You Are What You Wear: Clothing/Appearance Laws and the Construction of the Public Citizen in Turkey
As Turkey set its sights on modernization and Westernization in the early decades of the twentieth century, clothing reform took center stage. The state used clothing as a constitutive element in its establishment and continues to legislate appearance as a means to maintain its power and create a model public citizen that will support it. Today there exists an extensive regulatory regime on clothing and appearance in the public sphere, which induces those governed by it to dress in a "modern" fashion. An examination of these regulations reveals the deeply politicized nature of clothing in Turkey which is guided by the assumption that you are what you wear. While choice of clothing and appearance is neither entirely free nor fully prescribed, dress codes do further restrict already limited choices. Dress codes undermine the relationship thought to exist between individual belief and appearance. Dress codes, in the case of Turkey, are dictated by the state; therefore, the appearance of students and state employees does not necessarily represent their belief but that of the state. The Turkish state, through the use of dress codes, continues to try and produce "modern" citizens, meaning Western and secular.