The Pressure to Perform: Looking at Style as a Performative Act

By: Faith Bugenhagen


The city streets are concrete canvases that house individuals walking from point A to point B, stopping often in between. This is how city living circulates, an un-ending pendulum of buzzing activity. Cities house some of the most creative, artistic people, blending them into the crowds and faces that are seen sporadically throughout a day. 

Any other person would find this to be normal, a byproduct of living within a city, but a reality that serves the purpose of providing endless opportunities for catwalks is anything but normal. 

The city streets function as makeshift catwalks and red carpets, featuring looks that are quickly snapped via others’ phone cameras, for a mix of inspiration and envy that they hadn’t thought of an ensemble like that before.

Living in the city means existing in a culture of comparison that supersedes all others’. An amounting pressure exists like a thin veil of atmosphere, creating bodies into mannequins. Clothing is not something to be worn, it is to be adorned; meant to demarcate who you are, what you are, and define the life that you want to live. Style is a performative act here. It is not a matter of waking up every day to get dressed to merely exist, every outfit you choose is a tiny show. You’re inviting others in to look, to stare, to admire the carefully curated content of your body.

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