Author Topic: Wearing clothing from another culture S/O "Feeling a bit like a prop"  (Read 10043 times)

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jaxsue

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Re: Wearing clothing from another culture S/O "Feeling a bit like a prop"
« Reply #75 on: August 21, 2013, 02:43:18 PM »
I think one benchmark is to look at the clothing item in question and see if the word "exotic" pops into your head. If it does, then maybe you shouldn't wear it because on some level you are characterizing the item as the Other, strange and foreign, and perhaps you like it for that reason*. You (general you) might think, "Well, I don't mean exotic in a bad way!" but trust me, it can be annoying and offensive regardless. People might think they're being complimentary, but speaking as someone who's been on the receiving end of similar "compliments"...no, thanks.

Sort of related - as an Asian girl, a dealbreaker for me where guys are concerned is if he praises my looks as being "exotic." I have way too much experience with non-Asian guys with "yellow fever" and certain phrases are total red flags. I think the same could extend to clothing.

* I've come across white Americans who like taking on other cultures because they're more interesting. According to these people, "We don't have an actual culture the way you do!" Yes, you do, it's just so dominant that it's everywhere around you and you can afford to ignore it because it's the default.

Per the bolded: I am WASP, and I have to laugh when someone says their culture isn't interesting...they are all interesting! It's because they haven't dug deep enough. I find my culture (many cultures, as not all western Europeans are the same) fascinating. Where I live (NJ), I am becoming the minority. So the dominance isn't an issue here.

My nephew is about to get married. His fiance is 100% Chinese-American. I wouldn't call her exotic. She is family.

jaxsue

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Re: Wearing clothing from another culture S/O "Feeling a bit like a prop"
« Reply #76 on: August 21, 2013, 02:51:40 PM »
It has very much to do with the actual clothing itself. For example, Chinese do wear the qipao, or cheongsam, or variations of it for outings. Indians do wear the sari for outings as well. However, the more elaborate versions of the qipao and sari are reserved for special occasions like weddings and formal dinners. So it is like wearing a nice summer dress versus a ball gown or prom dress - you need to know the occasion and the type of dress that you own. Wearing a prom dress to your office is really like wearing a costume, and you would expect people to raise their eyebrows. Wearing an elaborate sari or qipao will get you a lot of giggles and stares from members of that cultural group. And they would probably assume that you're going out for a party.

Btw, qipao and sari are dresses for nice outings, meeting friends etc. If you're planning to go to the grocery store, you don't wear them. They are not the equivalent of jeans and t-shirt.

Now kilts are a different story. I don't think the Scottish wear kilts everyday for normal activities. So if you wear one, I do think you'd draw lots of attention.

You're absolutely right about kilts. In Scotland they're worn for the same types of events that Americans would wear a tuxedo. However, American culture has redefined the kilt into something that can be worn for any occasion from casual to formal.

I have a pair of kilts that get pulled out on a regular basis, but the kilt and accoutrements I select depend on the occasion, but I always get attention when I wear one. ;)

True. My X, the piper, had different things for different events. For more formal there was the Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket, fancier sgian dubh (kilt knife), and horse-hair sporran. The military kit was for less formal events.

jaxsue

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Re: Wearing clothing from another culture S/O "Feeling a bit like a prop"
« Reply #77 on: August 21, 2013, 02:56:30 PM »
another example: how many times are immigrants criticized for wearing clothing from their native land, for not assimilating/blending in...but let the 'right' designer or celebrity appropriate said clothing, it's suddenly acceptable/fashionable....

alo, bravo blahblahblah...another asian american here who has heard the 'where are you REALLY from?' all too often...=/

So sorry you have to deal with that. I have a sister-in-law from Japan, and my nephew is marrying a lovely girl who's Chinese-American next month. I would never assume someone isn't born/raised in the states just because they don't look like I do.

As for native dress, I live where a vast number of immigrants live - newish immigrants. I see saris and other native dress all the time. Doesn't faze me. I find it fascinating.

Amanita

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Re: Wearing clothing from another culture S/O "Feeling a bit like a prop"
« Reply #78 on: August 21, 2013, 05:30:22 PM »
another example: how many times are immigrants criticized for wearing clothing from their native land, for not assimilating/blending in...but let the 'right' designer or celebrity appropriate said clothing, it's suddenly acceptable/fashionable....


I have to agree- that double standard isn't right- shaming somebody of Indian/Chinese/Korean/other descent for wearing their ethnic dress just sucks.
When I see Indian women wearing Sari, I don't think "exotic" or "foreign", I just think "Cool!" Likewise the clothes of other cultures. I feel that if somebody wants to wear their ethnic clothing, they should absolutely feel free to do so without being shamed, whether they're showing ethnic pride, doing it just for comfort, or whatever.

And yes, I get a bit annoyed at the "PC police"- that is, other (usually) white people who take it upon themselves to be the arbiters of what's appropriation, and feel entitled to be incredibly self righteous with anyone who disagrees. Especially when they persist in this stance, even over the wishes of people from the culture that they're "standing up for", when those people say "I'm not offended if somebody wears my outfit/learns to play my music/eats my food/practices my dance or martial art"

Hmmmmm

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Re: Wearing clothing from another culture S/O "Feeling a bit like a prop"
« Reply #79 on: August 21, 2013, 05:52:22 PM »
LadyL & blahblahblah,
Thank you for responding. I really didn't realize that "exotic" could have a negative conotation to individuals who could be on the receiving in.