The Unfashionable Human Body
Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday, 1971. Hardcover. Beige cloth boards with black lettering on the spine; color illustrated DJ with black lettering; 281 pp.; richly illustrated. VG (Boards are lightly edgeworn; interior is clean; binding is solid.) / Good- (DJ is moderately edgeworn, toned, scuffed and smudged." Item #194992
"A book that is thought-provoking and entertaining, amusing and serious, wise and easy-to-understand, all at the same time. Rudolfsky's The Unfashionable Human Body is such a work. It's a discussion of apparel in the broadest sense of the word and how it has reflected and shaped attitudes to the human body (having often been literally used to shape the body itself). Text is accompanied by scores of compelling and fascinating illustrations. The overall message is one of the continual distortion and mutilation of the body and bodily functions, the atrophy of sense, the unbalancing of natural rhythms. The argument is powerful and well-presented, the author's sweep of knowledge and range of argument tremendously impressive. He discusses early Christian attitudes to sex and clothing, and traces the crucial relationship between the two throughout history. It's interesting that some Christian paintings depicted Adam and Eve as having the genitals of both sexes simultaneously before the fall, while others conceived of them as having no genitals at all. One most compelling section of the book is his discussion of the decoration and deliberate deformation of the body, ranging from tattooing to devices to deform the shape of the head, to corsets (which displace the internal organs) to the foot-binding of pre-revolutionary China. Rudolfsky points out that most of our own feet are deformed by our shoes: for example, the two big toes should be parallel and touching when placed side by side; with most of us, however, they curve inward. According to the most popular shape of shoes, the big toe should be in the middle of the foot, not on the side. Attitudes to hair are another fascinating chapter in human history. The battle against long hair in the recent past is still familiar to most of us (and is not yet over, either); we're probably less familiar with the dramatic changes through the ages; each fashion, of course, being the only one that was socially acceptable in its time." -- WorldCat.