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Dress for Success

Dress for Success

(p.93) 3 Dress for Success
Coming of Age in Iran
Manata Hashemi
NYU Press

This chapter examines the physical dimension of facework. As the risk of losing face hinges primarily on being exposed as poor, youth manipulate their mannerisms and appearance to present a middle-class front to others. Fashionable tweaks to their appearance project kelas(class) and a certain cultural know-how that can subsequently help face-savers extend their personal networks to encompass the type of people who can facilitate their entrée into the world of the well-heeled. The imperative to appear classy and knowledgeable of global fashions finds precedence in Iran’s historical preoccupation with modern fashions and is cultivated in the present day through mediums including billboards, officially sanctioned cultural productions, and new media technologies. Face-savers’ bodily capital is used not only by community members to decide which youth are most worthy of incentives, but also by face-savers to provide justification for their own sense of moral worth. Internalization of the gaze thus creates symbolic boundaries between youth that reproduce cycles of micro-stratification within communities.

Keywords:   appearance, kelas, bodily capital, tastemaking, cultural production, satellite television, social media, gaze, horizontal exchange networks, vertical exchange networks

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