Cutting bella figura: Irony, crisis, and secondhand clothes in South Italy

by Stavroula Pipyrou

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By Stavroula PipyrouFull Article: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/amet.12098/abstract


(image:
http://americanethnologist.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/08/pipyrou-600px-300x298.jpg alt: Only 1 Euro! Mercatini dell’usato in Reggio Calabria, September 22, 2011. Photo: Stavroula Pipyrou.

Only 1 Euro! Mercatini dell’usato in Reggio Calabria, September 22, 2011. Photo: Stavroula Pipyrou.

) Only 1 Euro! Mercatini dell’usato in Reggio Calabria, September 22, 2011. Photo: Stavroula Pipyrou.Ravaged by financial austerity, people in Reggio Calabria, South Italy, are deeply concerned about their ability to maintain a bella figura (beautiful appearance). The introduction of secondhand clothes markets in 2010 was met with high emotions, bringing to the surface anxieties about the smothering social pressures to display a certain appearance and status in public. In troublesome encounters with secondhand clothes donated from northern Europe, actors adopt an ironic outlook, oscillating between fundamental categories of inclusion and exclusion, such as bella figura and secondhand citizenship, that conflate global flows of charity with colonization. Secondhand clothes are a possible solution to maintaining bella figura but only by means of delicate waste management.