Evolving meaning of the Red Guard Uniform


China Through The Looking Glass, The Red Detachment of Women, 1971.

Communist China is marked by a time under the reign of Chairman Mao from the 1950’s through the 70’s until Mao’s death in 1976. Mao promoted ideas of uniformity and collectivity in society as a way to unite the people of China across different social classes and professions. It was a highly militaristic time as Mao encouraged the rebellion against capitalism and a lot of violence entailed. This time period really influenced the style and fashion in every day life as shown in the image I chose. This image leads me to make the claim that communist fashion has evolved from its original militaristic purpose and meaning to a whole new representation and expression of creativity during the late Mao and post Mao era

clarify “a whole new representation and expression of creativity in post-mao China” what are the new representation and expression?

The clothing choice:

The women in this image are wearing a form of the communist red guard uniform. We can see the classic jacket, hat and red arm band. This image was taken in 1971, which is in the final few years of the communist time period under Mao when fashion styles were beginning to change. The choice to wear the red guard uniform clearly makes this picture a representation of the communist time.

explain why the attire choice articulates representation of the communist time?

The uniformity:

Every women in this image is wearing the exact same thing. The repetition of their outfits really emphasizes the importance of the uniform. This uniformity displays the ideals Mao encouraged of being one collective unit working together. Not only are the women all wearing the same thing, but they are all in the exact same pose. The women are literally working as one unit, moving the same way. They represent an army in a time period so reliant on military forces.

define the concept of “uniformity”: what is wrong with that?

The juxtaposition of femininity and masculinity:

Another thing I noticed, is the juxtaposition of the pose the women are in and the weapons they are holding. While, this position puts the women on their tip toes in a very delicate pose, the guns they are holding paint them in a more masculine, rough and aggressive light. This shows the complexity of women at this time, are they delicate beautiful figures or should they be empowered and strong like men?

yes, what does the concept of masculinity mean?

Female objectification:

Along the lines of the female representation, I find this image to be objectifying women through the clothing they wear. They are wearing a form of the original red guard military suit, but it has been adapted for their female body. They are wearing short shorts and high socks to elongate and emphasize their legs. It sexualizes these women unnecessarily and takes away from any empowerment they may hold. I find this sexualization of the female body in such a symbolic uniform a way to

masculinization as well as sexualization: possible indications?

nice structure and work on connotation