• Fashion Studies (MA)

    Kalina Yingnan Deng

    DIY Citizenship: Asian/American Females’ Sartorial Methods for (Re)dressing Lady Liberty

    As the Trump administration has made clear, certain immigrants and racialized bodies do not belong in "America." Yet, amidst this dominant discourse, Asian Americans, particularly those of major East Asian ethnicities, have been hailed as the token "model minority" - assimilated, docile, whitewashed Americans. Moreover, when considering the intersectionality of gender with race and ethnicity, Asian females 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 strategize and deploy dressing tactics to DIY their socio-cultural 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 (viz. relating to the demos) 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 to contemporary American socio-cultural politics and a call to action to (re)dress Lady Liberty.