Chinese Mesh Slippers

In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Mesh Slippers
Mesh Slippers

These were the favorite shoe of my honorary grandma in Belize, Ms. Eva. They remind me of my roots here in Brooklyn and back home in Belize. That joy comes from small tokens & simple pleasures.  As a child I’d stay with Ms. Eva in Belize every summer.  She lived in an old wooden house built to withstand hurricanes, with no indoor plumbing but the bare necessities needed to survive. Still, she lived abundantly. We’d sit on her veranda all day. People from the neighborhood would visit bearing small gifts: a loaf of bread, fresh juice, an item of clothing sent by family in “the states”. Ms. Eva’s motto was “Freely give, freely receive.” We’d send 5 pairs of the mesh slippers to my cousin, who’d hold onto them until 1 tore & only then give Ms. Eva the next. If you handed more than 1 to her, you’d see someone in the neighborhood wearing them within the next few days.  Here in “the states” these shoes were a fashion statement. Growing up in Brooklyn, style constantly evolved based on what we had access to. I couldn’t afford high-fashion items but these shoes were a statement of “coolness”. I love street fashion because it’s often the antecedent to future high fashion trends. I’m constantly reminded of how the poor and middle class are the creators of culture. 

All that said, my absolute favorite thing about these slippers were my first-generation, immigrant mother’s confusion as to why I was wearing “house slippers” outside. The cultural disconnect makes me chuckle to this day. 

Place(s): Belize, New York City

– Allyson

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant