Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ao Dai, gender equality

Every Lunar new years, before college, me and my family and friends would go to the Tet festival to enjoy the festivities. One of the main attractions is Ms. Vietnam pageant. After reading Professor Valverde's "Ao Dai revival" article and browsing this year's SDTet's Ms. Vietnam contestants I'm suddenly struck by something new; this year's SDTet includes a Mr. Vietnam. Something I never noticed.

I found this interesting because Professor's Valverde's article discusses how the Ao Dai's revival has become a very symbolic icon for Vietnamese women. But where is the Vietnamese counterpart for Vietnamese men? Perplexed by this question I decided to pay attention to what Mr.Vietnam is wearing. Right off the back, I noticed that there were much less contestants than Ms. Vietnam. I found it even more interesting that Mr.Vietnam contestants all wore dress shirts instead of something traditional like an Ao Dai. I guess it's silly to expect Mr.Vietnam to wear an Ao Dai because it has become so feminized and iconic for Vietnamese women, that a man wearing it would make him appear less masculine. So then this situation begs the question why isn't there something traditional for Vietnamese men?

In the reviving of the Ao Dai, how come it has leaned more towards a feminine piece of clothing, and not gender neutral like it was? I ask this, because during my Paris by Night study session with my research group, I noticed a lot of the male backup dancers and singers wearing Ao Dai and it really was not so feminine at all. I think the reviving of the Ao Dai is great, but why not construct two distinct versions for each gender?

Look how cool President Bush looks in one!

An update on the compact challenge, I'm doing great still. But I'll probably have some problems this tet weekend, when we're in SF and wandering the city.

Post # 6
Hoa Truong

Outside source :
Inside source: Valverde, Kieu Linh Caroline Ed. 2006. Ao Dai: A Modern Design Coming of Age. San Jose: Association for Viet Arts and San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

Pictures from SDtet and

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