Jean Dress

In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant

Whenever my mom begins to talk about her experience coming to America, she never fails to fish out a photo from our many photo boxes. This picture, mind you, is just an ordinary snapshot of her in the middle of a busy street in New York. Her curly hair is barely contained by her clip as you see some strands of hair out of place moving along with the wind. She does not mention the location, though I can clearly see that it is New York, but she mentions her dress.  "It is my Calvin Klein jean dress, the one I wore when I first came to this country and the one I wore, almost every day, while pregnant with you," is her go to line. I asked her why the dress is so marked in her memory. Her dress, I thought, was just a regular jean dress that she probably pulled out of a thrift store, but the label, its name, is what spoke out to her. She later explained to me that this dress, though simple in design, is anything but simple in meaning. She bought this dress with her first paycheck. She would walk by it daily and say to herself that one day the dress will be hers to own. The name, she said, was everything she understood about America. It was a well known label that costed hundreds in Peru and here it was at a mere $40 on sale. Being American meant buying something to own and flaunt. To me, that dress is a regular dress but my mom still has it hanged up in her closet. I look at it from time to time. I try and see if it fits me as if I was literally filling my mom's place in the world.

Place(s): Peru
Year: 1994

– Kenia Ruiz

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