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The body as costume: The theatricality of the male body and the modern peep show

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This article explores the body in relation to theatricality, identity and appearance through the examination of an interview and photographs given by one of the founders of the group The House of Disappointments in Helsinki, Finland. Photographs of their gendered, costumed bodies are posted on social media and I propose, create new ways through which the gendered body becomes a symbolic costume when viewed through the lens of peep culture – a voyeuristic world where new configurations of space create new theatrical paradigms for performance. Indeed, this action enables the idea of the human body of the social media user to be interpreted as a costume that functions as a scenographic device in itself and to become a liaison between the new ways that theatrical performance integrates itself into the culture of cybervoyeurism within the scope of everyday life. The act of performing gender in virtual environments expands the rituals of traditional theatrical forms and the ways we see the body. In postmodern society, the act of performing the body in social media has become both a mundane gesture and a performative act. For the social media user, the act of peeping has become the norm and an intrinsic part of the process of ‘being online’. Social media users participate in deliberately voyeuristic activities such as looking at people’s postings, as well as sharing photos, videos, messages or comments online. Spaces like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among others, are configured in a way that the user is socially allowed and encouraged to glimpse and participate in other people’s lives.
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Keywords: body; costume; gender; performance; queer; scenography; social media; theatre

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Aalto University

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.

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