Confronting Stereotypes of Asian Women through Fashion Design

This article is part of Concentrate’s Voices of Youth series, which features content created by Washtenaw County youth in partnership with Concentrate staff mentors, as well as stories from adult writers who examine issues important to youth. local young people. In this episode, student artist Ella Yip shares her design for a dress that challenges common stereotypes of Asian women.

For more on this topic from Ella, check out the story she and fellow Voices of Youth participant Thylicia Babumba wrote about how stereotypes affect the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Ella explains each of the elements of her design as follows:

High: The shirt underneath represents who you really are, the design showing the complexity of all identity and personality. The layered chemise, made of a flowing light pink sheer tulle, shows how one identity can be masked by the prejudices and stereotypes of others. This top is inspired by the traditional Chinese dress, a Cheongsam, representing Asian heritage.

Cut: The waist of the dress has a corset look. This represents a stereotype/beauty norm that Asian women face regarding their expected body appearance and the stereotypes that surround their figure.

Left trouser leg: Represents words, sayings and opinions that can be internalized to combat stereotypes. The volume of the pants should represent the size or the amount of ways anyone can push back the stereotypes.

Right trouser leg: These pants are tight to represent the “real skin” and the complexity of a person: not how others see you, but who you really are.

Form: The train is made of a dark black mesh, burlap material, representing how stereotypes follow all Asian women and how they can sometimes feel. However, the fabric is porous with many gaps, which accounts for the fault and the lack of real evidence to support the stereotypes faced by Asian identities.

Color pallet: The color scheme, consisting of almost all red hues, is another way of representing Asian, especially Chinese, heritage. Red is a prominent color, considered to bring good luck, and the color is worn on almost all special occasions, weddings, etc.

Artist Statement:

I have loved fashion design almost all my life. I drew dresses as soon as I had the materials, making patterns on my baby blankets. I learned to sew around the age of 6 when my mother got tired of me cutting out my dolls’ clothes because I was playing “couturier”.

As an artist, speaking through something other than words inspires me. I like to see how I can make people think just by looking at something. Spreading a message with more than just words is something I hope to take even further in the future and even hopefully bring these pieces to life!

Concentrate staff member Yen Azzaro mentored Ella’s Voices of Youth on this project.

Joseph E. Golightly