Understanding "Me-dressing": An Opportunity for Greater Inclusion through Design Research and Practice

By Kevin Huw Hilton.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Building on the 1995 article on “Me-ness,” by Schultz-Kline et al and aspects of Judith Butler’s 1993 performativity of gender, this paper looks at experiences of “me-dressing” and raises issues of gender identity expression. It is argued that cultures which do not actively support gender diversity expression actually stifle the development of society’s gender literacy, and that society needs to accept people first in order to understand differences in gendered perceptions and needs. This paper provides gender identity experience case studies, and describes the Gender Cube and Gender-Profile-Board as a means of investigating the diversity of gendered design needs. What has been learned from this investigation is that our capacity to accept our own and others’ performativity of “me-dressing” depends very much on our emotional experiencing of—and responses to—garment wearing. To improve gender literacy and to design more inclusively, we need to encourage diverse forms of clothing, and encourage dialogues about what we wear, to reduce misunderstandings. A broader range of clothing and other products are needed in the marketplace for social and professional communication of identity to improve quality of life.

Keywords: Cissexual, Design, Gender Diversity, Gender Fluidity, Me-dressers, Transsexual

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 8, Issue 1, December 2014, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 376.772KB).

Dr. Kevin Huw Hilton

Reader, Department of Design, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, UK