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MoNa and Her Posse

A new trend in Japan has emerged: long white T-shirts and baggy khakis, with the ladies penciling in their eyebrows. The fashion-forward Japanese have embraced a style of dress that originated in the Mexican-American Chicano movement, creating a huge cultural mixture. According to an article from the Huffington Post, the trend comes from the “1940’s and 1970’s Mexican-American empowerment movements,” and it follows the Chicano styles seen most in the 1990’s in East Los Angeles.  Japan even has their very own “Jola” (Japanese chola) pop star known as MoNa, or Sad Girl, derived from the name of the character in the American movie, “Mi Vida Loca.” She sings and raps in a mix of Japanese, English and Spanish, representing the Chicano subculture in Japan (Mona-Sadgirl.com). The Huffington Post article also recognizes that “the Japanese affinity for Chicano culture seems to be making its mark in the United States as well, where music labels representing Chicano rappers have recognized the East Asia archipelago as an important market for their artists” (Huffington Post).

Why is it that this is only fashionable in Japan? Japan has welcomed the “cholo” trend with open arms, while the U.S., where “cholos” originated, seems to sneer at such styles. In Los Angeles, the cholo style is far from welcome – it is more of a style that is looked down upon. It may be due to the fact that many people associate cholos with gangs or with East L.A. and lower income areas.  But why is it that people from a country halfway across the world accept and appreciate this movement when we fear it? The way we ostracize the attire and speech of other countries reflects our unjust hostility towards immigrants and foreigners. It is not considered “normal” or “American” to dress any differently from current trends of stripes or polka dots that are “in.” With a variety of immigrants and the various styles they bring, we should adopt these new styles and make them our own, as Japan has done, rather than condemn them for being different. The styles we see in Vogue and Elle should empower the cultural diversity we have because of immigration, rather than belittle those who engage in it.

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4 responses to “#JOLO

  1. To respond to your question of why people from other countries can accept this style while we fear it, I suspect it could stem from the fact that it is easier to embrace and emulate styles when you are distanced from their cultural implications. All the Japanese see is the romanticized images of cool cholos and chicano empowerment, not the gang violence and poverty that make up part of the reality of the style as perceived by Americans.

  2. Perhaps Americans reject the cholo style because they fear that embracing it will erase the social boundaries between the two groups and they will be seen as equals. After such a long history of reigning over immigrants and those associated with the cholo style, Americans may not be very open to accepting that the elements that separate them from the cholos are all just parts of the social construct.

  3. Most Americans choose not to embrace the Chicano culture because of how stigmatized it is. People attach highly negative stereotypes to the Chicano culture, and thus seek to be as far away from it as possible. When people integrate more into those societies, such as the Japanese, it’s only because they have had first hand experience because they have grown up in a mixed environment. Americans don’t understand Chicano culture, or really anything foreign for that matter, and stay away from it. We only use these cultures to mock and imitate them for Halloween.

  4. I find it interesting that this is actually a trend in Japan. Why do you think they chose this style over all the others? I wonder if the ‘cholos’ in our culture are offended because of the possibility that their style is being mocked all the way on the other side of the world.

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