Bicultural Style & Bicultural Identification
BICULTURAL (adj.): having or combining the cultural attitudes and customs of two nations, peoples, or ethnic groups
Is it a blessing to be bicultural? It’s a question that many individuals of the "bicultural nature" have asked themselves in the midst of their personal identity crises and painstaking journeys of “discovering themselves”. I’ll admit that the “personal identity crises” part seems a tad dark and depressing, but there's a bright side to everything, right? For those who are able to find a balance between their inherent cultures, it can be a marvelous learning process filled with magical unicorns and wondrous rainbows (with pots of gold at the end).
So maybe we’ll scratch the part about the mythical creatures and optical phenomenons (the products of my active, and might I add slightly Bohemian, imagination). In all seriousness, some of you who are not of the bicultural nature may be asking yourselves what, exactly, a bicultural identity crisis entails? Given that there can be a fashionably inclined metaphor for nearly anything, I'll explain using something that most can relate to- "The Great Shoe Debate".
The Bicultural Identity Crisis:
It can be analogous to choosing whether you want the Valentino 'Rockstud' in a black ballerina flat (aspects of culture A) or a nude slingback (aspects of culture B). Both options embody different characteristics that may, or may not, coincide with how you want to express yourself- but the question remains, which shoe "works for you"?
The fact of the matter is, there isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong” choice- it's simply a matter of personal preference. A bicultural individual may simply decide to choose one over the other, or they may further cater to their stylistic (individual) needs by “getting the best of both worlds”. How does one do that? Well, why not choose a ballerina flat in nude (as opposed to black) or a slingback in black (as opposed to nude)? With both combinations, the individual is able to find a middle ground between both options, or in other words, cultures. If they're especially keen on embracing all that is Valentino (the characteristics of both cultures), they may even decide to snatch up all four combinations. Hence, their sense of “bicultural style” is born.
Creating a mesh of two cultures in order to create a sense of style that is unique to a bicultural individual.
What about my own experience with bicultural style? I consider it a blessing to deem two different countries as my "home"- Saudi Arabia and the United States of America. While each country can be viewed as being drastically different from the other in terms of cultural, and societal, characteristics- with age, I've grown to appreciate the intrinsic beauty in both. Each of these regions have not only played a crucial role in terms of the creation, and cultivation, of my own personal sense of style, but they have taught me to be tolerant and accepting of the personal styles of those around me.
In the United States, I'm occasionally stereotyped as being more "conservative" in terms of my dress- relatively modest hemlines are an un-prevailing personal preference. Simultaneously, I'm also stereotyped as being more "liberal" while in Saudi- I have a preference for wearing ornate turbans and brightly colored abayas (the traditional "cloak" ), as opposed to the solid black versions of the garments.
Nonetheless, stereotypes are opinions, and opinions are subject to criticism and debate. While in a given region I may be considered "liberal" by one individual, I may also be considered "conservative" by another. The fact of the matter is, the opinions of others are irrelevant to me in terms of the choices that I continue to make in relation to my appearance and manner of dressing. My personal sense of style, bicultural by nature, is mine and mine alone.
Bicultural style can be the result of the difference between varying cultures on a mere local level, or on a global level. Whether it's "east coast meets west coast" or "middle east meets middle america", there are always variances in "acceptable" forms of dress, behavior and beliefs. The true challenge, and success, lies within finding a way to balance the influences of your inherent cultures when expressing yourself, and who you are, as a unique individual.
... and my thoughts on "The Great Shoe Debate"? I choose all four.