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Durham University

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Colls, R. (2006). Outsize/Outside: Bodily bignesses and the emotional experiences of British women shopping for clothes. Gender Place and Culture 13(5): 529-545.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Whilst there has been substantial research in geography concerned with ‘the body’, little consideration has been given to the ‘sized’ body. This article aims to counter this by considering the concept of ‘bodily bignesses’ as a way of understanding the plurality of female emotional and embodied experience through empirical work concerned with British women's experiences of clothes shopping. This involves breaking big bodies out of those categories that act to define their corporeal form for what they ‘represent’ within medical, moral and political contexts. Emphasis is placed upon destabilising the category of ‘bigness’, through utilising the concept of ‘the monstrous’ that is based upon the idea of understanding morphological difference beyond a simple opposition to the ‘normative body’. This provides a way to consider bodily size as a number of differential emotional experiences. For example, empirical examples focus on what it feels like to shop for ‘big clothes’, how women evaluate the suitability of clothing for their (un)suitable bodies, and acknowledges the feelings of self-acceptance that women experience as they come to terms with their bodily size.

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