Belly buttons and veils: girls in the multicultural society

By looking at the symbolic markers girls use to express their identity, this line theorises the ways young girls (age 12-13) understand and position themselves in the Dutch multicultural society.

The project focuses on the ways girls use their appearance and popular media to perform their identities. Two simultaneous debates gave rise to this project: the debate about headscarves in class and the growing societal concern on what has been labelled ‘porno chic’: belly button shirts, g-strings, deep cleavages and so on.

The concept of performance formed the theoretical basis of studying young girls. In contrast to approaches that look at what specific acts represent and where they come from, ‘performance’ helps to understand how specific certain aspects of style (the body, clothing and media use) produce identity instead of reflecting it. The data consist of ethnographic fieldwork at two sites, focus groups, in-depth interviews and several less conventional methods such as respondents’ photo-essays.