I know that I was very fortunate to grow up in San Francisco, which boasts a huge percentage of Chinese-Americans. I experienced very little racism and never felt conflicted about who I was or which culture I identify with, because so many of my peers were just like me, with a foot in both worlds and somehow managing to balance those. It wasn't until high school that it even occurred to me that not every city was like mine! All those YA novels about Asian-Americans growing up in hostile environments and the struggles they had felt thankfully far removed from my own life. The more I grow up and the more people I meet, of course, the more I realize how difficult the Asian-American identity is for some. Still, living in California, I mostly don't notice my minority...but it does pop up every now and then in the strangest ways!
I was reading up on vintage sewing machines and ended up perusing the comment section over on Peter's blog regarding hand-crank sewing machines, and suddenly had a fit of jealousy over all those lucky people who had sewing machines sitting in their grandmothers' attics. Being the child of immigrants, our house doesn't have an attic (that is unrelated to the immigrating, actually) and our garage only has boxes of our old Chinese school homework and math workbooks (not even lying!). No vintage sewing notions, and certainly no beautiful old treadle machines! And even though my mom sewed prolifically as a young lady, none of those clothes have made it to me, since it's impractical to cart a handmade wardrobe over the Pacific ocean to a tiny apartment in SF. And since my grandparents grew up extremely poor, I certainly don't have any heirloom Edwardian wedding gowns!
|The closest thing I have: my mom's 1970s qipao.|
So even though I love being Asian-American, and am proud of my heritage, sometimes, a very tiny part of me wishes that I were white, if only so that I could inherit all these treasures from generations past. I also wish this a tiny bit when I think about dressing up in historic clothing, as I'm pretty sure that my great-great-great-whatever didn't wear gorgeously embellished 18th century frock coats or huge swishing hoopskirts. I also don't know too many other APA bloggers who are into vintage sewing or historic fashion, and I definitely don't know any in real life, so sometimes I feel a little bit like an anomaly.
Then I remember that I make geeky dresses from thrifted sheets, and I think that there are probably bigger reasons for feeling like an anomaly, and I like it that way.
But oh! for a gorgeous vintage Featherweight!
*I came across this interview with Lucy Liu, and it's kind of sad how similar things are, even after 80+ years. It's still just as difficult now for an APA to get a leading role as it was when Anna May Wong was a star in the 1930s. And then there are projects like this one that reveal just how little people know about "others" even in this day and age.
[And hey, on a totally different note, if you haven't added your knit stashbusting project to the May link party yet, go do it. You've got til Sunday to get in on