chapter  4
25 Pages

Ambiguous Images: Relating ‘Mixed-Race’ Selves to Others

BySuki Ali

'Mixed-race' children articulate their ideas of what constitutes sexual desirability in others and the importance of a form of reflexive embodiment to acceptability. The children show acute but only partially expressed concern about 'attractiveness', which is about style but also incorporates notions of class and sexuality, though not always explicitly 'race'. The children show that their awareness of their embodied positionality has value judgements attached to it which play a part in where they 'fit' in their social networks at school and outside. Children are engaged in making sense of their world in everyday through what Paul Willis calls 'symbolic work' showing considerable symbolic creativity. Children's readings of the 'stars' drew on physical appearance to assess sexual orientation. The children often made decisions about who looked 'nice, 'good' or 'stylish' based upon some perceived notion of 'decency'.