Embodying geographies : clothing consumption and female embodied subjectivities
This thesis is situated within three main developments within social and cultural geography concerned with the practices and spaces of consumption, the corporeal turn as a means to embody geographical knowledges and the role of clothing in the materialisation of bodies. The main intention of this thesis, therefore, is that it acts as a means of animating theoretical articulations of the body with in-depth empirical work (individual and group interviews and accompanied shopping) concerned with women's embodied experiences of clothing consumption. Therefore, the practices of consumption form a vehicle through which a detailed account of the intricacies of female embodiment can be discerned. Female embodied subjectivity is made sense of through post-structural work on the (female) body which works against dualistic and static understandings of embodiment to highlight the fluid and messy constitution of subjectivity (Grosz 1994). Empirical articulations of female consuming bodies focuses on what this subjectivity looks/ feels/ sounds like, through elaborating upon the tension between material and discursive bodies, the ability of bodies to co-produce each other (including my own), and identifying a need to move beyond understanding the body as a presence which must be materially there to 'matter'. Instead, this account of female corporeality presents a more nuanced account of how women experience their bodies and thus, the role that theoretical bodies have for making sense of these embodied experiences. Female embodied subjectivity is discussed as, what I have termed, 'bodily doings'. These are Slimming, Sizing, Zoning and Looking and are presented as independent yet related theoretically annotated empirical accounts of female embodiment. Through these 'bodily doings', I will highlight how the female body figures in accounts contemporary consumption beyond a victim/resistance dichotomy, rethink the typology of flesh in order to unsettle categories of bodies such as big and small, focus on the potential for the matter of female bodies, such as flab, for understanding women's experiences with their own materiality and re-orientate debates about 'body image' and what it means for women to look (at themselves and each other) and be looked at. In a sense this thesis has no closure, and instead, concludes highlighting the potentialities that this thesis has for empiricalising female embodied subjectivity in its inherent fluidity and indeterminacy and emphasises the importance of situating 'the bod)" as a place to theorise from and work with rather than upon, in order to get at what is too often uncritically posited as "the geograph)' closest in'.