Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Asian Americans in Fashion

While searching for a topic to write about tonight, I came across this interesting article, "My American Size Doesn't Fit My Asian Clothes." http://www.imdiversity.com/villages/asian/dialogue_opinion_letters/pns_american_size_0605.asp
It's about a Vietnamese woman who feels humiliated after shopping for a pair of pants in a Vietnamese store. According to American sizes, she is a medium, but in Vietnamese sizes, she's an extra-large. She goes on to express how the clothes at the Vietnamese store are meant for juniors, in terms of size and style (many bright colors). These kinds of experience have led her to believe that she is simply not Asian enough. "Small means you are cute and adorable. Small means you are beautiful. Small means you are Asian. We average Asian American female folks ought to be able to shop at clothing stores that reflect our cultures without having to wear the "XL" tag -- if we can find clothes that fit us at all."
I found this interesting because it offers a counter view to all the stereotypes and items of "pop culture" we've studied so far. Asians are generally small and thin, thus Asian clothes are designed to fit for much smaller people. But what about those Asian Americans who still want to reflect their heritage, but physically can't fit into the general stereotype?
Asian American fashion has become increasingly popular in recent times. The Asian fashion trends like "Kawaii" and "Harajuku" seem to really play on and reinforce many Asian stereotypes. These styles emphasize being "cute," a key characteristic of Asian fashion, and are designed to suit young teenagers. Clothes are fitted for ultra-slim body types with wildly eccentric, almost child-like flares. AsiaJam.com explains and gives some tips on how to be kawaii: Don't be afraid to stand out. Wear as many bright colors as possible together, have cute characters on your shirts (like Sanrio or Anime characters), wear ruffles, carry cute plastic and/or fuzzy accessories, style your hair like a manga character, and most importantly, don't wear just a T-shirt and jeans. When I read these tips, I felt like I could find all of these characteristics in the children's department of any store. Another style I briefly read about is gothic lolita, which is designed based on Victorian children's clothing, aiming to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls. "Ganguro" or more recently named "Yamanba" is another more Japanese style that I haven't quite put my finger on. Many followers really look just like scary toy dolls.
Asian skin care and make-up also emphasize maintaining Asians' youthful appearance. Just a brief glance at this website gives overwhelming evidence on maintaining the young "Asian" appearance. http://www.chinatownconnection.com/asian-mainstream-fashion.htm


"Kawaii" "Gothic Lolita" "Ganguro"

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