The Significance of Clothing

Like these days in time, clothing plays a major role in the class and status of the characters in The Help. Now, we see clothing as a way of expression and reflection of who we are or who we wish to be. During the 1960’s there was not much choice in the matter according to societal status and line of work. In our class discussion about oppression, I pointed out how the maid’s uniform oppresses status and is an indicator of one’s line of work, oppressing the job of being a maid. They all wear the same uniform and I feel like the word uniform has been used so many times since we have been reading. Most of the time when Miss Skeeter did interviews, the maids were still in their white uniforms. Another example was how maids were invited to the white children’s weddings but they had to be in their uniform. This physically shows the class and status barrier that was being faced during their time. The black women were oppressed by their job as maids, it being their one indication of social status, and their uniform was the physical oppression they faced, having to wear it all the time. As for the white women in the story, their ability to wear anything they wanted and buy clothing for special occasions was an indication of their higher social and economic status. From Celia’s tight green dress to Miss Skeeter’s transformation from blue jeans and an untucked blouse to a new light blue Lady Day skirt and matching jacket for the Senator’s house, the author uses clothing to depict personalities of the white women as well as their oppression by societal standards; like how she also depicts the oppression of black women through the white maid uniforms. Clothing plays a vital role in creating the imagery of oppression in The Help.

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