Analyzing the inscribed body : an investigation of how the uniform inscribes the body of Zulu-speaking domestics workers in Queensburgh, Durban.
Domestic workers are commonplace in South African society, with most middle to upper-class homes employing a domestic worker. Recently the area of domestic work in South Africa has gained much needed attention with regard to legal issues. Many domestic workers in the past and even currently, are exposed to exploitation and abuse in many forms. The main concern of this dissertation, however, is the woman that does the domestic work. Women have always been concerned with their bodies – the form and shape, dieting, clothes worn, amongst many other things. Although many may not think so, this concern has not escaped domestic workers. This group of women are extremely concerned with their dress and how their clothes and bodies are perceived by the public. This study addresses this issue paying close attention to the woman behind the uniform. Domestic workers often travel daily to get to their place of work. Commuting to work holds a sense of occasion for them, where, since they do not have much in the way of social lives, they dress up to travel to work. This dressing up is two-fold. Firstly the domestic workers in this study dressed up to impress others (especially other domestic workers) and improve their self-esteem. Secondly, their dress is linked to their past and their future aspirations, many of these women have aspired to become professionals in certain fields, but their goals had become unachievable due to their unfortunate circumstances. These issues are explored and discussed in the dissertation below, situated within the context of the domestic workers lives in South Africa, both during and after work.