A Feeling of Belonging: Asian American Women's Public by Shirley Jennifer Lim

By Shirley Jennifer Lim

When we think the actions of Asian American ladies within the mid-twentieth century, our first ideas usually are not of snowboarding, attractiveness pageants, journal studying, and sororities. but, Shirley Jennifer Lim argues, those are exactly the different types of rest practices many moment new release chinese language, Filipina, and eastern American ladies engaged in in this time.

In A Feeling of Belonging, Lim highlights the cultural actions of younger, predominantly single Asian American ladies from 1930 to 1960. this era marks a very important generation—the first within which American-born Asians shaped a severe mass and started to make their presence felt within the usa. notwithstanding they have been exceptional from prior generations by means of their American citizenship, it used to be basically via those likely mundane ''American'' actions that they have been in a position to conquer two-dimensional stereotypes of themselves as kimono-clad ''Orientals.''

Lim lines the various ways that those younger ladies sought declare to cultural citizenship, exploring such issues because the nation's first Asian American sorority, Chi Alpha Delta; the cultural paintings of chinese language American actress Anna could Wong; Asian American formative years tradition and sweetness pageants; and the success of popularity of 3 foreign-born Asian girls within the past due Fifties. via donning poodle skirts, going to the seashore, and generating magazines, she argues, they asserted not only their American-ness, yet their humanity: a sense of belonging.

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Extra info for A Feeling of Belonging: Asian American Women's Public Culture, 1930-1960

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The members of Chi Alpha Delta held “rush teas” to attract new sorors. They served refreshments such as pastries and cake and greeted unfamiliar women while making them feel at home with friendly conversation. The women who were rushing would have to meet the sorors and express their personalities through conversation while accepting refreshments and dressing appropriately for each event. In case the sorors or prospective members needed guidance in what to wear, they had ample venues to observe appropriate fashions.

This desire for the larger American public to recognize their Japanese ancestry also happened at Nisei Week. Even though Nisei Week showcased “smart” fashion shows that demonstrated the correct fashions for every conceivable event, the queen and her court wore kimonos when acting as representatives of Little Tokyo. Clad in kimonos, the queen and her court would present invitations to Los Angeles merchants and the mayor’s office. What is particularly interesting is that the young women themselves generally did not know how to wear the kimono, and experts were hired to teach the young women how properly to attire themselves and how to walk while wearing one.

39 Thus, like many other racial minorities, the women of Chi Alpha Delta were not allowed to exercise the full privileges of their legal American citizenship. Not owning a house had severe repercussions, for it meant that the members of Chi Alpha Delta would continually search for locations in which to hold their meetings; they did not enjoy campus visibility; and they commuted to the university. Without a house, Chi Alpha Delta’s members remained scattered in locations ranging from West Los Angeles, three miles south and west of campus, to Mabel Ota’s domicile in the Boyle Heights YWCA, twenty-five miles to the east.

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