Sep. 20

Art@Lunch: "Banishing the Bustle: Constructing Whiteness Through Dress Reform"

September 20, 2023
12 PM – 1 PM
Bunting Center
1401 W Mount Royal Ave
Online Location

This talk will examine the relationship between scientific racism and fashionable dress during the 19th  and 20th  century. It will explore how undergarments such as the bustle and brassiere have been used to shape white women’s bodies into forms associated with the bodies of women of color, and in turn to give those women a sexual allure that was achieved through technological means that did not inherently taint their racial or sexual purity. It will consider how these garments were written about by both their advocates and detractors to understand how their framing functioned to reinforce a white supremacist hierarchy. It will also explore how the rhetoric of fashion and science bolstered and reinforced each other in unlikely ways. It will show the ways that the ideas promulgated by scientific racism permeated the everyday lives of people through fashionable dress and the discourse around fashionable dress. (Content Warning: this talk will include discussions of racist imagery and will include some of these images)