Renaissance Faire - Race and Culture
This month hosts The Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Los Angeles. For those of you who have never been to a Ren Faire, one of the key aspects of it is costume and dressing up.
When I was in High School and would go with my High School friends, I was always a little jealous of the costumes that they would wear. All of my friends in High School you see, were white. The costumes that they would wear always looked right on them and somehow, wrong on me.
One year, I took things into my own hands and decided to dress as a Chinese Peasant. I got a Rice Paddy hat from our local chinatown and a pretty drab and easy top and pants (I super wish I could find these photos for you guys)
The effect worked, a lot of people noticed my costume and laughed at my little joke.
Still, I would look at my friends in their beautiful dresses and flower crowns and envy that they could easily slip into this land of make believe and I still felt a little bit like an outsider.
I don’t believe that anyone particularly made me feel this way, it was just something that made me aware of my race when usually it’s something I don’t necessarily think about.
So, I went and decided to just wear the ‘wrong’ feeling costumes anyways, it was all pretend and I could do anything I wanted.
But this year, I decided to do something different. I did some research and found out that during the Elizabethan period, the Ming dynasty would have been in power. I did some research online and found myself a Ming Dynasty costume.
It was everything I had ever wanted. I felt pretty, but also I felt like I belonged. I felt like I was able to share my culture and what was beautiful about that time period with people who didn’t know. A lot of people stopped me to ask about my costume! I wish I had known a little bit more about accurate construction or really, anything about the Ming Dynasty, but I still felt right in it.
There are lots of cultures that existed during the Elizabethan era and I encourage any People of Color to share that when they go to a Renaissance festival next time! I would love to see more costumes, maybe Armenian or Turkish or Mongolian!
Next year I want to take this as a starting point and try to incorporate more elements of fantasy. There are lots of Chinese dramas that take period costumes and throw some fun fantasy elements into it. Here are some cool examples: