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The Functions of Clothing

Man without clothes appears to be a peculiarly, perhaps uniquely, naked animal, or a hairless naked ape. There is, however, a false implication in this title, which is that other apes are clothed by hair or fur. That is apart from not being up righting which requires less covering.

The question, therefore, is why people adorn their bodies, why people wear and have worn clothes, and what are the functions of clothing?

In general there are two main theories in regards to the function of clothing:

1. Seduction

It may be surprising to learn that some of psychologists of today suggest that the motivation of wearing clothes is precisely that of immodesty or exhibitionism. They argue that it is the job of clothing to attract attention to the body rather than to deflect or repel that attention. The body, then is more openly on display according to this theory.

Rudofsky1, for example, is explicit on this matter; he argues that the woman has to keep her mate ‘perpetually excited by changing her shape and colours. Women`s clothes, he says, are governed by the Seduction Principle and men`s clothes are governed by the Hierarchical Principle.

His theory has also been associated with what has become known as the ‘theory of the shifting erogenous zone`. Erogenous zones or body hot spots are different parts of the body of a female, which are seen as more attractive. Such as hair, breast, bottom, legs, etc.

2. Protection

According to this theory the primary motivation of clothing has been to protect the body against physical and psychological (moral) dangers;

a. Physical danger

• weather: cold, hot,

• accidents: in dangerous occupations such as sports and some other crafts,

• human or animal enemies.

b. Psychological (Moral) danger against

• indecency and immodesty

• sexual assault

• family dissolution

• to achieve modesty and concealment.

The problem of the issue of the Hijab is the realisation of the need for protection. Once the individual realises that the modest dress protects the person from all of the possible waiting dangers, the practice of Hijab becomes unavoidable.

Adapted from: “Hijab, A Divine Value” by: “Sheikh Mansour Leghaei”

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