Costume

Milotice-castle

Last summer we visited a Milotice castle, a baroque castle situated in South Moravia. When we entered the castle’s court yard, we noticed a poster inviting everybody to “Change into a period costume!”. After a while we noticed a group of three women dressed in enchanting period gowns. Obviously they were having fun while promenading in the castle’s park, posing for photographs and chatting, and it felt as if we found ourselves in that period as well.

The way we dress ourselves definitely influences or even decides on how we feel. To put on clothes of a different style than we are used to wearing may evoke a surprising experience of any of the whole spectrum of feelings. What would it be like to put on not the clothes but a body and personality of “a different style”? Sometimes I wish I could try that though the experience would probably be rather shocking.

A few weeks ago I read about an experiment done in this field. A man and a woman, dressed only in their underwear, had a video camera placed on their face. Each camera was connected to the other camera in such a way that when they were looking at their own bodies, they could see just the body of the other person. Can you imagine that? To feel your body but to see someone else’s?

And what about hearing your own thoughts and listening to someone else’s? Feeling incapacity of the other body? Maddening ideas perhaps and actually, what that could be good for? Just in the back of my mind I can hear whispering suggesting that perhaps then we would value more our own thoughts, skills and personalities and would understand better our weak and strong points.

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26 Comments

  1. Soosie

    What a challenging – and frightening experiment. There are portions of my body which at intervals lose sensation. To say it is disconcerting minimising what can be terrifying.
    And your giant leap into inhabiting other people's heads? Again frightening – but with huge potential.
    I am going to consider these issues for some time. Thank you for a mind opening post.

  2. Anyes - Far Away In The Sunshine

    Hmmm, what a very interesting proposition you have here Petra…So much to think about. I believe it would certainly give us all the assurance that regardless of how we look we are ALL the same…our feelings and thoughts are ones of humans and in that we might finally learn we are all connected.Truly a mind opening post here, thank you Petra

  3. Catherine

    Stripping things down to the barest essentials would certainly expose our vulnerability…….it strikes fear into my being…..but I'm sure eventually we would all get over ourselves…..mmmm….thought provoking stuff Petra!

  4. Honey

    it reminds me of the book, "black like me," when we become something other than who we are to sensitize ourselves to others, and in this case, to sensitize ourselves to bodies! what a thought! thanks for a fascinating post.

  5. Ginnie

    I wish I could think outside the box like that, Petra, to come up with mind-boggling exercises to limber me up! I usually depend on others to do that for me, like you have just done. Brava. Having said that, I must say that it IS quite invigorating to dress up in a costume that makes me feel awesome. I suppose I should do it more often. HA!

  6. Elena Caravela

    Intriguing! To address just one part of your thought provoking post, clothes say so much about us. Clothing helps to decide our moods and visa versa. It also projects to the world all sorts of information about us, which is categorized and judged in a split second, by others. Great post Petra, you've got me thinking…

  7. Barbara

    What a fascinating set of questions and mental meanderings, Petra. A few people in my life, who I sometimes just don't understand, came to mind when you asked some of these questions, and I thought, yes, that would be so enlightening to see what it is that really goes on in their head. So much of life is our perception of our surroundings – that we really can't know unless we could step inside their minds and hearts. Wow. ANd yes, I absolutely think we'd have, or I know I would have, a better understanding of how people view me and my quirks, weaknesses and strengths, if I could step outside myself and look from the outside. Great thought provoking post!

  8. Susan

    This is interesting stuff to think about, for sure. I like the idea of dressing in period costumes in a castle court yard and playing for awhile!

  9. Susie@Life-Change-Compost

    My husband and I have been married 37 years. I have a blonde wig wherein I am "Gina"…another where I become "Sophia". Does that count? Hehe.

  10. Juli

    Thought provoking questions, Petra! I was just out buying a new outfit for a special occasion. And, it's so true..how you dress affects how you feel. I noticed it as I tried on things that fit my body, perhaps, but not my personality. It felt like I was in costume, even though I was trying on contemporary clothing. Trying on a different body..to be honest, I've thought of it many times. We have such cultural norms about attractiveness. Height, weight, features. There have certainly been times in my life when I wished I was taller, and/or thinner. I do believe you're so right, if we could live in another's skin for a day, we'd better appreciate our own strengths and weaknesses, and certainly better appreciate the experience of another. Love this post! Thanks, Petra!

  11. Carola

    Very interesting post, Petra. My first thought was, if we could see and perhaps "be" someone else's body (for a certain time) we might be more compassionate with people who have ailings and disabilities. I would love that aspect.

  12. Gotham Girl Aka Robin

    Interesting! yes, indeed…how we dress determines how we feel! I know one thing…as soon as I quit corporate I sold or gave away all the suits and high heels and I've never looked back, ha! Love Susie's comments about her wigs…I have a girlfriend who wraps herself in saran wrap and greets her husband when he returns from trips. I'm sure you won't be able to get that visual out of your head, ha! Fun and interesting post!

  13. Deborah

    I'm wondering what kind of costume I might like to wear…most likely something from the mid to late 1800's. That sounds like fun to me.
    And then I think of my daughter before her wedding in 2004. She went to try on wedding dresses, and when she found The Dress it was because it made her "….feel like a bride."
    This post is going to linger in my mind for quite a while now, thanks, Petra!

  14. Linda At To Behold The Beauty

    You do come up with some thought-provoking posts here, Petra. 😉
    One thought that came to my mind was that what we wear does project an image of us to others, and sometimes it's not the image we meant to project when we chose the outfit. We might be shocked if we knew how others perceive us, just based on that quick impression they get when they see our outer "wrapping." Those first impressions are often difficult to overcome.
    Another thought kind of goes along with that…that it would be interesting to see ourselves as others see us…interesting and perhaps very revealing. Maybe it's best that we don't have that opportunity. If we saw admiration in their eyes, it might make us puffed up. If we saw displeasure, it might shake our confidence and affect our ability to live productively.

  15. Maery Rose

    The days I feel the most drab and like putting on my most comfortable and yet, very unbecoming clothes is the day I try to do the opposite and pick something very tailored, with some drama or color to it. It does make a big difference in how I go forward in to the day. Even if I'm working at home, if I stay in my pajamas, I'm not very productive.
    But the thought of wearing someone else's entire face or body, I just realized, even if I've thought how great it would be to have their hair or shape or perfect skin, is a frightening thought. Surprisingly, I don't want to look like someone else because in my mind it would mean being like them, with all of their experiences and personality instead of mine, too. Wow. With all the wishing away I do. That's an unexpected revelation.
    Thanks for the post!

  16. Zena

    Clothes definetely have a deep influence on my mood. In fact, I often choose my daily outfits depending on that. On the other hand, when we use unusual costumes some of undisclosed sides of our personality can be more visible. This is what happens along Carnival, I guess. Now I don´t celebrate it, but I remember -being much younger- the exciting sense of being someone else…
    I was to young indeed to explore those feelings, but retrospectively I can see that it helped me to connect to some sides of myself that I have counsciously cultivated (and let go out) afterwards…

  17. Sue

    While teaching school, I noticed that the students always acted better on 'dress-up days!' I'm a firm believer that what a person wears influences attitudes and behavior. Now…with regards to 'in our underwear'….well, I'm pretty self-conscious to say the least! 😉

  18. Jennifer Richardson

    I so enjoy (and find challenging!) the idea
    of doing life and relationship
    with a barefoot heart…..buck naked:)
    this is such a sweet challenge;
    thank you,
    Jennifer

  19. CherryPie

    That experiments sounds as if it would be rather disconcerting for the two taking part. It would be interesting to know how they felt about the experience.

  20. Kelly

    This is fascinating. I have always wished to know, for a day, what it feels like to be inside a male body.
    And we do put so much importance on outward appearances, even when we don't want to, it happens unconsciously. I think the way we feel inside is easily affected by the way we think we look on the outside, I feel completely different when I am in pajamas than when I am dressed up for a party. A very intriguing topic!

  21. Donna@Gardens Eye View

    What a fascinating idea….I am still trying to feel comfortable in my own skin but maybe this would help….I have always wanted to have a time machine to go back and live for a while in different eras…what a way to experience life!!

  22. I've read the article you linked to. The idea and the effect of the experience to Be Another is wonderful. Hopefully world leaders, especially in the countries in conflict with another ones are willing to try that. Practically it might be impossible for everyone and anyone to try the machine to "be another, however, it could be possible to use the imagination to "put yourself in another's shoes". Thank you for sharing another interesting topic, Petra.

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