“COVIDwear” and Health Care Workers. How Has the New Materiality of Clothing Affected Care Practices?

The pandemic fundamentally changed the material culture of clothing for care workers. If most of them wore already some sort of uniform, be it for hygienic reasons, be it to make their status visible, Covid19 profoundly transformed the clothing codes, beyond the mask. These new “protections” thoroughly changed the caring experiences in several aspects. As they enclose the body more intimately, working conditions became more laborious. The sensory land¬scapes of care (vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell) were fundamentally altered. Working rhythms had to be adopted as putting on the garments took longer. If care clothing had been characterised by a slow de-standardisation since the 1970s, the pandemic made a uniformed and medicalised uniform again mandatory.

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