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An exploration of dress and identity among new mothers: The implications of breastfeeding for clothing choice

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One of the biggest challenges associated with breastfeeding is finding clothing that is conducive to this process. The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of breastfeeding mothers relative to clothing choice. New mothers who breastfeed their infants must consider the clothing they wear during this time, especially in terms of functionality, comfort and aesthetics, while simultaneously make clothing choices that help communicate their identities as new mothers. Little research exists which explores how women use clothing in the development of this identity or the role of breastfeeding within this process, therefore a qualitative research approach was employed to examine the experiences of breastfeeding mothers relative to clothing choice. Upon IRB approval from the researchers’ university, in-depth interviews were conducted with 24 women who were mothers for the first time within six months of recruitment. As a result of iterative analysis, three themes were identified and used to structure the interpretation. As this study reveals, women who breastfeed their infants face several challenges in terms of clothing choice, which impact how they use clothing to integrate breastfeeding into their identities as new mothers.
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Keywords: body dissatisfaction; breastfeeding; clothing choice; identity; new mothers; social comparison

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: High Point University 2: University of North Carolina Greensboro

Publication date: March 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • 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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