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Russian immigrant women and the negotiation of social class and feminine identity through fashion

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Building on the growing body of literature that examines the consumption of fashion and the construction of identity through clothing, this article uses data from in-depth interviews with ten women aged 52 to 75 to examine Russian immigrant women's experiences of fashion. Specifically, we explore the ways in which Russian immigrant women's clothing choices and attitudes towards fashion are framed by their socialization within Russian cultural values (which privilege feminine appearance), their assimilation into Canadian culture, their resistance to Canadian views of beauty and femininity, and their feelings about their aging bodies. Our findings reveal that Russian immigrant women's doing of gender, age, social class, and immigrant status are shaped by culturally and historically situated conceptions of femininity as well as by decisions to either assimilate into North American culture or to other the self as distinctively Russian.

Keywords: aging; beauty work; fashion; femininity; immigration; women

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The University of British Columbia.

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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