22.7.05

Clothes maketh the day

If I had five bucks for every time I went through the following rigmarole today, I'd've collected enough cold hard cash to buy me a nice dinner tonight.
Question: Why aren't you wearing an ethnic costume/dress/outfit today?

Choose from the following options.

A. I forgot we were celebrating Racial Harmony Day today.
B. I don't have any ethnic outfits.
C. It's silly to pretend that wearing ethnic outfits one day out of the year makes us a racially harmonious society.
D. I wanted to wear a T-shirt and jeans --- it's the "ethnic" outfit of the global culture --- but I don't think that'd go down too well.
E. Dude, I am the very poster girl for racial harmony, regardless of what I wear.

Answer: All of the above.
I gave different answers to different people, though I didn't have the guts to mention (C) out loud. All of them hold true except for (B) --- I have one ethnic outfit, but it's long-sleeved, too hot to wear in a non-airconditioned environment, and I'd loaned it to Ondine, who was more game to play dress-up this year.

Perhaps dissatisfied by my glib answers, some of my questioners chose to interpret my sparkly emerald-green embroidered and beaded shoes as an attempt to adhere to the dress code. Uh, no. I wore them because they brightened up an otherwise boring it's-Friday-and-I-don't-give-a-damn outfit.

All you fashion mavens out there might want to note that the most popular ethnic-costume-of-choice today seemed to be Indian or pseudo-South Asian outfits. Saris, punjabi suits, punjabi suit tops or some airy cotton cousin of its ilk seemed to be de rigeur among the younger staff, though mandarin collars and Chinese knot-buttoned tops also put in their usual biannual appearance (their other major outing is at the Chinese New Year celebrations).

My default outfit for Racial Harmony Day used to be a black mandarin-collared sleeveless top over gray pants --- stylish yet suitably funereal, just right to counter everything about the "commemoration" of Racial Harmony Day. The honest truth is that I was planning to wear the top today (the gray pants were retired a couple of years ago), just that in my sleepiness this morning, the whole matter completely slipped my mind until after I was already dressed and didn't have time to change again.

But that was just as well, because I am Little Miss Racial Harmony, if you get down to the bare bones of it. Us biracial types walk around with "racial harmony" stamped into our features, if you just know how to read it right. Most people I've met don't, which, if you think about it, is the real pity about our supposedly racially harmonious society.

Related post: Race matters, Singapore-style

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6 Comments:

At 7/22/2005 11:53 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

You could have said:
-yeah, it's an ethnic look, to show the white man who's bringing us down... gimme five, sister!

oh, but it's not the white man who's bringing you guys down...

 
At 7/23/2005 9:54 am , Blogger Ondine said...

At least you didn't have people dress up like Jihad terrorists. Every year we get some and every year, they get more real. Last year, I thought the guy was Arafat, this year, the guy just looked like a very disgruntled Muslim cleric. We also had a guy trying to be Egyptian but failing and looked like a blonde Jesus wannabe with sneakers.

 
At 7/24/2005 12:30 am , Blogger tscd said...

How do you know when something is 'ethnic' ah? Does it have to be of Eastern influence?

Did anyone turn up dressed as Scarlett O'Hara?

 
At 7/24/2005 12:05 pm , Blogger Tym said...

Nardac --- More importantly, no one would get the joke.

Ondine --- Fortunately, our kids don't dress up, just the teachers. Nothing remotely Middle Eastern showed up.

tcsd --- There were no Scarlett or Rhett sightings, though a colleague from the UK briefly donned a hat-like thing that's allegedly Scottish. As for 'ethnic', you know how Singapore is: Chinese, Malay, Indian, Others...

Some of my male colleagues wore Hawaiian shirts, which were very harmonious, though not necessarily racially harmonious, I guess. Maybe I'll try that next year. A colleague suggested an entire hula outfit, but *ahem* that traditionally involves going topless so, er, not.

 
At 7/25/2005 8:19 am , Blogger The Legal Janitor said...

my gf is indian and she's teaching at HCJC. She told me that she's gonna bring me to school next year for racial harmony day as an accessory. lol.

 
At 7/27/2005 4:01 pm , Blogger Agagooga said...

I would've gone in a loincloth ;)

 

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