Promoting Healthy Body Image Through the Costume Design Process

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This paper focuses on incorporating healthy body image and body awareness into two aspects of teaching costume design; the research and rendering phase, and the fitting and design realization process. Using Lisa Loomer’s The Waiting Room, a play exploring the body modification of three women from different cultures and time periods as a basis for research and character analysis, students begin to understand the cultural, social, and political frameworks behind significant historical fashion trends, and to translate that information into a design that communicates the same messages on a contemporary body to a contemporary audience. As students begin to research each culture and time period, they are tasked with finding ways to relate to the characters through common feelings of body confinement and dysmorphia, for example, finding commonalities between the Chinese practice of foot binding, Victorian corsetry, and modern day plastic surgery. Advanced student designers, when given the opportunity to realize their designs, are challenged with promoting healthy body image through their sketches and in fittings with performers. By addressing the way costume sketching is taught and steering away from 9-head fashion sketches, student designers are better able to demonstrate a full understanding of character, and the performer who is represented in the sketch is more likely to relate to the design and see it as an attainable image. In preparation for fittings, student designers are coached on how to address and clothe varying body types and are then guided through the fitting. Designers learn to see and dress each performer’s body without judgment or cultural bias, while maintaining the significant style lines and aesthetics a particular production, time period, and culture requires.

Original Citation

Giurleo, M.K. (2016, April 29). Promoting Healthy Body Image Through the Costume Design Process. Paper presented at the 2016 Symposium Fashion and the Body, St. Paul, MN. http://design.umn.edu/fashionand/body/documents/FINALFashion_Body_Proceedings424.pdf

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