So I know I said I was going to take a Tumblr break, but I came across this and I just could not resist.
This is actually a costume that you can buy for Halloween! The grossness of it is unbelievable — and it speaks to the extent that Asian women have been fetishized, exoticized, and commodified. I am tempted to buy this thing just so I can write all over it and call attention to the sexism, racism, fetishism, and general disgusting nature of the costume.
I could potentially cross out “THANK” and change it to “FUCK” and cross out the “ENJOY” on the breasts, and cross out the “TAKE ME OUT” on the back as well. I could then add a message across the back and ass that says something like, “IF YOU THINK THIS IS HOT, YOU’RE A RACIST, SEXIST DOUCHEBAG” or something along those lines.
Thoughts? Ideas on how to modify this costume into a critical piece?
Edit: Or alternatively, I could write on the back, “THIS IS A CULTURALLY APPROPRIATED, FETISHIZED, EXOTICIZED, RACIST, SEXIST, PIECE OF SHIT”
xoericxo replied to your photo So I know I said I was going to take a Tumblr…
this is also categorized under “geisha costumes” on the website it’s from, btw
Well, that just makes it even better. Because apparently, all Asians are the same.
Ummm It’s just a costume I don’t see the problem with it :/
I probably would be more harsh with you, if not for the fact that you are all fourteen years of age. And when I was fourteen years old, I probably wouldn’t have thought much of the picture, either. So, instead, I am going to explain to you why it is a problem, instead. If any of this is confusing, feel free to ask and I will try my best to be more clear. I’m used to teaching undergrads, so if this doesn’t make sense to you, it’s my fault, not yours.
1.) Historically, Asian women have been characterized as hypersexual in America. This means that we are stereotyped in a way that makes us seem like exotic vixens at best, or cheap, foreign prostitutes at worst. Because the costume is a cheongsam/qi pao, and it represents the quintessential Chinese takeout box along with imagery on the takeout box on the front of the cheongsam, it is clearly a costume meant to represent Chinese women. This would be considered “cultural appropriation” whereby American manufacturers steal something that culturally belongs to China and exploits the cultural product. In this case, the cultural product is both the qipao/cheongsam and the Chinese takeout box — the modern symbol of Chinese migration to America.
You can imagine a white girl wearing this with chopsticks in her hair and her eyes taped back into slits to make herself look “Asian.” (In fact, in the above image, that’s a white chick with makeup and a wig that makes her more “Asian” looking.) You can further imagine yellowish powder on her face — this is what we would call “yellowface” and it is terribly derogatory and related to the history of minstrel shows in America and blackface culture. Pretty much, the boiled down idea is that because white people think that they own the world, they can therefore steal and appropriate whatever cultures they feel would serve their interests best and make money off those cultures and people, regardless of what injury it does to those populations. The three biggest examples of this in America are the genocide and colonization of Native American people, the slave trade from 17th-19th century, and the exploitative coolie system of indentured servitude where the Chinese built the transcontinental railroad.
2.) Cultural appropriation aside, look at what is on the costume. Let’s think about this a little. What do takeout boxes represent? Chinese food, right? But this Chinese food is not authentic Chinese food — it is Chinese food produced specifically for an American market that doesn’t know real Chinese food from this weird hybrid. So the largest consumers of Chinese food tend to be non-Asian folks. Now, Chinese food has a price tag on it — it is something that you buy. Therefore it is what we call a “commodity.”
The image of the takeout box is reflected on the costume and the body of the woman — this means that it isn’t just Chinese food that is being commodified, but the body of the woman. Because Asian women have, as I mentioned above, been historically defined and stereotyped as exotic whores (to be blunt about it), can’t you see the relationship between the takeout box as something that is produced for and consumed by (mostly) white people, and Chinese woman’s body as something that is also produced by and consumed by non-Asian men?
Considering the fact that the back of the costume says “TAKE ME OUT” suggests a few things: 1.) Chinese women are a commodity to be consumed; 2.) Chinese women can be bought; 3.) Chinese women are whores whose only value is their sexuality.
Which takes me to my third point:
3.) The most egregious part of the costume is the fact that it says “ENJOY” on her breasts. If we consider that Chinese food is usually considered the food of choice for people who want CHEAP food, in this sense, not only does the Chinese woman whose exoticized and fetishized identity is being appropriated have to THANK the consumer for purchasing her, but she is a CHEAP commodity whose value requires thanking the non-Asian savior for inserting himself between her legs.
So, what this costume is saying is:
- Chinese women are something to be consumed
- Chinese women are cheap whores
- Not only are they cheap whores, they are Chinese cheap whores
- This means that they are exotic cheap Chinese whores
- They should be grateful that we (non-Asian men who fetishize Asianness) are providing her with salvation
- But, she can’t really be saved because no one really wants her, they just want to consume her and fetishize her. This is why she is a takeout box: cheap, easily produced, easily found anywhere in just about any city or town in America.
Now do you see the problem with it?
In case you want to tell me I read too much into it, my job is to teach undergrads this type of stuff. So no, I did not read too much into it. I didn’t have to read at all. It screamed out at me in all of its disgusting Orientalism.