On Remembering

We’re halfway through the four-day weekend, American readers of RLB! I trust that everyone had a beautiful and bountiful Thanksgiving. May the gravy continue to flow until the very last leftover morsel has been polished off.

Our American Thanksgiving happens to be one of my favorite holidays, due mostly to its food centric nature. A day when loved ones gather together to devote an entire day to the preparation and consumption of a truly magical (read: terrible for you) meal. The narrative that we’ve constructed around the holiday is, without a doubt, a positive and reflective one. Yes, friends, this is a day to give thanks, much as the pilgrims did at harvest time, breaking bread and living in harmony with their Native American neighbors.

Okay, we all know that the history isn’t as rosy as all that. (Also, I think they ate seals? No, thank you.) Cultural amnesia permeates this holiday as it does so many aspects of American life. I can tell you definitively that children are still making feather headdresses out of construction paper in preschool to commemorate the first Thanksgiving. As we’ve seen recently, Victoria’s Secret and Gwen Stefani also seem to think that’s okay.

You, too, Mary-Kate?
via ew.com

When it comes to cultural amnesia and beauty, so often fashion exhibitions and histories seem to indicate that the only ones participating in the dialogue of American fashion are, and always have been, elite white women. Minh-Ha T. Pham, creator of the gorgeous blog Of Another Fashion, An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color, seeks to “redress” this partial history. Ms. Pham is a writer, professor, and blogger, and the Of Another Fashion blog is the digital component of a larger project:

“…in June 2010 I began collecting home and professional photographs, magazine articles and advertisements, retail packaging, and garments and accessories of, by, and about women of color from various archives, rare and out-of-print books and magazines, and – most importantly – from the public for an exhibition called ‘Of Another Fashion’.”

Florence Yamaguchi (left), and Kinu Hirashima (right), both from Los Angeles, are pictured as they stand under an apple tree at Manzanar internment camp. As seen on the blog Of Another Fashion. Credit: National Archives Registry

“In providing a glimpse of women of color’s material cultural histories – a glimpse that no doubt only begins to redress the curatorial and critical absence of minoritized fashion histories – this archive and the forthcoming exhibition commemorates lives and experiences too often considered not important enough to save or to study.”

Some images on the blog are found photos, but many of them are submitted by family members of the women they depict, and are accompanied by touching descriptions of who these women really were, in life. Putting names to faces and stories to bodies only makes them more beautiful, more real.

You can submit photos to the project here and join Minh-Ha T. Pham on her mission to create “a site of oppositional memory…against systematic forgetting.”

Submitted to Of Another Fashion by N. D. (Los Angeles, CA).

Have a great weekend, everybody! xo

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