Hi Vis is a magazine done by LCF School of Media and Communications students from different BAs. This is the article that I contributed to the magazine with, which was also the personal essay I wrote for RAAIZ Magazine.
A puffer jacket in 24-degree weather would be deemed ridiculous in most parts of the world during the summer time.
Why is it so normal in England?
A tank top would be most acceptable in 35-degree weather anywhere in the world.
Why am I wearing a long-sleeved shirt in Egypt?
Am I conforming?
It’s been a multiple situation struggle where I’ve sat in the underground in a summer dress and felt the sudden urge to run home and change based on the amount of people I saw wearing jeans and jackets or hoodies and sweaters; even though it was boiling outside.
At first, I related it to the three years I spent in Egypt. Where I had to conform to what the people around me where wearing in order to show my respect to the Muslim religion. It was rough at first as I was living in Panama beforehand, which is a country surrounded by the sea, that is 30 degrees all year round and the basic uniform is shorts and a tank top for everyone. It felt weird not being able to dress for the weather as it was something that I always used to do. I was a teenager who woke up, was boiling, and because of that never thought twice about wearing shorts.
“This tends to come out in three different ways. The first is the desire to not be an outcast, then, you change what you believe in public but when you are alone you revert back to what you were before. And the last is based on the pure fact that you truly prefer or are convinced that whatever the group is doing is better and therefore you adopt it in your life,” mentions Liberal Arts and Science student at Utrecht university, Marijn Heindrik Geyskens. His points made me really think about my own reasoning and I concluded that each of the three outcomes related to me in a specific country differently.
In England, if I wear a puffer jacket when I don’t want to, it’s to not be an outcast or the odd one out when I’m the only one wearing a summer dress and everyone is still dressing for the winter. The second one, relates to my time in Egypt as I changed my beliefs by wearing conservative clothing when I was out in the streets, but reverted back to my summer clothes when I was back in my house. The third one, is my life in Panama, I knew that dressing for the weather was going to be better for me in order to not get ill or potentially have a heat stroke in that climate.
This conversation progressed with my friend Taya Lee Good, a Fashion PR and Communications student who is from Australia. For one of her projects she was exploring British behaviour and dress during the summer time for her project. Her country’s behavior during this time of year perfectly corresponded with my own country, Mexico, which is very similar to Panama where it gets so hot that people don’t think twice about wearing their shortest summer clothes and even bathing suits around.
Inspired by Martin Parr’s, “The Last Resort” we decided to conduct our own visual research. We decided that I would walk alongside my other Mexican friend Maria Ibarra through Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square in our bathing suits as Taya documented reactions through images and videos.
It was a very surreal thing to do, as half of the people were probably locals who just glared and muffled things to us, but where mostly used to weird things like that happening in touristic areas. However, the tourists were in to it taking pictures and glaring with extremely confused looks on their faces. It was interesting to see, as back home in Mexico seeing people walking around in their bathing suits feels more normal. “As challenging as this experience was, it was completely rewarding to get out of my comfort zone and experiment how people reacted to this experiment,” added Maria, after we walked together.
I felt a sense of wanting to run to Taya’s side and grab my dress and put it on almost every second I was out of it in the street. I wanted to conform back to London’s social norms of being fully dressed when out in the street. What is so normal in our native countries, was not normal in England. It definitely was an extreme situation, but I have felt similarly when I’m the only one out in a summer dress and everyone isn’t. Having the opportunity to reflect on these matters has been really interesting as I was not only able to analyse stranger’s behaviours, but my own and my own way of constructing my identity through the countries I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in.
Mex and the City in Hi Vis
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