Aesthetic labour, Body, and Femininity

Aesthetic labour, Body, and FemininityThe value of certain looks or appearances is constructed intentionally, and it directly takes part in social stratification. The explanation for this practice can be found in the concept of aesthetic labour. Aesthetic labour implies the practice of screening, managing, and controlling workers on the basis of their physical appearance. When read together with femininity and body, the concept discloses several crucial dimensions. Assistant Professor Dr Ipsita Pradhan, Department of Liberal Arts, published an article titled Aesthetic labour, Body, and Femininity: Insights from a Retail Shop-floor in the journal Sanghaditha. The paper is translated from English to Malayalam by Dr Anu Kuriakose.


The essay discusses the importance of the body in interactive service work. By focusing on women retail shop floor workers, employed in the apparel and cosmetic sections of multi-national brands argues that employment in this sector requires working on one’s body to produce a “presentable” body by grooming so as to fit the larger image that the mall presents. The presence of the mannequin and its dressing is also analysed to understand how it perpetuates stereotypes of the ‘ideal’ body through the apparent function of attracting customers or giving the customers an idea of the products on display, simultaneously perpetuating the male gaze on ‘acceptable’ feminine bodies.

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