Women in Japan try to change their culture

In Nagoya, an industrial city on the coast of Japan, Japanese women dress as Mexican Chicanas.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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There is a subculture in the style of people of another race in Asia: Japanese women posing as Latinas. Countries like the United States are caught right now in a virtual showdown over cultural appropriation. Selena Gomez in a bindi (a decorative element in the center of the forehead used in India) and Kylie Jenner in braids, are some examples.

Pop culture takes advantage of cultural appropriation, brings meaningful things to another culture, and uses them only because it is aesthetically pleasing. This debate can spark a forest fire.

Is there a dividing line between taking things from another culture and making them meaningful in another?

In an interview with the Refinery29 channel, a Japanese named Ayaka explains why she likes to dress as a Chicana: "I watched the fashion and attitude of these women, and I tried to imitate it myself." Every morning, she transforms her face to look like a "Chicana," an American of Mexican descent.

Ayaka was drawn to the power she saw in the Chicanas of '90s movies like Mi Vida Loca and Selena, where bandanas, dark lips and Nike Cortez sneakers channeled stories of romance and resistance. These films were massive hits in the United States, but they also became international cult classics.

Japanese Chicana clothing is in keeping with the Chola style of the 90s. However, this is not to the liking of some members of the original community because they feel that the style of foreigners exalts some negative characteristics of Chicana stereotypes.

Also read: Tehuana Woman: cultural icon of femininity and empowerment in Mexico

Regarding this point, Ayaka reflects, "I must apologize for not doing everything right or offending anyone, but I'm trying to do my best. I want to look strong, but I also want to look sexy."

Playing with stereotypes is a big no-no. However, Japanese women like Ayaka feel a true kinship with the idea of ​​Chicanas.

Denise Sandoval, a professor of Chicano and Chicana Studies at California State University at Northridge, agrees that what some Japanese women are doing is cultural appropriation: "They see it as an honor and a respect for Chicano culture. But I believe that on the other hand, they are free from the politics of life and death of the style on the streets of Los Angeles. "

According to the expert, Japanese Chicanas are finding liberation and freedom in other cultures. In Japan, all women's fashion seems to strive for a single ideal: cute, soft, and submissive.

Chicana culture has provided a source of inspiration to show society that there is more than one way to characterize a Japanese woman. Depending on the perspective from which it is observed, it is true that the Japanese highly value uniformity. These women go against their culture because instead of "normal", they prefer to stand out. Japanese Chicanas rebel against the strict rules of their society by culturally appropriating stronger and tougher women.

Japanese women who dress like Chicanas want to be different and don't allow themselves to worry about what the world thinks. Although many people believe that if it is not a culture you were born with, it is not a culture that you should participate in, Japanese Chicanas are still respectful of the roots of this community.

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