Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blog 4: Japanese Schoolgirl Style

  In the article, Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno by Marcias and Evers looks at the different styles of Japanese schoolgirls and attempts to identify key factors that make up each of the girls outfits, and documents interviews with the girls. First, we have the Takenokozoku girl from 1979, and she wears this almost pajama-like outfit, and carries a boom box and whistle everywhere with her. What I find even more interesting is that, ”Takenokozoku influence appears in the air whenever packs of kids gather to hang out in Harajuku” (Marcias, Evers 30). That even though their style maybe way in the past, it is still very popular among the youth. Then we have the Lady’s, and they sort of remind me of that cool crowd of girls at school, that were so cool and smoked cigs. Sort of like the Pink Lady gang from the musical Grease. Except the Lady’s had purple eye shadow, and rode motorcycles. The Kogal girl is more so of the typical scoolgirl that is seen in manga and anime. They wore the schoolgirl uniform, except the skirts are too short and their socks were so long that it made Sailor Moon girls look stuffy.  The list goes on and on from girls with Jersey Shore tans and Barbie doll like hair to Gothic Lolita girls, which goes to show us the wide variety of styles that Japanese girls participate in. Blogger Danny Choo from writes, “Lucy Pop do everything one would need to transform themselves into a fully fledged school girl” almost to showing that the Japanese schoolgirl is a costume, or a being that people are willing to play dress up, and pretend to be for a Halloween night.



Be Green Update:

  I SURVIVED! (I Will Survive plays in the background) This weekend is what many people know as Black Friday, the biggest weekend dedicated to shopping in high volume at heavily discounted prices.  I do feel a bit terrible that my mom told me to wait in line at Best Buy to get a new digital camera, but it was because the one we have is dead and she wants one so she could take pictures of me for when I walk this December! Almost done with school! While I was at best buy, I could see these hungry techies and families salivating at the awesome deals they could score on TVs, laptops, and whatever else they could get their hands on, sort of disgusting. It makes me feel gross just thinking about how I used to be about sales. O while everyone was grabbing their black Friday steals, I went digging in my closet, and I find an old grey sweatshirt and circle scarf, never worn, and in great condition. Almost done with the challenge, and I’m feeling good.

- Krizia

Self-Exoticizing or Empowering?

Sharon Lin
Blog #4

What does it mean to exoticize oneself? When I think of self-exoticization, I think of people of minorities in work that utilizes or sells one's body, for example, models. I never would have imagined that national dress could be mixed into self-exoticizing.
            In Ann Marie Leshkowich’s article, “The Ao Dai Goes Global: How International Influences and Female Entrepreneurs Have Shaped Vietnam’s National Costume,” she writes about the process that often must occur for national costume to be accepted and popularized in Third World countries. She take the example of the ao dai and its re-popularization after it won the prize for “Best National Costume” in the Miss International Pageant. Leshkowich argues that oftentimes, national costume is another place of Western influence and Western imperialism. The perception of a national costume is where “a domestic context in which national identity, images of traditional femininity, the lure of international power, and the simultaneous desire for “local” authenticity and modern cosmopolitanism mingle” (Niessen, Leshkowich, Jones 86). In the case of the ao dai, it became popular after the Miss International Pageant because “young, urben Vietnamese women and the media [saw] and newly [appreciated] the ao dai as outsiders might” (Niessen, Leshkowich, Jones 86). The process of seeing the national costume through an outsider’s eyes and deeming it worthy because of an outsider’s approval is the process of “self-exocitization.”
            I argue, however, that self-exocitization does not only happen in the Third World. When we look around at the fashion and consumer culture in America, there have been many times in the past where Asian national costumes were popularized by the West and then accepted not only in the West, but also all around the world. The national costume most popularly exoticized in the West is the kimono. In a recent controversy with Victoria’s Secret’s “Go East” lingerie collection, it is evident that the national costumes of Asia are still exoticized. One blogger, Nina Jacinto notes, “When a company takes it one step further by developing a story about how the clothes can offer a sort of escape using explicit sexualized and exploitive language, it takes the whole thing to another level. It’s a troubling attempt to sidestep authentic representation and humanization of a culture and opt instead for racialized fetishizing against Asian women.” In Japan, the kimono is worn with pride. After an interview with an Asian American designer for my paper, I was forced to question whether or not this pride comes from within the Japanese culture and valuing the beauty of the kimono and whether or not the Western acceptance of the kimono has any influence on the pride that is in wearing a kimono. Victoria's Secret was not the first to use the kimono in modern fashion and it most certainly will not be the last. 
One question that I feel is neglected in Leshkowich and Jacinto’s arguments, however, is whether or not donning our national costumes is truly “self-exoticizing” or can merely be empowering? When Asian Americans wear a kimono, to them, it may not symbolize exoticization, but rather, grace, elegance and beauty that is embedded in the Japanese culture. Who can say what the person wearing a kimono feels and where from their feelings are derived?

Inside source: Niessen, S. A., Ann Marie. Leshkowich, and Carla Jones. "The Ao Dai Goes Global: How International Influences and Female Entrepreneurs Have Shaped Vietnam’s National Costume." Re-orienting Fashion: The Globalization of Asian Dress. Oxford: Berg, 2003. N. pag. Print.
Outside Source: Jacinto, Nina. "Victoria’s Secret Does It Again: When Racism Meets Fashion." Web log post. Racialicious. Latoya Peterson, 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.

Be Green Challenge Update
This past weekend was the biggest challenge. I was determined to beat the challenge and not buy anything this Black Friday. I thought it would be easier than it was, and in the end, I unfortunately caved to the temptation of sales. In my defense, however, I only bought things that were on sale and at the, I only bought 2 items that were solely for myself. 
My downfall was gradual. Every year my friends and I go Black Friday shopping together. We go the morning of to salvage whatever is left of Black Friday because, well, we simply just value our sleep during break too much to go any earlier. This year, my friend asked me to accompany her because our other friend was busy. I gave her the disclaimer that I could not purchase anything for myself, but that I would go with her. I was fully committed to upholding the challenge. When I got home, however, I discovered that my sister, in her procrastination had not yet finished her college applications and would not be able to go Black Friday shopping this year. She asked me to shop for her while I was with my friend. My resolve began to crumble. The opportunity was simply to good to turn down. Since my sister is about the same size as I am, I knew I could buy clothes that I would like but just have her have it until November was over. I had found the loophole! It would be like shopping for myself except I would not actually be buying anything for myself. As one can imagine, this loophole was merely a slippery slope into buying things for solely for myself. 
The day of Black Friday, I started off determined. I bought only things I thought my sister would like. Then we hit H&M and I bought things I thought my mother would enjoy. It was at Forever 21 that things took a turn for the worse. (That darn Forever 21!!) The regular sale did not much tempt me. 30% off sweaters was a nice discount...but not nice enough for me to really consider it. What hit me the hardest was the additional 50% off sale items. Some pieces were only 2 or 3 dollars! I couldn't resist. (I know, I sound like a ridiculous shopaholic…) At the end of the day I came away with two pieces solely for myself. 
I am fairly disappointed that I wasn't able to last the entirety of November without purchasing something. I like to think, however, that had it been any other month, I would have cruised through the challenge. Maybe I'll try the challenge on my own sometime (in a month other than November and/or December) and see how well I fare. I think I could succeed if it were any other month. 

The Power of Consumerism

Mai Moua Vang
Blog #4

Inside source:
Parminder Bhachu. "It's Hip to be Asian."

In this week's reading, people from the U.K., white and Indian people, commodified the Indian culture and how it is seen through the eyes of globalism. While I was reading this piece, I thought about the film we watched in class. I don't remember the name of the film, but it was about Hispanic people in Los Angeles pasting Aztec symbols onto shirts and selling them to mainly white people from the U.S. and several European countries (and some Asian countries as well). Since there are so many diasporas located around the world, especially in big fashion-driven cities, it is very appealing to sell to people things that are different and exotic. The author, Bhachu, points out that the consumers are middle-class, regardless if they are white and Indian. Since many of the salwaar-kameezes, or traditional garments worn by Indian people, are authentically made by Indian people, it shows how much power the Indian diaspora in the U.K. has because they are the ones who are determining what is in fashion in the U.K. and those in India make what British people (affluent white and Indians) demand for. 

Outside Source:

In the Internet world, Black Friday, November 23, is the highest profiting day in the year. It rose 26% from last year ($1.04 billion this year from $816), also breaking the billion dollar mark. The top five companies (in order) that profited from that day is Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and Apple. 

I thought that it was interesting how Walmart employees are on a national strike, yet they are were the second highest profiter of Black Friday--how do people and those who bought stuff there feel about this? Walmart employees are on a strike! They are people just like you!?  I just don't know how to feel about this. This speaks loudly the strength of consumerism and it makes me quite sad. Humanity, what's wrong with you?!

Update on the compact challenge:

The challenge is going ok. This weekend was Hmong New Years in Sacramento and I really wanted to buy some Hmong-inspired clothing from the vendors, but since this challenge is still happening, I just have to wait until the New Years in Fresno. It's not that long of a wait since it's during Christmas break. I'm still spending money but all of it goes to food. I'm running low on my foundation and it's a shade that doesn't match my skin tone so I don't feel that great wearing it in public. The expiration is coming soon too and I hate wearing bacteria-infested products on my face. So glad this challenge is ending soon!

I didn't go to Black Friday but it had me thinking about all the laborers from developing countries. They must hate and love this time of the year since they have to work A LOT to meet the extra demand from the holiday season. I hope they get to buy nice things for their families too. 


Danny Liemthongsamout
Entry # 4

As I age I've noticed everyone around me accepts what we are.  We realize our gold teeth and clothing will never be accepted.  People dress urban as a fashion trend when they never came from urban communities.  As I pass as a normal person, my life and who I am will never be able to pass.  Kawamura states," Fashion in a postmodern times emerges out of youth culture and is then commercialized by the industry to reach a wider audience to spread it as a 'fashion'." (799)  Stick up boy clothing is imitated in fashion but few remember it's origins and meaning.  Many people represent their communities but aren't actively involved in the underground and movement of their communities.  I guess I pass now because there is no reason to prove what I am.  It isn't the clothing, but if people knew who I am, how I live, and the community I come from, they tend to judge.  It's game recognize game.  People forget hip hop fashion comes from real live youth cultures.  It is something for a culture to evolve influenced from the philosophy and legacy of other cultures, but I feel there is a sense of cultural appropriation in Japanese clothing.  The aesthetics of clothing becomes more important than the meaning.  Losing the meaning of patterns in Lao traditional clothing creates fashion with a fragmented connection to it's own history, influence, and purpose.

I don't know why, but lately I fell a sorrow when I see hip hop fashion.  I see a different kind of beauty connected to my memories.  I remember violence, robberies, and cars.  I remember days in the hospital and the smell of gasoline.  People don't realized the base of the clothing in my community is poverty.  Poverty and it's consequences permeate into all aspects of our lives.  It's a life of survival and I carry stories and wisdom of people who didn't make it.  Watching "My True Friend", it reminds me how putting on clothes reminds me of people.  It reminds me of a time in my life.  Maybe this is how my elders feel seeing traditional clothes.  It reminds them of another time and many people who never made it.  I actually feel emotions.  I feel sorrow, sadness, happiness, joy, loneliness, and comfortable at the same time.  "Sabai Sabai" is to be at peace.  Peace isn't forgetting pain or embracing happiness.  Peace is fully feeling sorrow and happiness.  I guess the sorrow I feel putting on clothes in the morning makes me smile.  Lao people never cry at funerals, because we do not hold on to death but to the beauty of peoples' lives. 

Update on Be Green Challenge:
I lost count on how many cigarettes I smoke.  What am I coping with?  I look at my life and know but it's so much to confront.  There is something wrong.  There are things wrong in this world, because I know in my heart the way the world is and the way I live shouldn't be considered normal.  I've never worried about life or a career.  I know I'll struggle and sacrifice.  Will I sacrifice my body to labor?  Will I sacrifice my mind to academia?  Will I sacrifice my heart to the streets?  My life has always been hard and I know it will not get easier.  It's stressful to go from hugging our son and then aiming a gun at people.  It is a life with too much emotions.  It is a life with too much struggle.  It's the only life I have and my community has.  I never thought I would care less about clothing as I aged.

Kawamura, Yuniya. "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion." Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. .
My True Friend. Atsajun Sattakovit. NA. 2012. Film. <>

Black Friday

Racheal Rhee

Reader Source: Yuniya Kawamura. "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion." Reader

       Fashion. This word becomes an idea and term that draws people into culture and places. When does fashion exactly begin? In the reader source, Kawamura states that Street Fashion specifically began with Japanese Teens. It began as symbolic group identity where group of girls dress and wear makeup in a similar way which became shared symbols of membership affiliation. The best point about street fashion's creation, was that it was expressed in however the teens wanted to present themselves. Whether the look was exotic, cute or eccentric, they wanted to be visibly seen different from society, yet wanted to be seen as part of a group. At this case, we can state that street fashion came from teen rebels which later became part of Tokyo culture to have teens in streets showing off individual's or community's fashion to each other and to the world.  This was a cultural change and a turning point for fashion industry not only in positive, but also in a negative way. Presenting the world with newly discovered Street Fashion industry brought Japan to another level of showing their existence in world fashion industry. However, the professional fashion industry within Japan was flipped upside down. Consumers became the one who leads the trend as fashion designers had to chase after their creative clothing updates. In other words, consumers are the ones who became the gatekeepers of fashion industry. To fight consumerism, we are able to adapt this street fashion idea into our society. Instead of having the gatekeepers (which are Big Fashion industry magazines and journalists), if people in community and society looked into their own meaning of clothing instead of continuously heading towards the general idea of fashion where skinny models wear double zero size while managing to wear 4 inch heels adding onto their original average model height (5ft 8in), we would be able to fold our thoughts of wanting to (or feeling the need to) consume what the mannequin wears, or what the journalist think the best outfit is.

Outside Source: Personal experience of Black Friday in San Francisco Downtown outlet/mall

        Black Friday!! Yes. I have never been to black friday shopping, so was very excited to travel the outdoor, especially urban area although my intentions were to only eye shop. After first three weeks of fighting consumerism, the idea of black friday became a joke. When I decided to take a visit to the apple store to check out how the mini ipad looks like, people were standing in a line outside of the door waiting in the cold at 4 am. Yes, the mini ipad was in fact pretty cute looking and definitely lighter than ipad. However, what really shocked me was that people were walking into the store looking for sale items (ipad and iphone) that offered 46 dollars off of the original price $499. Consuming an ipad for $433 with 10% off discount when ipad is a luxury, not a necessity?

Blog #4

Hue Thao
Entry #4: ASA141

It is the weekend of Thanksgiving! This is the holiday where we take a small gap of our time to come together and remind ourselves, what we are thankful for. I want to take this time to simply talk about the things I am thankful for. To put it simply, i'm thankful for LIFE. The "L" represents the lifetime that I was born and raise, from the time I learned to crawl to the time I can learn to live. "I" represents my individuality, where I have made an impact of the life that was given to me, and I will continue to fight for a better future. "F" is for my Family and Friends. No matter what happens in life or no matter how difficult life becomes, NO one person can stand alone by him or her self. Therefore, I am thankful to have my family and to have the friends that have struggled through life with me. Last, but not least, "E" represents everything that this world has to offer. Each day I here people complain about such little things in life and see that everything they have is taken for granted. People complain about how they have to go to class and run a mile for their physical education class. People complain about how they can't do this or that...saying things like "F*CK MY LIFE." They think they have it all bad and that the world is against them. Well, it's about time I give my rants. STOP complaining about such minor details like running a mile. GUESS WHAT? There are people in this world that would KILL to be able to even get up and run because they are suffering from some sort of disease. STOP saying F*CK MY LIFE! It's redundant and pisses people off when they know your life is not even that bad. In fact, people are so fortunate with what they have, but don't see it. People, even me, need to open their eyes and realize that LIFE, is not bad. It can be a lot worse...There is so much more that can be stated, but just in case of safety reasons, I will stop here. With that, I just wanted to say, STOP taking LIFE for granted. Even the small little things in life, just STOP. If your teacher wants you to go run a mile then so be it. If you are physically capable of doing it then DO IT! Instead of saying, "f*ck, I have to run a mile," say "yes, I can run a mile, and I will even run a few more laps for those who are not physically capable of running." One of my most inspirational speaker is Dr. Leo Buscaglia and he can further add to my idea. (I will put one of his speech on this page in hopes people will read it). Those small little problems, don't complain and be positive! Live LIFE to its fullest!

To get back on track, this week I have spent quite a lot of money. Food is always draining my money. xD Other than that, I went to Best Buy for Black Friday. Sadly my front tire popped and then I felt that it was a sign telling me to go home. Therefore, I luckily asked one of the person who was thinking about going to stand in line outside Best Buy. He was just a stranger, but luckily for me, he works for a tire shop! You got to admit, of all the odds, this was pretty cool. He quickly helped me install my spare tire, and then I went on home safe and sound. I am thankful for his help. On that note, sorry Valverde, but I had no choice but to spend some money for another tire. :( I failed the be green challenge, but a tire is needed for me to get back to Davis. That was my confession of buying something. Other than that, we went to the Hmong New Year at Sacramento Cal Expo. It was a good turn out and we participated in the parade which was fun. Yes, it cost a few bucks to get in...actually I had two free tickets so I didn't spend any money. I did however, spend some cash on the food. I just can't help buying the food, plus it was helping out a friend of mines since it was her family's booth. All in all, I think I did a pretty decent job at not buying anything or being a consumer until my tires popped. I will continue the challenge, but just know that I did loose. That's all. Thanks!

Here is the link to one of Dr. Leo Buscaglia's speech. It's on youtube so you can continue watching the other parts if you are interested, but here is the part 1 of 4.

Don't Give Me A Title

Blog #4

Like hip hop culture, Japanese street fashion embodies the trickle-up theory, a more modern approach to the traditional trickle-down theory of fashion.  There’s a certain allure to creating your own style, and from demure to garish, Japanese high school girls were the pioneers from hime gyaru to hardcore ganguro (Kawamura, "Japanese Teens as Fashion Producers of Street Fashion").  EGG magazine, one of the most influential gatekeepers of the youthful Japanese culture, pulls out all of the things inspired by the street – the brown/blonde hair, the magical false lower lashes, the cutesy to edgy clothing inspirations.  

What I’m interested in, however, was the origin of the ganguro style.  What in the world?  It sticks out like a sore thumb from the typical princess-y gyaru, which - as is typical of Asian ideals - values pale skin.  However, the Ganguro movement strives to darken skin tone to the point where African-Americans start quirking eyebrows.  It’s a fashion, for sure – but where do its origins come from?

Here’s a theory:  Hip hop culture.  Hm.  Interestingly enough, two of the few distinctive movements that defy traditional fashion theory is related to each other.  There is indeed a correlation between Ganguro – which translates literally to “Black Face” – and black youth culture after all.  “Ganguro reflects the global influences of hip-hop culture, commercialism, and the exploration of African-American culture as a fetish (Liu)”.  To be honest, I wouldn’t have made that conclusion by myself – I thought Ganguro was more of a cry of “I’m an individual!” in this big world.  In my longstanding belief, the objective of those who adopt this rather intriguing fashion is not to imitate black culture, but also to express individuality and go for what hip-hop was aiming to address - the displacement of the individual.  Ganguro is far away from the mainstream, and the extremely tanned skin is shock value to the rest of Japanese society.  It’s a form of expression.

Fashion is not just for the goal of aesthetics.  It’s also there to make a statement, and to define the self.  Now, this thought make me happy – ganguro girls may be looked down upon as ruffians, but all they want to do is escape the strict confines of society, just like me – and I’m sure many others agree as well.  They just found an outlet for their frustrations, and that is through the statement fashions and dark skin.  They’re brave.  I have a chicken heart – I would never dare to do such a thing, but I do applaud their boldness.

Be Green Challenge Update:

I’m guilty.  Evil.  Guilty.  I didn’t realize exactly how powerful the influence of family can be in buying things.  I will justify everything I had done from Thursday, 6PM to Friday, 2PM as ‘serving the greater good’.  I was helping out my family.  I was helping them buy things, because I was another person who could help hold a place in line, as well as swipe a credit card.  Granted, I didn’t buy anything for myself, but my mother did buy me a ten dollar sweater (much to my protests, I assure you).  Black Friday was ridiculous, by the way.  All I had to do to rile up tension was for me to point at a much-desired item fresh out of stock (in this case, a wee vacuum cleaner) that was currently housed in some guy's cart.  That was all it took for him to hurry over, SHIELD THE MERCHANDISE WITH HIS BODY and bare his teeth into something that I definitely knew wasn't a friendly smile. Ridiculous.  Consumerism, you create animals.

One thing that I was forced to think about while I stood in the snaking lines was how old all of the severely price-slashed merchandise was.  Black Friday seemed to be a way for stores to clear out old inventory and introduce new things for consumers to slobber about all over again.  Consumerism goes hand in hand with innovation.  Innovation indicates societal progression, and societal progression can't just halt in its tracks.  What a hard cycle to break.

Till next time,

Jing Mai

Outside Sources:
Liu, Xuexin.  “The Hip-Hop Impact on Japanese Youth Culture”.  Southeast Conference of the Association of Asian American Studies. 2005. Web.

Inside Sources: 
Kawamura, Yuniwa.  “Japanese Teens As Fashion Producers of Street Fashion”. Reader.
Kawamura, Yuniwa. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. Oxford: Berg, 2006. 18. Print.


Danny Liemthongsamout
Entry #3
I knew in my heart something was different about me when I started first grade. I don’t remember kindergarten, because I went to school in my neighborhood in Sacramento. My life is complicated, but basically my mother remarried when I was 5. We relocated to Tupelo, Mississippi. I spent alternating years in Sacramento and Tupelo. My first day of 1st grade, I wore Jordans and didn’t know the alphabet. When I knew the answer I rarely raised my hand, because I knew every answer. I wanted to give the other kids a chance to talk. Every teacher thought I was a mute and tutored me for five hours after school. Race relations was strange, because no one in my school knew what Lao was. They didn’t know how we are born of the land and are reflections of the land. I didn’t understand why my classmates didn’t share food like me. My mother is a survivor and she taught me to fight back no matter the circumstances. Everyone was appalled at school when I beat up girls or boys. I also ate flowers and fruits I found.
I’d look at pizza restaurant workers talk to my grandpa and I wonder if they see what I see. I wonder if they can see how many people my grandfather killed. Do they realize they are talking to an orphan, head monk, and general in one? My grandfather rejected tradition and modern society, because he was a child of the jungle and a child of the slums. I never realized the silence in his life until I grew older. People cannot even imagine how his life was like due to it being different from anything written or orally recorded. I felt this silence more and more in my own life as I aged.
Lao means human. I was raised Lao. I was raised to think for myself and question tradition and modern society. I realized I belonged to a half in my community who consider themselves Lao In America. We choose to do good without even pondering if it goes against traditional rules or U.S. laws. With good reason I will never have to struggle with my own actions. We do not have hope in our culture.  We do not hope, because we believe in action.  Hope doesn’t work towards a goal.  I’ve never had hope in my life.  I’ve stayed committed.
My life as a Southeast Asian male is common, but others are unable to imagine what it is like. I’m in the life at the same time in the context of Lao culture.  Lao people are of the land.  I was born in a land of concrete and asphalt.  One thing I can speak of is the traditional clothes.
When I was young before I grew into what I am, I remember visiting the temple every Sunday.  The temple for us isn’t about religion.  We welcome all peoples and cultures to worship and come to our temple.  It is more of a community center.  We would pray all day and also run around outside.  We played with water and watched traditional plays.  We learned to play traditional instruments and dance. Sometimes we became monks at the request of our families.  The younger generations usually wear street clothes.  A majority wear traditional clothes though.  A need item is a embroidered sash.  Women usually wear shirts now, but some choose to wear bigger sashes horizontal across their chests.  Women usually wear an embroidered skirt called a sinh.  Males wear a sinh of shiny silk of one piece.  It goes around a person one time then is straightened then twisted and pulled between the legs.  It is held by a belt and accompanied by a french formal collared shirt.  A more country item is a pah sa long.  Pah sa longs are similar to female sinhs as one sheet stitched to a circle and folded to the body.  It lacks embroidery and consists of simple patterns.  At funerals, some men are cremated with their sinhs covering the coffin.
The production of our cultural clothing is different than the Ao Dai.  As a community, we mostly never return to Laos.  We do not keep in contact with the culture or our families in Laos.  Truthfully, I believe it is due to our poverty.  Our traditional clothes is acquired from peddlers who can afford to go to Laos and buy clothing.  Many times items are custom made or produced by seamstresses in the garage of their homes.  My grandma use to make clothing until she had arthritis.  Leshkowich states, “So much of the ao dai’s cultural currency steams from its aura of supposed indigenous authenticity that too much discussion of the impact of foreign ideas, or even overseas Vietnamese tastes, might contaminate the article and threaten tailor’s and stallholder’s positions as its purveyors.” (105) Lao people are “sabai sabai”.  It means a sense of peace and calmness.  Most of the elders say it is the reason we are not ambitious.  We are already at peace with everything in our lives.  It reminds us we are humans first and everything is auxillary.  My grandma says her creations weren’t about the money.  It was art to her.  With this ideal, I feel our sense of culture and tradition is rarely questioned.  No one can tell us what is and what is not except ourselves.  
Childhood friends turned into killers is what I see looking at traditional clothes.  Two friends who I watched grow up in high school.  Eating pho and playing at the park at a young age.  They went in for a few years friday.  A few have warrants and will eventually go in.  Sometimes I think of our youth at the temple.  I think of fishing at a young age.  We will have our children wear traditional clothes.  We will teach them from our rights and our wrongs.  They will achieve in college.  Our parents could only teach us to survive.  We were never destined for college or a normal life, but maybe one day we can teach our children with our experience.  Traditional clothing holds a place in the hearts of my generation.  We still wear our pah sah longs even with stares at Walgreens for wearing a skirt.
Update on Compact Challenge:
I’ve been saving money not shopping at stores. Getting gas from a Quick Market. I broke and bought 3 packs of cigarettes this week.  I’ve smoked a cigarrette every 30 minutes.  It’s just the life in my community.  I’m coping with something, but I don’t know what it is.  There is so many things wrong in my past and present that I could go on for hours.
I remember watching Baby and it reminded me it was never what I wore.  It was who I was and how I carried myself.  Anyone can wear anything as long as they’re respected.  The fashion of my community is an expression connected to the nature and the lives of the people of this land.  It transcends only one community and is connected to the people who previously inhabited this area and those who inhabit surrounding areas.  I’m trying to survive, so I haven’t thought about fashion as much.  I think that’s how my parents feel also.  Baby constantly changes his clothing and hair but it isn't what preoccupies his days.
Works Cited:
Baby. Juwan Chung. Lionsgate. 2008. Film
Niessen, S. A., Ann Marie. Leshkowich, and Carla Jones. Re-orienting Fashion: The Globalization of Asian Dress. Oxford: Berg, 2003. Print. 105.

Blog 4

Natsumi Moudry
Blog 4
Inside source: Leshkowich, Anne Marie. "The Ao Dai Goes Global: How International Influences and Female Entrepreneurs Have Shaped Vietnam's ." Trans. Array Re-Orienting Fashion: The Globalization of Asian Dress. Sandra Niessen, Ann Marie Leshkowich and Carla Jones. New York: Berg, 2003. 70-115. Print.
Outside source: Schwebius, Christopher. "Is Modern Japanese Clothing More Western?." Ezine Articles . Ezine Articles, 31 2008. Web. 25 Nov 2012. .

Miss Vietnam, Truong Quynh Mai, was awarded “Best National Costume” in the 1995 Miss International Pageant in Tokyo (Leshkowich, 79). This reflects how the Ao Dai is accepted by many people around the world. Many fashion designers around the world has viewed Ao Dai, made their own style of Ao Dai and included it in their fashion shows. In class we were shown a black pin striped Ao Dai. The Ao Dai is also considered to have hybrid aspects because the Ao Dai has been varied by influences from France, China and the US (Leshkowich, 79). The Ao Dai is worn by a variety of people in Vietnam; brides, performers, models, and those on special occasions wear formal Ao Dai with the hat. High school students, civil servants, tour guides, hotel and restaurant workers wear Ao Dai typically without the hat.

In Japan, kimono is the traditional style of dress; for warm weather the yukata is usually worn. The kimono is worn by brides (with a head piece), people for special occasions, hotel workers (usually bath house hotel workers), those who have arranged marriage meetings, some who go to the shrine on New Year’s day, some who go to funerals (black kimono), those who make tea for tea ceremonies, etc. Girls in Japan who turn twenty also wear a kimono for a day (for Seijin shiki) and take a formal picture, depending on their economic status. The elderly who have stayed with traditional ways also still wear the kimono on a regular basis; these people are usually over 90 years of age. The yukata is usually worn for occasions in warm weather such as obon, omatsuri, firework festivals, etc. When I went to a concert in Japan, I saw some women wearing the yukata shortened to show a lacy skirt underneath. Many youth embellish the kimono/ yukata to look different and start new trends.

The kimono/ yukata is considered very feminine like the Ao Dai. Usually women, when they wear kimono, they put their hair up. When the back of the neck is shown, it is considered "sexy" in Japan. Also, because the kimono is tightly worn, women can only take little steps; they cannot move recklessly. Women are made to have good stature and slow movements when wearing the kimono. Many youth in Japan like to wear yukata on days like omatsuri because it is a special day that it is accepted to look different; on a daily basis Japanese wear western clothes. Youth try to look more attractive and different for their partner on days of firework festivals and omatsuri.

Update on the challenge:
I am surprised to say that I actually did not buy anything from the Black Friday sale this weekend. Although right now I really want to buy a new set of head phones since I can only hear from one side of the headphones I have right now, I did not get new headphones. This Black Friday I worked at my seasonal job back home, and I was too tired to keep up with others in their Black Friday shopping. The parking lot of the mall I worked at was too crowded so I wanted to go home to rest after working an 8 hour shift. After work I did not want to see the mall again this weekend because there were too many people. I just spent the rest of the weekend grocery shopping, studying for my midterm, and spending time with my parents. 

Ao Dai: A Timeless and Powerful Dress

Steve (Shing) Li Blog #3

The Ao Dai is a beautiful and elegant traditional dress from Vietnam. It originated from the imitation of the Chinese long dress and ever since it has changed a lot since the beginning of the Ao Dai. Owning an Ao Dai is like a passage of age for young Vietnamese women because of its elegance and beauty that highlights the women's body by having a custom made fit. As a result, many western fashion designers have taken notice of the Ao Dai and imitated it in their own fashion shows and clothing design. Every Vietnamese women owns an Ao Dai not only because of its beauty but also because is a timeless piece that can be wore at any time and also pass down to younger generations.

Be Green Challenge: This week I have been very good avoiding retail stores because I have been very busy with school work. The only things that I have spend money on is on groceries which are costing me around $50 a week which is very expensive! I need to start to learn budgetting. I cant imagine how much money I would be spending if I was not in this challenge and spending my money on things that I dont need on tops of food.

Inside Source: Kieu Linh Caroline Valverde. "Ao Dai Revival." Ao Dai: A Modern Design Coming of Age Exhibit Catalogue.

Outside Source: Elmore, Mick. "Ao Dai Enjoys A Renaissance Among Women : In Vietnam, A Return to Femininity." New York Times, 17 Nov. 1997. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. .

Blog #4 Japanese Black Face "Kogal"

Steve (Shing) Li Blog #4

The Japanese Black Face phenomenon which is also known as kogal or mamba which is the extreme version is a Japanese fashion girls that involves high school teenage girls who wear short skirt school uniforms and have a deep tan, bright make up and bleached blonde hair. This fashion trend is a clear example of how gate keepers today is shifting from trained fashion professionals on top to the everyday consumer, in this case young high school teenage girls who wanted to stand out in Japan and did it by having a deep tan and bright makeup. This trend is so popular in Japan that the girl in the article even stated that if she did not wear a deep tan and bright make up she would not look normal in school.

I can see how this trend became so popular in Japan because of its strict culture and oppressed were every one in society is supposed to dress a certain way and follow a traditional customs. Individuals do not have many outlets to think creatively or express themselves. As a result, high teenage girls began this fashion trend in order to stand out in a normally pale, light skinned society by wearing dark fake tans and blonde hair to feel different and individualistic.

Green Challenge: I cant believe is already week 4 of the green challenge. This has been the hardest week of this challenge because of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I admit that I gave in and stood in line for an hour at target before finally going inside the store to buy electronics. Going target I saw a big change from 3 years ago when I first went to Black Friday shopping on how well they handled the crowd. After all the accidents and even death I'm glad stores are taking pre cautions to keep the shoppers and employees save. On another note I am keeping up with the news of strike Walmart from employees at Walmart, protesting on Black Friday weekend. After watching the movie with the Forever 21 workers I have a very different outlook on the high price for the low cost of goods and keep the workers in my mind. As a result, I have been encouraging my friends not to shop at Walmart until they reach an agreement with the workers.

I'm hoping to do better after this week and really finish this challenge strong by not buying any clothing or electronics.

Inside Source:Yunica Kawamura. "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion." Reader..

Outside Source: "Kogal." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.