Despite my Taiwanese ethnicity, some would say that I’ve been “white washed.” I was born in America and have lived in areas with low Asian populations my entire life. This past month, however, I had the pleasure of flying to the great motherland of Taiwan to see family and adventure to attraction sites. During my stay, I discovered five fashion and beauty “culture shocks” that I’d like to share!
Ever since Coco Chanel’s accidental sunburn from her Riviera trip, tanning has been all the rage in western civilization. Yet in Taiwan, society finds beauty in pale skin. This perspective stems from ancient dynastic times when fair skin resembled wealth, nobility, and feminine beauty. Thus, people in Taiwan, especially women, will go to great lengths to avoid evidence of sun on their skin by applying skin whitening formulas and carrying umbrellas on sunny days to shade from UV rays.
With the humid and sweltering weather, it is impossible to maintain frizzy hair. The solution to this issue is perms! Perms are basically a necessity because they allow men and women to attain smooth or curly hairstyles without much fuss throughout the day.
Since the workload for high schools is more rigorous and demanding than for colleges, public schools require students to wear uniforms from elementary to high school years. The main purpose is to create unity to reduce distractions. Additionally, for scholarly reasons, students typically do not cater to their appearances with cosmetics, hair products, fragrances, etc. until they begin college.
Although both Americans and the Taiwanese will wear black to a funeral, they definitely have conflicting dress code beliefs. Americans dress to the nines to exhibit respect for the dead, as the service is an honoring event. In contrast, the Taiwanese pay tribute by dressing sloppily to show distress from the dead’s passing. Moreover, it is inappropriate to attend in Taiwan a funeral in a lace dress, fancy veil, sleek tuxedo, or pair of pointy pumps.
The weather in Taiwan is cooler and more bearable in the evenings. Therefore, it is common for streets to be bustling even at midnight, and night markets are quite popular! Night markets are streets filled with boutiques, restaurants, and vendors that open for business once the sun goes down. Many teens buy clothing from these hotspots, as pieces are more affordable from night markets than from malls. Fashion from night markets is extremely trendy (you can easily find identical items in multiple shops) and generally imitates Korean or Japanese styles.
I oftentimes forget that an abundance of civilians on earth lives by completely different rules than I do. My vacation to Taiwan, the country of bubble tea and designer Jason Wu, reopened my eyes, exceeded my expectations, and brought me closer to my native culture. I highly suggest taking a trip to Taiwan sometime in the future, and if you do visit, save your receipts because they double as lottery tickets!
Which fun fact did you find most amusing? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello! My name is Kitty Wu, I'm from Virginia Beach, and I am a Fashion Merchandising and Design student at Virginia Tech. I am currently a member of the Scholarship as well as Recruitment committees for Kappa Alpha Theta, an Ambassador of Recruitment for the College of Liberal Arts and Human [...]