Revisiting the symbolism of the Hoody

and creating a platform for voices of 'the other'

· Musings

Recently I was reminded of the symbolism of the hoodie by the charity, Amaze, and World Autism Acceptance Month.

Why a hoodie? For Amaze, some autistic people experience sensory sensitivities and can become overloaded by stimuli in their environment; wearing their hoodie up means they can block out bright lights and busy environments which helps calm them. 1

Further the psychology behind wearing hoodies is linked to the struggle some teenagers have with low self-esteem or anxiety, which hoodies can help cover up. The oversized nature of these sweatshirts allows them to hide their physical insecurities or just create a feeling of safety for themselves. 2

I became aware that the Amaze campaign had been particularly taken up by schools as a means to promote understanding, acceptance and inclusion of the Autistic community.

These schools were gathering, putting their hoodies up, and together showing a little more understanding of how our communities can support and embrace autistic people and celebrate the diversity autism brings to our world. 3

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This is yet another interpretation of the hoody. In 2010 I created a series called 'Ponder the Hoody'.

Seeking to challenge how our contemporary values and perceptions are communicated through non-verbal expression, I produced a number of pieces where the central theme was the hoodie.

I found that this simple piece of clothing worn by millions had become a confusing, provocative and powerful symbol. A wardrobe staple for many across society, a garment used for warmth and comfort, had also come to colour peoples’ perceptions about the individual or associated group.

While for some the humble hoody is a lightning rod for anger and moral outrage, the pieces in the Hoody series aimed to create a new narrative that challenged the profiling of people based on what they wear and, by extension, their class, colour and other classifications society chooses to impose.

I went on to create a number of works including My Tribe, The Secret, My Space and Slumber. In exhibiting these works I found they were a platform for the voice and lived experience of ‘the other’. For those that are not us , but in reality are all of us. #respectother

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  2. /why-do-teens-wear-hoodies-in-the-summer/