Monday, November 2, 2009

After Purchasing a Winter Coat for Malachi, I thought about some things...

Yesterday we winterized Malachi's wardrobe.

We folded ourselves into tiny children boutiques that are - ostensibly - where people buy children's clothes here. Most boutiques have two or three pricey, plush, often plaid outfits that are patly impractical and also whimsically androgynous. And not warm. We eventually entered a sort of outlet store, or a place that said "sale!" in English (though, there wasn't actually a sale. The key in Korea is often to merely use English; not to use English in a way that means anything in particular)

So, I was browsing the racks of this non-sale-outlet-type place when I found some unwarm long-sleeved shirts for little girls (a range of 2yrs.-6yrs. old) featuring a playboy bunny and the words "player" in repeated patterns on the shirtfront.

Or - different anecdote. Last week at the bus terminal I saw a normal, middle-school aged girl walking hand-in-hand with her mother, with a large Beatrix-Potteresque rabbit on her shirt, and the words "Let's do it like rabbits all day long, first I'll do you then you do me."

Or, there's the mannequin I saw (my not so subtle way of clarifying that this is a corporately-presented ideal; not a mysterious flop), with a knee length t-shirt that announced in bold purple "I am a SLUT," with 'SLUT' in thick, elongated letters that spanned over half the shirt.


I have a theory. Somewhere in mid-America, there is a panel of adolescent boys with uniquely unimaginative senses of sex and humor, that are asked which text they would like women in Asia to brand themselves with, without their real knowledge or consent...

I'm not sure in which category of thought I expect these observations to belong- bewildered humor, like the grammatically crooked notebooks? Paranoia - the fear that I've become psychotically feminist or moralist by even noticing and storing up and connecting these sights?

Or - and by bringing it into a new paragraph, I'm hinting that this is most often where I want take it - is it only possible to consider parabolically?

For instance, perhaps fashion is an art always in a foreign language. What says "I'm self-assured and stylish and unashamed" to one person, says "I'm a slut" to someone else. But wearing it doesn't actually make the person a slut... no one really interprets it that way....(except men sometimes, and sometimes other women?)...

I think what bothers me the most is that unmistakable consciousness behind it - borrowed and corporate, and, it seems, designed to undercut the very empowered confidence that women here (as everywhere) so delicately seek in fashion...and the parable extends...