ISSN : 2266-6060

Personal chattels

Paris, august 2011.

I entered this shop and began to look at several articles displayed on merchandisers. I carefully chose a suitable time slot : there was no crowd. So, it was possible to take time to glean and to try different clothes without any kind of waiting, nor any stress. After having chosen several articles, I went to a fitting room. A common situation to try a trouser and, face to the mirror, to estimate the way it fits with the personal identity I elaborate. Yet, it was another concern that arose when I entered the fitting room.
Faced with this poster, the scriptopolian is literally staggered. By asking customers “to leave nothing in the fitting room”, the inscription calls for a moral consideration for the following. Nothing really new. By contrast, the list of items is much more surprising. When they are in the fitting room, the articles share a state of uncertainty : they are almost not part of the shop anymore, though not yet the property of the customer. But what are “tags” doing here ? They are virtually part of this set of objects attached to the self, such an “identity kit” defined by Goffman. And, as any other kind of personal chattel, that one judges essential to carry in any circumstances, they necessary have to leave the fitting room.