The Use of Dress to Navigate Pregnancy and Postpartum in Ghana

Elizabeth Yemorkor Odoi*, Day K. M. Wong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The transition to motherhood often involves navigating multiple, often conflicting, identities, which calls for negotiations across various aspects of the self and identity. Apart from collective body management practices in Ghana, different ideals of maternal dress and appearance coexist in the context of globalization. Drawing insight from Goffman's dramaturgical theory, this study explores the role of dress in navigating pregnancy and motherhood and the significance of social interaction and the audience in the negotiations. Through interviews with 42 mothers in Ghana, we identify three primary forms of embodied performances: that of a traditional mother; a fashionable and modern mother; and a productive and professional worker. By focusing on the dynamics of power relations, as well as the strategies that underlie these performances, such as idealization, role distancing, covering, and passing, we obtain a nuanced understanding of maternal performance in the Global South, specifically Ghana.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Education
  • Communication
  • Social Psychology
  • Nursing(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Ghana
  • appearance
  • dress
  • embodiment
  • mother
  • performance


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