I am not getting smaller, all my clothing just wilted in the seeping Summer, drooped from its hangers in the mothy Fall. My clothing was stretched out by the hanging (dead) weight of the seasons I spent too undone to presume myself dressable, too nothing to presume myself ornamentable. All my clothing died, I forgot to feed and water and walk it. Its body bloated and will rot soon enough. If I bury it in the yard in the moonlight maybe the neighbors will never guess my neglect.
I am not getting smaller, my clothing is drooping with lonely age.
The whole fiber industry invented us, we are subjects only after we are sizes. Did you know that, in the boom of mass manufacturing, in the invention of things like “department stores” and “buying your clothes,” “sizes” as we know them (0, 2, 4, 16, or) were implemented exclusively, for a long time, in women’s clothing? That men were expected to tailor their suits, complimentary, and women were expected to find themselves in a number or pay extra? (This might be a second-wave myth, I’ve got no citations handy. But I find it useful, and believable.) Women’s clothing invents the woman. No concessions, no custom contours, no complementary hemming.
Clothing invents a body boundary, but now clothing precedes us. It is not a pant to describe our legs; it is our legs, in a pant that describes its own reality. The legs a pant describes are more real than the legs on “our” “bodies.” When we we are all dead, we’ll leave behind our pants, telling a history of legs that never even existed. Evidence of “a” “body’s” “shape,” regardless of whether any body was shaped like that. The pant comes first, the pant is the reality, our bodies are precluded by the permanence of pants that don’t describe us (that don’t fit quite right).
Germano Celant says:
Fabric is also the cloth that can be defined as “a garment,” a role which is dual and which, like shirt, tunic, skirt, sweater, and blouse, refers to a body. Something on the outside that reflects what is inside. The structure of a language, cut to follow the contours of a person and adapted to his or her physical boundaries can tell us something of that person’s significant “traits.”
A pant refers to a body, a panty refers to a butt. It’s a visual language we understand, too: if I showed you a glove, you would understand I am speaking of hands. But what kind of hand does “a glove” speak of? A hand with five fingers, a hand that fits in a glove. A glove is a thing which forecloses a hand as something, forever, and every other kind of hand doesn’t exist.
Germano Celant says that “a garment” is cut to follow the contours of “a person,” but really “a garment” is more often cut to reflect the contours of no body in particular, and as such ignores the contours of “our” body. Of the body that “exists.” (Which is to say nothing of: the “garment” which comes to us contoured, formed, in one piece, finished, referring to no real body whatsoever, who was the one that did the unseen “cutting”? The sewing? Surely their body is not being referred to by this garment.)
Once I worked hard to find garments that presumed to be talking about my body, that “fit,” that made my butt look nice. But I shrunk, or they stretched, and now they whisper about somebody else’s body. Somebody else’s butt. Or, more likely: nobody’s body at all, no body’s butt at all.
I would feel more like a real subject, a subject that exists and will continue to exist, if my pants contoured me. If there were pants that outlined me, that remembered me. If there were pants that were a history of, a novel about, my butt. Pants that, when I am dead, would still exist to remember the outline of the thing that contained “me,” all my insides, all my brains and thoughts and feelings.
I spoke of the cruel ignorance of the garment, presupposing a subject without care for the person, without care for the body that is “real.” But I am also thinking about my own cruelty, the way I feared the validation of pants that made my butt look perfect. The way I shrunk away from them when they knew me too well, when it got to intimate. Maybe I was real for a little while and it scared me so I shrunk out of it.
Germano Celant also says:
Her laying on of this covering is determined by a surface that, over the course of time, conserves the traces of its use, the testimony of a life. The surprising vestiges of a personal and subjective world which, through clothing, can bring memories back to the surface and to life.
and I think, I have done the opposite. I have not shrunk, I just let my clothing die while I spent months in the bathroom and when I came out, they didn’t remember me at all. Not a “testimony of life” but a loose, baggy, inflated outline of death.
Am still wondering about the “bringing back to life” bit.