Between the nineteenth and twentieth century, like in the United States and Europe, Japan and China were involved in a transformation in their social and cultural lifestyles as witnessed in the change of dress. One and the major factor that led to nationalism is the economic policy imposed by the colonial rulers that led to the adoption of the Western culture by the native East Asians (Finnane 100).
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The second factor is a religion which played a key role in uniting the people of East Asia in an attempt to combat the problems bestowed to them by the colonizers. The third factor is the stipulation of secular materials, which gave the Native East Asians the ability to see beyond their close-mindedness and unsophisticated virtues.
In China, the Chinese women were not allowed to wear pants. They could dress in a short tunic and trousers. However, conversion in the mode of dressing has been experienced right through the twentieth century.
Several administrative agents together with the government in China have engaged in discussions about the dress reforms such as permitting school girls to jog their hairstyles and the sleeve-length of their blouses (Evans and Donaldson 136).
The government took an initiative of telling people what to wear and what not to wear. For example, the changing of school girls’ costumes that saw them wear blouses tacked into their skirts (Edwards 125).
The jackets and Chinese gowns were rejected as they were seen to make the rear part of the clothes saggy and weird-looking. It was argued that wearing the ‘Chinese bra’ would not lead to adoption of the western-style breasts. The breast binders in the western culture were used to hide but not to expose the breasts.
When Mao Zedong came into power in 1949, he opposed the implementation of a dress cord that included black leather and a suit. This was a policy proposed by Yu Xinquing, Zedong’s chief of protocol. He rejected the policy arguing that the Chinese people had their own virtues and did not needed to follow others. He instead recommended for the ‘Mao suit’, which included trousers and a jacket known as ‘Sun Yat-sen.’ (Finnane 104)
The Chinese dress experienced a significant change due to the political proceedings. Transformation in dress was contentious and raised numerous arguments and discussions especially the women’s dress.
Questions about feet size, the length of hair, the length of skirts, sleeve length, the height of heels and exposure of breasts. These numerous queries and awareness made Lu Xun conclude that life if challenging because a woman indeed has many parts to her body.
Mao’s decision not to wear a suit was a sign of distancing himself from the western culture. Political climate and the remoteness of China inhibited the studies of Chinese in the western states. China was in a situation that her cultural norms would be eroded and would give in to Maoism (Timolson par. 2).
There was a mixed reaction about the influence of the western culture, the existing political serene and Tang poetry. The Maoism was an increasing point of concern during the cultural transformation especially in the clothing sector.
During Mao’s era, clothing was seen as a dress that created a significant difference between the Native Chinese and the non-Chinese. In the political divide, the Chinese believed that clothing was a sign of social admiration and value. Post-Mao saw the discussion of fashion by the global community (Finnane 120). This was intended to bring development in the global business and international relations.
The people of China deceased from following Mao’s rules after his death, which led to the emergence of new clothing in major Chinese towns. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the army adopted new military uniforms. In 1914, Sun was the first person to wear the ‘Yat-sen’ suit and the ‘changpao’, which were worn to show patriotism. The women clothing is significantly illustrated as icons in China.
According to Antonia Finnane, Chinese women’s clothing is different from the Japanese women’s clothing (101). It has been argued that there is a relationship between the political climate and gender because a woman is a symbol or pseudonym. Like in other countries around the globe, clothing had a great significance during colonization, and that was held until the present times.
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However, the local clothing has gradually vanished except in the remote parts of China. The folk costumes are viewed as a dress for only few people. Several people have argued that the local clothing in the countries that were fully colonized did not disappear as this was a sign of rebellion, but in countries such as China that did not fully give in to the colonial power; the local clothing continues to disappear (Naofusa par.24).
During an advertisement of a television set by the Toshiba Company, the audience is lured by the appearance of a Chinese woman in a traditional kimono, clothing worn during ceremonies (Chen 162).
The woman’s youthful age and the white piece of clothing are signs of looming tenure, uniqueness and originality. The kimono garment has red coating, silver and golden strings, is outstanding and makes the woman in the advert contemporary and good-looking.
The gradual adoption of the ‘qipao’ by the Chinese women was a result the disappearance of the Maoist pants and jackets. The Sun Yat-sen sun now became the official clothing for the Chinese man mainly worn during ceremonies (Naofusa par.17). The rise to power by both Mao Zedong and Jiang Jieshi saw the continuous emphasizes of the qipao dress by women.
The qipao according to the Chinese was seen as clothing worn to resist Yan’ an, but according to the Guomindang it signified dogging the Japanese. The qipao was viewed to illustrate the importance of the Maoist reign in the state chronologies. This explains to why it has continued to be enhanced and talked about in the present era.
The modern men and women in China do not wear the Mao suit and qipao respectively because of various issues in the new China (Hansen 14). Some of the factors include the revolution in the political environment, industrialization that has led to production of new clothing, and the global diverse commodity market that has vast tastes. However, despite the survival of qipao, the chanpao has significantly disappeared (Finnane 106).
Another example is the “Modern Girl” that has been widely discussed in the Japanese culture. The modern girl has been seen as a magnificent, debauched and average spender because of her way of dressing, celebrating with her friends (Hansen par. 24). The modern moves out with her boyfriend and engage in “Ginza-cruising.”
The Modern Japanese Girl has been contrasted with the flapper, who is seen as one trying to imitate the western culture. During the great earthquake in 1923, the journalist created and illustrated the Modern Girl as a symbol of social and Cultural Revolution (Evans and Donaldon 52).
The Modern has been represented as the most principled Japanese intellectual idol that was a sign of values of the young girl. In the 1930 film, “What Made Her Do What She Did?” the modern girl is seen as an innocent girl without parents who turned into crime. She endures several brutalities and domestic labor. She later decides to revenge by setting fire on a school.
The viewers who gathered in Asakusa to watch the film was left to answer numerous questions posed the Modern Girl. In order to answer these questions the Modern Girl has to be play a role in the economical, social, and cultural conversion of her era. Even though the Modern Girl was characterized as a political icon, she is militantly independent. She had no thoughts of being a laborer or a supporter of the women rights.
She was a self-governing girl who transformed from ancient cultural norms to a modern girl who establishes a relationship with men. The characterization of the Modern Girl was significant as it illustrates the gradual transformation of a woman who seeks to be alike with a man both physically and spiritually. This is a representation of what women had been over the years succumbing to the ill-treatment.
The Modern Girl is seen an intellectual, who is double minded as she engages in immoral activities (Edwards 23). The contemporary women have been interpreted as gradually transforming and revolving through liberation and freedom to express themselves. The modern young Japanese woman was antagonistic. She tried to adopt the living styles of the European women.
Ambiguity has been outlined in the characterization of Modern Girl (Sun 40). The movement information for the mass press shows the ability of the Modern Girl to travel throughout the nation. The Modern Girls magnificent body especially her long straight legs and short hair made her exceptionally outstanding. The Modern Girl’s legs are a representation of the contemporary young Japanese woman who has a new life.
The illustration of the Modern Girl as complemented from the family responsibilities had a definite communal consequence. Even though, the people distanced themselves from discussing the civic obligation of women, the responsibility was linked to the natural fortitude rather than the position they hold in the family.
The unsavory reputation of the Modern Girl represented the revolution in the policies governing the position of women in the family (Chen 146). The struggles of the peasant Japanese woman were comprehensive as the Modern Girl engaged in the politics.
This meant that the contemporary woman could take part in the political issues and engage in the implementation of rules and regulation governing society. The Modern Girl is seen as independent and immoral because the women took to the streets to demand their rights and the men expressed their concerns (Timolson par. 6).
The belligerent and revolutionary independence that was witnessed before World War Two was a reaction to the prevailing situation experienced by the counties (in this case East Asia) under the superior colonial powers of the western counterparts who had different interests and level of control. As a response to this, Meiji felt that his country should not go through what their regional states (China) went through (Fukai par.11).
Nationalism will enable Japan to be a significant donor to bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). The global and local atmosphere currently existing is incomparable to that, which existed in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Japan and China are no longer inferior, but significantly rising to power as a diplomatic atmosphere continues to enhance their economies.
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Finnane, Antonia. What should Chinese women wear? A National Problem. 1996. Web.
Fukai, Akiko. Japanism in Fashion. 2010. Web.
Hansen, Karen. The world in Dress, Anthropological Perspective on Clothing, Fashion, and culture. 2007. Web.
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Sun, Tao. Social Structure, Media System, and Audiences in China: Testing, the Uses and Dependency Model, Guoming, Mass 88. 2009. Web.
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