Ican is a 23-year-old gamer and k-pop lover who has lived in Sydney, Australia for 6 years.
What’s your relationship with your mother like?
It’s generally pretty alright despite us have clashing personalities sometimes. Since we are both very stubborn people, we’d fight a lot especially when I was a teenager. Most of the arguments don’t go anywhere either because neither of us is listening to each other.
Can you tell us a bit about your style? Who/what is your biggest influence?
I like clothes that are functional. I like skirts with pockets and pieces that don’t restrict my movements so I usually prioritise comfort over style. This often leads to an overall messy look that my parents don’t like very much.
How is your style different or similar to your mom’s expectations?
Most clothes that are comfortable and functional are mainly men’s clothes. So growing up I wore a lot of men’s clothing, which my parents weren’t too keen about. My mum is very trendy and stylish, particularly after the divorce, so she’d often encourage me to wear something that is feminine, on-trend and ‘clean’. I always find feminine and clean looks time consuming, and as a lazy person, I never really want to put in the time to look as nice as my parents want.
How do these expectations fit in the larger context of her living/having lived in Indonesia?
Since Indonesia is such a religious country, there are some things that my mum wouldn’t allow me to wear, such as low cut tops or skirts that are too short. Same rules apply to my little sisters. However these restrictions mostly come from ‘society’ rather than my mum herself, as she loves to wear low cut tops and miniskirts in foreign countries. She loves her independence and freedom in foreign countries as she feels like she can wear anything she wants. But in Indonesia it’s different. We aren’t allowed to draw much attention to ourselves. I think being a minority family also affected that.
How do these societal/personal expectations affect your identity and behaviour?
I compromised a lot growing up, so I think that has affected my identity and behaviour in some ways. As a kid I wore “too much black” and my clothes were “too masculine” so now I try to wear black floral tops which my parents are happy about it. I also plan my outfits more depending on where I’m going to, in a sense, fit in more. If I’m meeting my dad (and we usually would have dinner in fancy places), I would dress more conservatively with the branded clothes that he bought me. I’d put in more effort with my makeup and my outfit so that I would look more presentable. In contrast, if I’m going to meet my friends I’d wear whatever that makes me feel the best about myself (which mostly involves low cut tops). It’s interesting that my friends have never seen me when I go out with my family and my dad has never seen me how I dress and act around my friends. And I’m okay with that.
How has the experience of moving and living in Australia affected the way you dress and/or present yourself?
Having lived in Australia for 5+ years, I learned that no one cares what you wear. If something is a bit odd, maybe they’ll look but that’s it. Because as a society, people in Australia know that it’s none of their business. And I love that. You’re free to be whatever and whoever you want. But every time I’m back in Indonesia, I feel like I’m getting judged wherever I go – by my mum, my extended family, my friends’ friends and just strangers in general. So in Indonesia, I try to be more conservative with the way I present myself because I don’t like confrontation, and when I’m back in Australia I don’t even think what I’m going to wear or dress, and that’s so liberating.
Is there a perception of femininity that you hope could change in Indonesian society?
As a whole, I wish the Indonesian society could be less judgemental particularly towards women. Who cares if a girl is wearing a miniskirt or are not doing things that aligns with your beliefs. They are not you, and you’re not them. Let women do whatever they want especially if it’s not hurting anyone else.