Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
This paper aims to analyze the strategies involved in dressing in the city of Lima, Peru. The diversity of actors in fashion allows for the analysis of different clothing narratives. Drawing from 15 semi-structured interviews with actor in the fashion industry (designers, magazine editors, models, photographers, public relations specialists, influencers and enthusiasts) I find a shared interest in the search for uniqueness through fashion styles. For them, clothes are a powerful nonverbal medium for identity expression. At the same time, these actors are deeply interested in how other people perceive them. The reflexive and modern "self" is part of a personal project composed from individual sartorial decisions. The creative freedom is used to show ‘the best version of yourself’ while ‘making a good impression’ on others. However, tensions arise between conveying your ‘true self’ and impressing other people. Nonconformist tend to reject hegemonic rules of beauty and focus on conveying their ‘true self’, even if others disapprove. Nonetheless, when the context requires it, they use corporeal traits or clothes to ‘disguise’ and remain unnoticed. Differently, more conventional people try to adapt their corporeal traits (skin color, body shape, etc.) to the hegemonic rules of beauty. Most importantly, this conventionalism is sometimes used as a strategy for escaping situations in which the interviewee fear discrimination based on looks.