Clothes and Identity in “Kiki’s Delivery Service”

Even though I’m not a nudist I write about nudism. I was thinking of watching Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). The reason I say these things are:

That’s what caused me to start to think about how clothes define a person, and what being unclothed can symbolize.

And that’s why this post exists.

How clothes define a person

Clothes do more than keep a person warm, protect them, and preserve their modesty.

Clothes can also be a mark of status and/or occupation.

For example: The black clothes that Kiki wears set her apart. Her clothes say “I’m a witch.”

What being unclothed can symbolize

After Kiki catches a fever because she endured a rainstorm…

Kiki47

…we see that she is unclothed: Lying in bed in order to rest and keep warm while her soaked clothes dry.

Kiki46

This is where Kiki is at her lowest point.

This point can be symbolized by Kiki’s loss of clothing: Kiki has separated herself from who she is — a witch — by taking off what (on the outside) identified her as a witch — her black clothes.

Kiki doesn’t do this because she’s ashamed of, or wants to “escape” from, being a witch. She just does it because she feels it’s necessary in order to get better.

For Kiki, taking off clothes — giving her soaked clothes the chance to dry while she tries to stay warm — is a step to recovery. “Recovery” meaning putting on her black clothes again and continuing to do her duty as a witch: being a delivery girl.

For Kiki, taking off clothes is not some kind of liberation. She feels worse than ever. Being unclothed does not cause feelings of Edenic peace and freedom.

Adam and Eve8

What is my point with a post like this?

Clothes are more than something that provide protection and warmth, and preserve modesty.

Clothes are more than something to be taken off in order to return to an Edenic style of living. (Genesis 2:25)

Clothes can symbolize who we are. And a lack of clothing can symbolize how we are feeling not only physically, but emotionally, too.

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