The Space Between My Peers: Is Ethnicity a Factor in Style?

The Space Between My Peers

From the bottom of the fashion food chain ...

Location: The Great Northwest

I'm a home-schooling, bible-believing SAHM with an annual clothing budget of about $500 American. The Space Between My Peers reveals my secret passion: analysis of the art and science of what to wear.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is Ethnicity a Factor in Style?

This topic has been knocking around in my mind since I read this post at Style Bubble. With over 60 comments at last count, no doubt many of you have already read it and considered it. And with over 60 comments, and me with so many words, I prefer to weigh in over here.

  • First, my view of the whole PC-speak, race designation thing (Chinese vs Oriental vs Asian): Why do any of those have to be offensive?

Now I realize that my racial background is considered majority and so there are things that I may not understand from personal experience, but I have been referred to as both White and Casper. (No one has ever called me European-American, although I suppose that's coming.) Neither designation is strictly accurate as my skin is actually a light muted orange; White is probably meant respectfully, Casper most definitely is not.

  • Second, and this really has nothing to do with the conversation at Style Bubble, I bristle when asked to define myself for statistical purposes as a member of a specific race or ethnicity. In my personal belief system, all humans are of one race: Adamic. What does this mean? It means just that we are all the same kind of being, created with immense value and incapable of being perfect.

  • Third, I'm confident that there are innovative trendsetting fashion personalities of every ethnicity. (Traditional for different cultures would, of course, look different.) My question: is a person more likely to wear a dramatic look or accent if they, by virtue of ethnicity or some other physical reason, look more different or are indeed in a minority?

Please forgive me if I've offended. In my attempt to be as diplomatic as possible, it is still a distinct possibility.


Blogger Jennifer said...

Races with dark hair/skin can carry off more dramatic looks color-wise because of their more dramatic coloring, IMO.

Asians in urban areas dress more trendy/funky. Hong Kong, and Japan, are both very urban so it makes sense that the trends start there. And here in the US, Asians tend to congregate in large cities (LA, SF since I'm on the West Coast) so their dress is more trendy. So maybe it's demographic, not inherent to the racial group.

But it's a great topic to ponder. I'm Chinese but not in a cutting-edge city. If I lived in LA I'd probably be more trendy.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Jennifer, I was so glad to hear from you on this topic.

I agree with you about coloring, I have noticed that idea with some of my Hispanic and Native American acquaintances, although there are still plenty who dress every bit Traditional American. At Style Bubble quite a bit of the discussion centered on figure type (Asians tending to be more slim).

In my community, we have a sizeable Japanese-American population. (Mostly Christians, I think, who came over in the 50s?) Anyway, as a group, they are VERY conservative in their dress. We also get quite a few Japanese students and they are more trendy dressers.

There's never any shortage of interesting things to think about, is there? Even just about getting dressed. :)

3:23 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Yes, older Asians (including my parents) are so practical in all areas, especially dress, so they're not interested in trends! And, I'd agree that the slim figure of most Asians is conducive to trendy clothing designed for stick figures.

There are plenty of young Asians who look ordinary if not down-right nerdy. But I suppose the "glam Asian" is prevalent enough to be a stereotype! I always feel very out of place in Los Angeles. When I'm there, I'm the only one whose hair is her natural color. (and grey, to add insult to injury!)

9:28 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Maybe get one of those mousse-type hair colors (last for a week), or hair mascara (washes right out).

Speaking of gray hair, I was amused this evening to learn that one of my close friends truly thought I colored my hair this color. He hee. I guess I keep up the roots pretty well for somebody who only gets their hair cut every three months.

Not that I mind. :)

10:50 PM  

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