Photo via LadyGaga.net
“In truth, Gaga’s attractive, slightly off-kilter features – ethnic nose, prominent front teeth – seem almost infinitely mutable: One day she looks like Debbie Harry, the next, Donatella Versace.” Rolling Stone Issue #1080
Ethnic. Tribal. Words used to classify the “Other.” Not familiar with “Othering”, please read up on it here, here, and over on Racialicious. This quote from Rolling Stone really struck a nerve and I find it crucial to address as I constantly see people, fashion, and food described as either ethnic or tribal. Lady Gaga is one of my favorite women right now and I find her incredibly talented and sexy. So what about this “ethnic nose”? Rolling Stone apparently thinks this is the most appropriate way to describe a woman who doesn’t meet the Euro-centric facial features criteria. Obviously they haven’t looked at a map lately, so I’d like to remind them that “ethnic” people make up more than half of the world’s population. Why is it that we are then called the “other” and exotified?
I live for fashion as you know, but I cringe every time I read lines like this: Teen Vogue’s “…Explore new horizons in layered–on ethnic prints”, or Who What Wear Daily’s “Trend Report: Tribal Punk.” And who could forget American Apparel’s “Afrika” print? When I see these words being used I cannot help but think of bell hook’s Eating the Other. I had an amazing course at UCLA entitled Special Topics in Women’s Studies: Femininities: Queering, Countering, Racializing taught by Stacy Macias in which I read this by the aforementioned author.
“Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.
Currently, the commodification of difference promotes paradigms of consumption wherein whatever difference the Other inhabits is eradicated, via exchange, by a consumer cannibalism that not only displaces the Other but denies significance of that Other’s history through a process of decontextualization.” bell hooks, Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance
Post-modern cultural studies/feminist theory. Applicable to fashion? You bet. I’d really love to hear from one of my favorite bloggers – Mimi of Thread Bared – and from all of you. Lets start a discourse.