Sounds like a doctoral thesis. But the show is engaging and thought-provoking.
This season, Gates, a journalist-actor, has talked to transgender models in Thailand about beauty pageant attire, American women who want weapon-concealing clothing and Muslim women in France who don traditional garb like the burka despite a 2010 ban on face-covering garments.
The French episode blasts past rhetoric and Islamophobia and introduces us to women who want to cover up to respect religious tradition. Two sweet-faced, scarf-wearing high schoolers tell how they love France and want to study medicine. Their school has a no-headscarf policy, so each morning, they must reluctantly take off the covering. Gates notes, “They asked us not to film them without their headscarves.”
This Tuesday, “States of Undress” visits Bolivia, where Spanish colonizers foisted European garb — shawls and full skirts — upon indigenous women to “civilize” them, according to designer Glenda Yanez of the Aymara people. The women reinvented the outfits with bold colors and decorations and added bowler hats, she says.
Resplendent in a fiery orange shawl, Yanez twirls, her skirt flaring out, and declares, “We are the generation who claims what is ours.” Moments like this remind us that in many parts of the world, we are what we wear.
Read more of Marc’s musings: