I’ve been watching with some bemusement the coverage of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s tour of India, specifically recent commentary on his and his family’s choice of wearing native attire.
While I do feel that it’s important to follow custom – wear a leg covering whilst temple visiting in Bali, cover your arms in most Muslim countries, etc. – I really think that people can go overboard trying to fit in.
Having been married to someone from the Chinese culture, (and actually living in Asia), for some decades now, I can see where it might become tempting to co-opt a Suzy Wong style. However, one must admit that the cheongsam really can only be best pulled off by those they were originally made for: thin, leggy women with small hips and busts. Sadly, I’m not ticking any boxes there.
I remember meeting a woman years ago, during my first days of expat life in Singapore. A somewhat overweight Caucasian American, she was married to a Pakistani gentleman. She chose to dress, daily, in a traditional Shalwar Kameez. Her hubby, however, was always dressed in typical Western attire. She looked ridiculous.
So go ahead, tip your hat to custom and costume occasionally, if you must, but beware of being seen as a culture thief…it’s never a good look.
Here’s a bit about Trudeau’s Indian tour missteps:
* Images appearing in story not author’s own