Cultural Appropriation on the Runway


  Image Credit: Unsplash

 Image Credit: Unsplash

There is a lot of inappropriate behavior with Asians and their “stereotypes”. At my school one day, the dean was reading out a list of possible classes you could take. She was mentioning that one of the languages you can take was Chinese and immediately I heard “ching chong” from the people by me, and I heard other people laugh. Yet when I asked around of what language people were going to chose as an elective, I didn’t hear one person say Chinese. Instead of making fun of a person’s race, why don’t we just not say anything? Still, racism has been going on for centuries.. This is an issue not just for Chinese people, but for other Asians as well.

Just last month was a problem with Versace, a prominent luxury fashion house and their new boxer shorts. In their runway, they presented their new boxer shorts and many people called this cultural appropriation, because they drew the idea from Thailand, where the shorts are known as Muay Thai shorts. Muay Thai is also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs”. In my opinion, this is cultural appropriation because this is someone else’s culture and especially since this is a national Thai sport, it is dear to many people’s heart. People get upset when other people don’t give credit (so, appropriate culture) because they are taking aspects of the original art (Muay Thai) to the more popular brand (Versace). I knew of the fashion brand but had no idea about Muay Thai. How are people suppose to learn more about the Thai cultural if they are not credited to the source? People won’t know someone else’s culture because they will never know that it is someone else’s culture, to begin with. They will think of it as only Versace shorts- nothing more. They could have learned about Muay Thai or want to get involved in Muay Thai. The difference of crediting the origin means a lot to the culture and the people. It would have been acceptable to have the credit of the source from which you got inspiration from or to shine some light on the culture. When Versace presented their shorts on the runway beforehand they could have announced that it was inspired by Muay Thai, which then would allow more people to understand and accept the Versace boxer shorts better. There could also be a Thailand flag on the tag of the boxers to show that they acknowledge the art of Muay Thai.

This is only one of the many occurrences in which cultural appropriation is featured in fashion. Versace is not the only company that has been called out for their products or showing something that is not from their culture.

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

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