Kathleen McDermott’s “Personal Space Dress” Guards Against Sexual Harassment On Public Transit


On a subway, personal space is a luxury that you don’t always have. People invade your “bubble,” and while annoying, it can be especially problematic for women. Artist Kathleen McDermott set to even the playing field with her Personal Space Dress, a garment that physically extends the space around a wearer’s body.

This dress is the second in a series titled Urban Armor. It’s a relatively simple concept with technology integrated into its design. When proximity sensors identify that someone’s too close, the sharp plastic scaffolding within the garment causes the hemline to expand outward. Anyone who’s in its area will be ushered away by a patterned-pink skirt.

McDermott got the idea for garment while living in Hong Kong where she’s currently finishing her MFA. Interested in wearable technology, the artist wanted to expand its purposes beyond something that only techies might have. She tells Co.Design, “Taking a photo of your sky diving experience while wearing Google Glass is awesome, but it’s really a small minority of the population that will have this experience. I wanted to explore how wearable technology could impact your physical world, and help the wearers, specifically women, exercise more control over their surroundings.”

While it doesn’t excuse and or solve the problem of sexual harassment on public transportation, it certainly makes a clever point. McDermott plans on making instructions and code for the Personal Space Dress available for download. So, theoretically you could make one of your very own and give yourself some extra breathing room. (Via Co.Design)


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  • M

    This design will be killed before it ever gets released. It makes the wearer look fat. Something that no woman ever wants.

  • A

    It will never be release, it’s a concept, not a merchandise. And thank you by the way for your troll commentary.

  • epl

    I get more space than everyone else. I’m empowered!

  • CPOKashue

    isn’t this just…uh, asking for upskirt shot antics? I mean, not that anyone “ASKS” for that, but well…it’s like someone bending over the edge of a pool with their butt in the air.

  • wtf

    This concept is terrible,
    taking all the space in the subway… if everybody wears such a thing it couldnt be possible to move anywhere….so ridiculous
    people just have to stop harassing girls in the first place, end of the story.

  • SrslyPissedOff

    skirt is too short for this to really be effective. Ladies in India, Tokyo & ALL places where you suffer harassment and groping on public transport – WEAR A RING SPIKED WITH POISON and use liberally.