hides deliberately. Because, if in a way, when showing him/herself up, this someone plays a character role so omitting him/herself, as a whole or partially, covering some of him/herself. This way, when someone qualifies another person by the simple attribute from what, on his/her understanding stand, is “pretty” or “ugly”, he/she is revealing somehow his/her most hidden side. Therefore, for being hidden, attribute representations that perhaps he/she does not have are inserted. The hidden side of each one conducts concepts, conditions and contradictions that are exteriorized from representations that dispose, specially on clothes, the function of making the “other” the one he/she is on the nude. That has been one of the clothes function. From the moment that a “griffe” convert itself into address/garnish mandatory from any T-shirt, reasons and meaning of the respective use are altered. No long matters what guides a consumer, whoever he/she is, to picking a certain T-shirt, in the act of purchasing, to make the option not only because of


the color, size, pattern, originality, but specially because of what it represents, or what it remits, the label of the corresponding designer name.

Table I “When We Get Old?”
Bellow 20 Above 20 Above 35 Above 50 No Parameter No Answer 15% 55% 20% 9% 1% Between 20 & 35 12% 44% 28% 14% 2% Above 35 10% 36% 32% 19% 3%

Source: Correa, T. G. Moda, Arte, Corpo. Sao Paulo, CEM/Livros, 1999.

The table above that shows part of the data collected in the research mentioned reveals interpretation in a very special way that three groups of individuals interviewed offer to “period” in which we get older. It is important to observe how the greatest concentration of the younger ones indicates ages of 35 years old. And the group of older ones seems not to be convicted by confusing the ones between 35 and 50 years old. Perhaps this data reveals one of the consumer's standard that, as we can see next, faces fashion on a very specific way.

Table II “When Shall We Follow Fashion?”
Bellow 20 Up to 20 Up to 35 Always No Answer 44% 41% 12% 3% Between 20 & 35 13% 47% 34% 6% Above 35 7% 51% 33% 9%

Fonte: Correa, T. G. Moda, Arte, Corpo. Sao Paulo, CEM/Livros, 1999.


On the table above, as we can see, while the group of the older ones understands that “we shall follow fashion” up to 35 years of age, the group of the younger ones demonstrate to have no conviction regarding it. Therefore, it indicates that fashion shall be followed between 20 and 35 years of age. The data from Table I as the data from Table II demonstrate an evidence regarding the lack of conviction in some age groups. That's because they are situations that involve the so-called personal image construction. For this reason, perhaps, in distinct situations unanimity is what reflects ourselves ignorance. Table III “What Represents Fashion?”
Bellow 20 Between 20 & 35 Some Artist Some Top Model Some Athlete Some Character Others No Answer 32% 19% 33% 12% 3% 1% 30% 21% 29% 16% 2% 2% Above 35 28% 26% 24% 18% 1% 3%

Source: Correa, T. G. Moda, Arte, Corpo. Sao Paulo, CEM/Livros, 1999.

Likewise here, we verify that, despite of the age groups interviewed, concentrations are equally the same. Being the ones of younger age (84%), being intermediate age (70%), or even the older (78%), they are all relate fashion to a consumer standard: “artist”, “top model”, or “athlete”. Similar referential projection is characteristic of the research mentioned, indicating a relation type between consumers, specially the younger ones, and the clothes designer names which are marketed from a “fashion” context. Being pretty or ugly, appropriate or inappropriate, being used or not, requires previous knowledge of the meaning from what it is desired, the meaning of him/herself and the meaning of others.


Or, in other words, how the others are classified in a universe in which fashion, to be fashion, shall be something understood collectively.



A sample, to be used as an example, taken by chance in the campus environment. It does not matter much which institution has been chosen because in this particular one, most of these realities are close. They are hundreds, perhaps millions of people who compose this environment of a characteristic way turning it into spaces of ideas and concepts that arbitrate themselves, on daily basis, according to rejection and preferences of patterns. A large number of people, regardless the nature of the bond with the environment in question, develops a representation that goes beyond the role they play on it. The simple fact of finding it on a campus environment, makes that values are attributed to mostly everything to be discussed beyond life and death. In most part, these people seem to have very “clear” ideas about all this. They rarely left something remaining free from opinions. Usually, everything is objective of “absolute” classification, previously classified to be used in the parameter of any qualification type. Nothing is excluded or left behind consideration, under negative or positive aspects, when discussing things, sometimes the most trivial ones. From politics to culture, economy to education, art to astronomy, technology to pure science, soccer to religion, ecology to movies, all deserve a conclusive reference by all. Most of the time, even professors, with a working life dedicated to science and culture development, join this representation. It means: they play a role that, beyond


professional acting, involves a very typical posture as “referees” not only from what they teach but also from a countless number of other subjects. Being who they are, professors and researchers have a great probability to assume a “referee” role in knowledge. Such role that extends far beyond the field they specifically work. This is neither good nor bad. Not even intended this work to being a criticism habit. It relates only to a record analysis. A record, however, that is evidenced on each person's opinion field when this person establishes his/her own quality reference for each thing, idea, procedure, phenomenon, product and so on. As fashion is always on the axles of contemporaneous attentions of each one, what happens is not different. That is, not even the utilization of fashion is free from this judgment type. That was the reason why the following example was chosen in the context of the own campus. The example, while a formulation of a “conceptual image” that classifies the person from the stereotype and prejudice, from the esthetic point of view, describes the human being from his/her own appearance. Someone who, in this case, is an extremely ugly person, and has wide open eyes, enormous mouth and a big disproportional nose. All this as an integrate part of a visibly small head where there is a long, mistreated hair-raising victimized by innumerous use of curlers, straighten tries, homemade dyes, done with the minimum professional criteria, which seems to be a result of someone who just come from a quarry bombing. Yet completely disarrayed, with the visible impression that she tried to turn herself into a demonstration of the 70's. Long dress, colored socks, raw leather sandals, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings handmade, complete the “picture” of someone “original”. And that, which is considered, for many, as a demonstration of permanent “bad taste”, for others it might be considered “taste of originality”. However, the fact of being someone who is a university professor, of insinuating (but actually show off), the authority intellectual “look” over innumerous subjects,


contribute a lot to support the ideas impact that usually impose to the present ones. Especially when these ideas are related to his/her own opinion about fashion. When he/she refers to someone as “ugly”, who consider him/her ugly, can be exactly opposite reference to his/her opinion. Or even when he/she finds the opposite. Such example, according to what is perceived, can be used in the comprehension of how anyone proceeds classifying, everything, according to personal values this someone adopts. Then, according to his/her understanding, everything can be object of preference or rejection. From a personal point of view, based in an individual esthetic conception, everything can be object of classification or catalog. Objections and opinions unilaterally emitted over any matter, are often used to revealing the other side of who objects or give an opinion; the dark side of a person. This condition, however, reflects the compulsory presence, in a large number of occasions, of people who give opinions over how to dress from other people. It is not necessary to say that, most of the time, these opinion project much more than concepts of use. They are used to project the self configuration of who gives opinion first.



Dressing is, above all, the conjugation of feelings. Feelings that go beyond what is intended to be expressed with the clothes that will be used. For this reason it is already allowed to say that clothes determine a situation that surpasses the dress use itself. Understanding this matter, it will be understood the first and huge function of fashion: fantasy. Table I V “When is Someone Ugly?”
Bellow 20 When someone is bad When someone does not dress up When someone is out of fashion WhenWhen someone does not dress accordingly or is clumsy When someone imposes his/her visual to others No Parameter No Answer 22% 17% 18% Between 20 & 35 12% 21% 21% Above 35 4% 24% 23%







5% 4%

4% 3%

3% 2%

Source: Correa, T. G. Moda, Arte, Corpo. Sao Paulo, CEM/Livros, 1999.


Then the data in Table IV, as it could not be understood differently, point to an interesting conclusion: the interviewed younger group (22%) define as “ugly” “someone bad”. The group of intermediate age (63%), defines as “ugly” someone who is “out of fashion”, “does not dress accordingly” or “imposes his/her visual to others”. Last, the interviewed older group (27%) defines like that the ones who “impose their visual to others”. Preliminary reading of this research data, among other possible conclusions, brings to fire the background subject: the image we have from ourselves and others is fundamental; as much as the expectation that is developed from certain standards of coexistence in this context.



In reality, we are all “Tiazinhas”, that character in play by one of the Brazilian TV channels, which recreate a sensual woman using so few dresses and a mask. A character addressed to man fantasies and dreams. We all have special gestures that infringe the scenario in which we are inserted. We all are, at the same time, fantasy and hypocrisy. Ethics is the best disguise to hypocrisy. Ethics can be compared to bathroom door which indicates an statement of what happen inside. That's what shows only the door indicatory: “occupied”. We do not wish, of course, to establish that the character's “standard” mentioned shall be constant while a model in the process of fashion production. What it really matters from it is the “dissimulation” effect, no matter if the model is a bathing suit (as in this case), or the habit of a nun. What it really matters is reason that guides on person, no matter who he/she is, to adopt a “dissimulation” to hide a side of his/hers that, not being apparent, is replaced for any fantasy. Social tolerance is something restricted in the ethics field only. Hypocrisy therein is a social and cultural dissimulating away, usually adopted to brighten up everything that, although present in our habits, shall be inconvenient or constraining. Constrains that, sometimes, has to do with us, or sometimes to others. Inconveniences that confuse; from a simple opinion that bothers to a more contusing manifest of displease. As a pleasant tolerance, by the means of what it seem to be accepted something that is not appreciated, the dissimulation of what we do not wish to show is also pure


cultural hypocrisy. Opinions disguised do not show publicly what we really are, such as opinions we emit, but the ones we do not believe in, all is disguising, dissimulation, cultural hypocrisy. Show something we are not, when this appearance was adopted as deliberated dissimulation only ¾ is pure hypocrisy! Defending current ideas and opinions, in the name of ethics (specially when we do not have much conviction about anything) is the same thing. All this to state that the contemporaneous world is more overfilled than never of this hypocrite feeling that is transformed into general rules. And we do that not being aware of, finally, what we pretend to others. The world of “designer names”, “brands”, “slogans”, “styles” “campaigns” and others so present in media, is the world of hypocrisy. As, in fact, is the whole fashion universe. But before this universe, subsists a very current practice of representation, by the means of which nonexistent realities are played such as current idealizations. Forms configuration by the means of which fantasy is inserted as expression practice on people daily life, becomes usual. Being in the fashion field or publicity, or yet in the entertainment, references arise to justify the fantasized model from the projection that is made of it daily. That's the case such as “Tiazinha”. However, for beyond caricature developed from who embodies similar character, is the habit of roles development that ordinary people build for themselves. No one wears clothes, as said just now, just for wearing because clothes assume a series of events that go beyond transformation of who was in the nude and got dressed. Once “designer names” and “brands point” in the direction of idealizations built from means that are produced as “record” of what is sold.


Table V “What's Most Important on Clothes?”
Bellow 20 Confort Designer Name Color Style Cloth Fashion No Parameter No Answer 11% 15% 16% 17% 13% 21% 4% 3% Between 20 & 35 18% 17% 15% 16% 19% 10% 3% 2% Above 35 34% 18% 14% 14% 24% 3% 2% 1%

Source: Correa, T. G. Moda, Arte, Corpo. Sao Paulo, CEM/Livros, 1999.

A simple reading of the data pointed out by the research enunciated, keeps revealing that the distinct groups interviewed, that were divided by ages, have similar ways to understand the meaning of fashion use. Thus, as we can see, the most important detail on clothes for the younger group (21%), is the “fashion” one. That means: clothes should be associated to this element. In the second group, of intermediate age (19%), the most important detail is related to cloth. In the last, the older group (34%), is comfort. If the observation goes deep, it can be understood that the selected detail among the intermediate aged group means what was selected from the third group. The first identifies cloth as the most important detail. The second, comfort. No other possible reading will indicate what is found, actually, in this research: getting older is much more important to the identification of a situation in which each one is related to fashion. That's why; once again, fashion is something more viscerally bonded to youth condition of existence.


It was for this reason that elementary patterns of clothes conception forms could be perceived in social movements, whose explosion coincided to rupture of previous patterns. Patterns that, as we know, were incorporated and transformed, and also themselves into merchandises. After huge social youth movements from mid 20's, incorporation by the market, from rupture models with the current cultural and social standards turned out to be an event from which is systemize new products marketing? That was the case of models emerged in the “hippie” movement; it was the case of models emerged in the “punk” movement. No one denies that other movements produced, in reaction to established standards, models and styles that go from how to dress to musical taste. As no one ignores, likewise, such models emerged especially in a transgression process to current esthetics, they ended up being in general adopted by youth at that time, and thus, emphasizing its transformation into merchandise. That is why the second meaning of fashion, the transgression one hold a very particular importance in the process of its formulation. Since large social movements, transgress stopped being a replying “instrument” only to turn itself into “trademark” of a young generation. Youth started disposing in this way of acting, manifesting and positioning against current standards, of a convention in which it is universally expressed.



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