I can’t recall whether I’ve written about the mirror stage on the blog before. If I have, then this is going to sound a bit redundant (only a bit, though..) and if I haven’t, hurray!

Jacques Lacan originated the mirror stage and illustrated it with a narrative about an infant (between 6 and 18 months of age) beholding its reflection in a mirror and being struck by the discordance between its felt imperfections and the perceived perfection of the mirror image looking back at it. The image looking back at it is a gestalt (through the infant’s eyes) in that is it “perceived as a unified whole,” in contrast with the felt fragmentation.

We confront gestalts all the time. Maybe multiple times a day. The best example I can think of (because it’s the one someone used to explain it to me) is a model in clothing magazine. The clothes seem to fit him/her perfectly. Not an odd fold or wrinkle in sight. It makes me want to buy the clothes so that I can feel the way that model looks: unified and whole.

As I made my way through the Entwhistle reading, I couldn’t help but think about the “professional woman” as defined by Malloy as a gestalt and what troubling implications that such a conception carries with it: wholeness (in this case) for women is defined by a man, wholeness (in this case) is masculine whereas fragmented is feminine, wholeness (in this case) is heterosexual…I’m sure there are others, these are just the few standouts in my memory.

What I find so interesting about all this is that a fashion movement – if I can call it that – presented as a means to advance women in the workplace seemingly masks (or maybe it doesn’t) its perpetuation of patriarchy and inequality.

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