The western world as broken as it is at this point in present history, still remains as influential both subliminally and openly in many ways.
Third world or developing countries (to be politically correct), still long to achieve the level of social “civilisation” (as on would call it) and worldly power that the western countries built around themselves. Coming from a western upbringing and having a third world ethnological culture embedded into my system from birth, I fail to understand the common contradictions that arise, unaddressed but firmly opinionated from those that raised me with dual ethics.
The up bringers themselves come from a time when housewives were the norm, men were the only breadwinners, children spoke only when spoken to, racism was still legal and Mary Quant hadn’t yet invented the mini PVC shift dress that was yet to influence Vivienne Westwood’s mini crini!
As a 2nd generation immigrant of Nigerian ethnicity, you grow up hearing mothers scorning the Western influence on their daughters wardrobe, with statements such as, “It’ only in this country where girls walk around with belts as tops and tops that scarcely cover their breasts “. Comments such as the above were regularly dismissed as one of those things that Nigerian mums say (either through elderly age, arrogance or ignorance). I gradually grew inquisitive and questioned other friends of relatively similar backgrounds, whether they same across the same annoyance classified as a fact instead of an opinion.
They concluded with an agreement.
Pondering deeply about this, as I do, everything… in detail!
I happened to be lounging with my mother in our living room, watching, as I’m sure you would correctly guess (yeah right) a Nigeria film, as you do lol! In the film the young girls were taking part in a traditional town dance competition, judged by the town elders, (a bunch of elderly men grinning and tapping their walking sticks in aesthetic approval). The young girls ranged from as young and unformed as 13 to about as formed and full figured as 24, wore *clears throat of mucus for a full disclosure*… A TWO PEICE!
Ok that wasn’t worth the throat clear…
Two Piece; n ; A piece of cloth called Ankara tied around the bust, (like a boob tube but not a boob tube), and once again a piece of cloth tied around the waist just about covering the buttocks.
I hope you have a visual illustration in your imagination creative minds of this ‘two piece’. Please do. Now on top of that envision boobs and bums, full ones held up by theses two pieces, wobbling, shaking and arousing the elders!
I know right! Well I don’t know what your thinking but I’m thinking MAJOR contradiction!
In obvious shock after clear recognition of the semi nude scenes, I jolted out of the couch followed by an aggressive comeback to a long forgotten adjourned and unresolved (until this point) conclusion.
My mother obviously in complete shock and fuelled with absolute confusion glared at me with a vacancy in he eyes like that of a toddler.
“Mum, how come you used to cuss me for wearing shorter skirts, (*notice the use of the operative word shorter*) because I was born here (* the UK*) when those girls in the Nigerian film are wearing even shorter pieces of cloth! (*said in a rather sarcastic tone*). My mother in return jumped to her own defence although she knew and I could see in her eyes that she knew very well that I was right!
“No, no it’s not!”, yeah that’s what she replied, “They’ve copied it all from here, that’s not how they dress back home.”.
So I said, “Ok… even though this film is a depiction of lifestyles and cultures in Nigeria and it’s directed by a Nigerian?” she dismissed me and went back to her film.
As angry as this made me feel I came to the conclusion that fashion and presentation culturally is as beauty is, also in the eye of the beholder. I noticed that ones background and ethnological culture is always put on a pedal stool when in another mans land and or shunned by the emigrating resident.
When a migrant migrates, a new persona and mannerism is adopted in order to fit in and synchronize well enough to benefit and be beneficial in an unknown territory. All he or she really has to treasure is their original ethnicity/culture/national customs, which they cannot prominently expose due to the unfamiliar nature of it, which may confuse and deconstruct a culture/ethnicity/nationality that is already structured and in sync with itself.
This also made me think of the tiny urban habitat that immigrants are usually grouped into. Then comes the 2nd generations which have to endure confusion, due to dual nationalities and cultural crashes which actually cause you to think about the depths of the former, and how much they actually determine your wellbeing, your understanding of self and surroundings.
Then you get cultural congestion where worlds collide and are rejected, accepted deconstructed and reconstructed into a kind’ve patchwork heritage, much like the 2nd generation immigrant children, who have try to learn, accept and adapt to their parents backgrounds whilst going through he same in the country they were born and till this day live in.
This is the journey….