Deviant bodies and suitable clothes

Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Mari Rysst


Suitable clothes are clothes that make the body socially accepted. The theme of this article concerns what people with deviant bodies do when suitable clothes are difficult to find; clothes that make their bodies fit in in everyday social contexts. Based on interviews with Norwegian men and women, the focus is on those people who have bodies that deviate from the present Western bodily ideals of thinness, fitness and no deviances.

The article relates the interviews to research in two different fields: disability studies and fashion studies. A primary focus is on the relationship between acceptance of one’s own body—“making the best out of it,”—and respondents’ different strategies for coping with the situation. The final discussion addresses the relationship between the clothes market and deviant bodies. Focusing on a group of people with special problems related to clothes might bring forth new knowledge in general. In addition, a change in the status of the market may have positive effects for those already excluded from this market.

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