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  • For as long as I can remember, I have been mesmerized by what might be called vestimentary signification — acts of signifying through the decisions one makes about how one presents oneself.

    Wearing a wristwatch can signify that one cares about time.

    Kippot, tefillin, veils, crosses — these can indicate commitment, covenants.

    A wedding ring can be evidence of a speech act: I commit, I agree (to you, with you). An oath has occurred.

    Such things signify both outward and inward. They can help others make sense (of us). These things, though simplifying and reductive, can aid in reading, in comprehension. Wedding ring? Okay, this person is (probably) committed to another person. Kippah? Okay, this person is (probably) Jewish, observant. A rhinestone dollar sign belt buckle? Okay…

    My own choices, in terms of how I present myself, tend toward minimalism and neutrality. Minimalism and neutrality (deliberate ambiguity) resist simplification and easy categorization. Minimalism and neutrality increase mobility (across different cultural and social spheres).

    What I’m less sure about is signification inward: how such signifiers affect the person who wears / bears them. I wonder if such things can help to focus the mind; if such things can make one feel grounded or calm; if they affect our biochemistry. If so, how?
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