Open Letter to: "Fashion As A Second Language"

Subject: Open Letter to: "Fashion As A Second Language"
From: Dessi-Ann Edwards
Date: 12 May 2015

Dear Fellow classmates,

Before, I go into my experience you are probably wondering how can fashion relate to language, but through my experience you will have a better understanding of FAASL(Fashion As A Second Language) and how it helped me. Just keep in mind what Amy Tan mentioned about language causing judgement to the readers. Likewise, fashion causes judgement from people because it can tell the type of person you are just by the clothing you have on. Thus, people create wrong impressions and hate.

It was the summer of daisy dukes, floral tops, and long dresses. Every fashionista either owned one or was borrowing it from their sister. Instead, I was preparing to go to a leadership conference. This was the first summer I would be travelling without the comfort of my mother. Sure, I have gone places without her before, but never to a country with a different language. You would think I would be excited to be going to the land of gold and four leave clovers, but I wasn't.

The day finally came and it was time for me to say my goodbyes. I was only leaving for two weeks, but with the baggage I was carrying you would have thought I was moving! The airport was no different than any other. There were people rushing, printing out tickets, and trying to make it through the metal detectors without hearing the *beep*. I was taking this all in as I was chaperoned by my teacher. While everyone else went through the metal detectors successfully, I didn't. No metal detector can stop my need to accessorize. I was draped in gold from head to toe. When the guard came and saw how I was dressed she excused me.

When I finally reached the gate, I saw the prettiest airplane. It was green and white with a clover on the tail. Immediately I knew that it was my plane. After about 9 hours in the sky I finally made it to Ireland. There were other kids from India, Africa, China, and Pakistan. No one could understand one another, but we all dressed similar. I was so shocked to see that other countries were keeping up with trends that American people wore. We all had different languages, but one thing we were able to share and communicate with was our clothes. We build conversation on the type of clothes people in each of our countries wore and how much they cost. I even got some fashion tips to take back home. In England, people were wearing stocking under their shorts which I never thought of. I at first only saw them being perfect to wear under dresses with heels, but never with jeans and sneakers. However, it looked very cute and stylish. Also, in Africa women wore scarfs on their head and now it has become a big trend in America. Even if you are not African, women of all colors are making it apart of their outfits. They are learning how to tie turbans and make cute headbands for a bad hair day. Once, the two weeks were over, I was sad to leave. It was hard to believe that I didn't want to come in the first place and ended up loving the trip. I learned so many things from the different languages I encountered. From learning a shirt can be called a blouse and a hair tie can also be called a scrunchie or bubbles. Through this, we created an everlasting friendship which was the whole purpose of the leadership conference.

There is one thing that changes as much as language and it is fashion. It is constantly changing from decade to decade and culture to culture. Thus, the language we use to describe what we are wearing changes as well. At the end of my experience, I learned the hidden connection between fashion and language. Despite, what others might say of fashion, it goes to show there are many people in this world that still care about beautiful things such as clothes, shoes, and accessories. Just as in Tan’s essay, she learned that it didn't matter what others thought of her work just as long as she was satisfied. Likewise, I saw the importance of knowing fashion because who would of thought it would become useful in a situation like that. In reference to Joyas Voladoras essay "Lusting for Literacy", this was my lust for language through the aid of my fashion sense. I wanted to connect with people from different cultures, but I did not know how to speak it. Luckily, fashion was something we all commonly shared and was able to communicate through. It brought different languages and cultures together. It was amazing to see children from all over the world get along so well. As a result of, fashion! Even though, most of the clothing worn in America is called different names across the globe, it is all the same fabric. For example, people in Taiwan make clothing for people in America and vice versa. Also, we may also shop at the same stores and wear the same size.

Whether we realize it or not, everyone has fashion as a language. For example, when you are out buying clothes, shoes, or whatever it might be. You don’t just buy anything you look at. It has to “speak” to you and get your attention. So, you see everyone has fashion as a second language. Some people might just wake up and put on whatever they feel like, while others might take hours to put together an outfit. Either way, it counts to know and understand fashion. Whether you are 16 or 96 years old, everyone cares about how they look. Fashion icons have even started advertising 70 year old models for clothing brands because they too realize there are older crowds who still care about their appearance and getting judged by the younger generations.

I enjoy looking at fashion, reading about it, and even talking about it. It brings a sense of freedom to my mind when I am stress or bored. However, it can get difficult and expensive to keep up with the latest fashion pieces. You might only wear something for one season and then the next season it is out of style. Yet, that doesn't stop shoppers. People want to be happy and many get it from how they look. Not only does it bring happiness, the way you dress can tell the type of person you are to others. For example, if you dress in skimpy clothing showing a lot of cleavage, others might get the wrong impression of you. Such as, if you write with bad grammar your readers get a bad impression of you. Overall, fashion and language bring judgment. However, as Amy Tan stated, "do not care what others think or say".

As the clothes we wear changes, so does the words we use to describe them. There used to be words such as mod, radical, grunge, and now preppy. Throughout my story I tried to use similar reflective and descriptive language that Tan and Kalam used. Also, using the technique “show, don’t tell” to make my story more descriptive so the reader can paint an image in their head. Hence why I didn't mention I was going to Ireland until further into my essay to give readers a chance to guess where I was going. It was difficult at first, but I enjoyed the challenge.

Dessi-Ann Edwards