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September 18, 2013 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-18

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Wensdy Speme 1,213/Th taeen Bl

Home
by Tanaz Ahmed

online comments issue 911/13
Personal Statement: LDAC in 1000 words
I am so proud of you and honored your our son! also you for-
got to say you did get that E (ok guilty of being that proud par-
ent). I love you so Go Army Go Matthew!!!!!
- USER: Terri S Blanchard

the fashion voyeur: military time byadrienneroberts

Fashion has never had what
you would call a "tight-knit rela-
tionship" with feminism. The
associations are seemingly irrec-
oncilable. Feminists traditionally
don't stand for materialism; the
fashion industry doesn't stand
for frumpiness. Yet it's hard to
arguethat fashion isn't a very real
form of self-expression. What we
purchase, and how we put those
pieces together, is a very tangible
statement about who we are and
how we want others to see us.
Fashion is a way to communicate
your identity, whether you're a
feminist or not.
What we're seeing on the run-
way, as well as on the streets of
Ann Arbor, are women dressed in
military inspired clothing, from
lace-up boots to brass-buttoned
jackets. On the runway for the
Fall 2013 season, Michael Kors
showed women dressed in cam-
ouflage mink coats and goggles.
Charlotte Ronson, Rachel Roy
and Rebecca Minkoff all were
inspired by military style. Pra-
bal Gurung perhaps took the
trend most literally, limiting his
entire collection to army green
as the primary color. Accord-
ing to Fashionista.com, Gurung
drew his inspiration from the
measures the U.S. military has
taken to adapt their uniforms to
the growing number of female
troops. Other articles, however,
say that Gurung was inspired
by an all-female conclave in the
Carpathian Mountains where
"womenaresupposedly trained
in the martial arts to build self-
confidence and are generally
empowered to combat a culture
of gender inequality and sexual
trafficking." While the article
notes that this conclave's exis-
tence is questionable, it's cer-
tainly a statement regardless.
Male and female designers both

.
,::

When I first came to New Jer-
sey from Bangladesh, I stayed
in a two-bedroom apartment
that was about 1,070 square feet altogether.
I would spend the next 12 years of my life
there. The apartment complex was called
Quail Ridge and located in the suburban
town of Plainsboro. These are the only state-
ments I can make about the place where I
grew up that aren't muddled by conflicting
emotions. The front door was both a cheerful
cherry red as well as a mocking vermillion.
The cube-shaped bedrooms were
both comforting and suffocating.
The living room was a soothing
creme on lazy Sunday afternoons
but an apathetic beige on angry
Friday nights. I rarely called the
place home. It was either my
apartment or simply Quail Ridge
when I described it.
As a 6-year-old, the words
Quail Ridge evoked images of
sharp-eyed quails roosting far
above on the roofs of the build-
ings. I imagined that they spent
their time watching and observ-
ing those below them mercilessly.
It was difficult to tell to what kind
of conclusions they came to from
their observations. These quails
had indiscernible expressions
much like my new classmates
in Mrs. Hansen's second-grade
class. My apartment became the
physical manifestation of all that
was foreign to me in America -
the blue-eyed children, the funny
language and odd food. My house
in Dhaka was a rectangular, pale pink build-
ing sandwiched snugly between a weathered,
mustard-yellow house and an unfinished
seven-story apartment. The apartments
in Plainsboro were surreal in comparison.
Quail Ridge was rows of buildings with red-
shingled roofs and woodenbalconies. I would
wander with my mom through the neighbor-
hood and stare in bewilderment at the uni-
formity of it all. My first month in Plainsboro,
I had trouble remembering which one of the
buildings I was supposed to go to. We had
little furniture and had more take-out than I
ever thought my mom would allow. All of this
led me to the conclusion that this was all a
long vacation. For an extended holiday, I con-
cluded that the apartment was an acceptable
hotel. Home was the house where I woke up
to the noise of construction every morning.
The idea of a holiday was squashed when
I was enrolled into school. I counted down
the days until I could return for the sum-
mer to Bangladesh in June and cried every

August when I was forced to leave. I told
everyone that I went to study in America
and thus could only come home once every
nine months. This pattern continued on for
a while even when I began to notice that
I seemed to have less and less in common
with my friends in Bangladesh each year I
visited. We were living different lifestyles. I
was learning about the American Revolution
and they were learning about the Bangladesh
Liberation War. I used a washing machine
and they had maids. Because of my half-com-

only meant to be placeholders for something
nicer at the "new house." Days congealed
into months and months into years and we
were still living in Quail Ridge. Yet, in those
12 years, we did not change our attitudes
towards the apartment. Explanations, ratio-
nales and excuses were given for why we
had outstayed all of our neighbors and even
the complex's managment companies. The
apartment was small and crowded for a fam-
ily of five. Things like money and jobs always
seemed to get in the way of obtaining another

long existence at Quail Ridge was scattered
everywhere. The wall next to the TV was
marked with a small line of wobbly pencil
marks indicating my long held aspirations of
one day becomingasix-feet tall. The taupe car-
pet in front of my parent's bedroom door was
stained by greenish blue splatters, evidence
of a nine-year-old's attempt to be Van Gogh.
Although the number of bedrooms and
bathrooms in Quail Ridge are the only things
I can describe that aren't entangled with
a slew of emotions, it's all I know about the
new place my parents are mov-
ing to. I don't know how the color
of the front door or the shape of
the room will make me feel. The-
introduction of a foreign loca-
tion makes me want to romanti-
cize what that small apartment
in the quiet town of Plainsboro
meant to me. But as much I want
to pretend as though I always
loved Quail Ridge, I know this
is far from the truth. Home is a
far more malleable concept than
I ever let myself think it could be.
Home has a variety of traditional
definitions. It can be the location
a person originates from or the
place where someone resides.
Home can also be a feeling of
being in harmony with one's sur-
roundings.
Quail Ridge isn't the place
where I amfromnoris itthe place
where I am currently living. My
living environment there was
usually inharmonious. When I
was younger, calling Quail Ridge
home meant that I was rejecting my past and
Bangladeshi roots. As I grew older, I didn't
want to embrace the place because my feel-
ings were at odds with the rest of my family.
My parents didn't consider Quail Ridge home
and neither did my brothers. For my par-
ents, it was a daily reminder of everything
they hadn't accomplished. To my brothers,
it only brought back memories of too many
toothbrushes in the bathroom and endless
shouting in the living room. Would calling
Quail Ridge home mean that I wasn't being
supportive of my parent's hopes or that I was
pretending it didn't hold ugly memories? I
realize now that accepting Quail Ridge aswv
home means I am finally comfortable being
a Bangladeshi American. It means accepting
that home for me is where I have experienced
both painful events but also wonderful ones,
like learning how to read an entire book on
my own or discovering my love for painting.
Tanaz is an LSA sophomore.

ALLISON FARRAND/Daly
Isa senior joanna rew pairs a military green jacket with leather
shoulder pads with black skinny jeans.

created clothing for the powerful
women they were inspired by.
But this trend is hardly new.
In World War I, British soldiers
needed coats to keep them warm
in the trenches, and Thomas
Burberry is credited for design-
ing the first ever trench coat. By
the 1940s, the trench coat was
deemed a stylish piece. Since
then, military-inspired styles

have been seen on the runway,
from U.S. army jackets in the
1970s to combat boots in the
1990s.
Military style today has been
stripped of any meaning in sup-
port of the military (if anything,
it's most likely ironic); instead,
military-inspired clothing
makes a very specific feminist
statement when it comes to fash-

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,
n
z
D
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pleted education in Bangladesh and my lack
of practice, I slowly forgot how to read and
write Bengali. Quail Ridge became a place
where I didn't have to be ashamed because I
couldn't read the street signs and where my
friends didn't giggle at the notion of living in
apartments that looked like everyone else's.
After a few years in America, my parents
sold our house in Bangladesh to distant rela-
tives. Soon my relatives referred to it as their
home. If the house in Dhaka was no longer
my home, then why didn't that make Quail
Ridge my home by default? Quail Ridge was
supposed to be a transitional place for us, or
at least that is how my parents had planned
it. We never bothered painting the rooms
because it was accepted that we would be
moving out soon. My mom never bothered
to fully decorate the apartment. "I'll get
this when we get our new house," was the
line every time we went to Home Depot or
Lowe's. The sofas, the curtains and even the
dishes we bought for the apartment were all

apartment. The countless disappointments
became the main source of contention for my
family. They became bitter and exhausted.
The apartment mocked my parent's aspira-
tions of having lifestyle as comfortable and
accommodating in America as they had in
Bangladesh.
While my parents spent their days dream-
ing of a pale pink home in America, my
brothers quickly abandoned Quail Ridge.
They were both in college by the time I was
ten. After graduation, they wasted no time
finding places of their own. Quail Ridge was
regarded as a location where they briefly
stayed and a place where they didn't want to
particularly return to.
After I finished high school, my parents
finally found a new place. As I packed for
college and put away the rest of my things in
assorted cardboard boxes, I was surprised by
the sheer number of dusty, dog-eared chapter
books and crumpled science projects appear-
ing from the depths of my closet. Proof of my

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