DIY Citizenship: Asian/American Females’ Sartorial Methods for (Re)dressing Lady Liberty
Fashion Studies (MA)
The Trump administration has made clear that it doesn't believe that certain immigrants and racialized bodies do belong in "America." Yet, amidst this dominant discourse, Asian Americans, particularly those of major East Asian ethnicities, have been hailed as token "model minorities" — assimilated, docile, whitewashed Americans. Moreover, reflecting the intersectionality of gender with race and ethnicity, Asian women seem to more easily "pass" and marry into white America. Illuminating this hidden machination of U.S. identity politics, this research demonstrates how East Asian immigrant females in the United States create and deploy dressing tactics to DIY their sociocultural citizenship as model minorities in an unwelcoming America, despite challenges in their acquiring legal U.S. citizenship. By looking at everyday fashion as the most democratic possibility, this study extends Foucault's theory around technologies of the self into the realm of style-fashion-dress as deployed to DIY a sense of citizenship, whereby DIY underscores the necessity of "doing it oneself" because one lacks access to traditional, legitimized avenues (Foucault et al. 1988, Tulloch 2016, Boler and Ratto 2014). Augmenting the field of fashion studies through the lens of everyday dress practices, this research offers insight into contemporary American sociocultural politics and a call to action to (re)dress Lady Liberty.