Sophia Akiko is the granddaughter of a refugee. She is the daughter of a woman who is deemed an "alien" in the land that she has lived in for over 20 years. She will never be ashamed of either.
Sophia resides in Seattle, WA as a commentator for Youth Radio and spoken word artist. As a Japanese Greek American, she uses fashion to communicate the identity that has shaped her experience because "she cannot afford to hide". She states in a Facebook post from last year's International Women's Day: "xenophobia has never been, and never will be, part of my rhetoric as I, too, am a woman of color and mixed ancestry. I am the women who existed before me and made me into who I am today - their courage, their struggles, their trials, their pain - but, just as importantly, I am the combination of their successes"
The dress you see pictured is thrifted from a store in Seattle, where Sophia obtains most of the clothing that connects her to her identity. The dress features intricate line work that is reminiscent of Japanese artists, such as Hokusai. She states that because the dress only has two colors but is still so striking "sums up the essence of being Japanese- deceivingly simple but unforgettable."Powerful, unstoppable, unforgettable.
This dress is representative of many things — intricacy, grotesque imagery. For Sophia, it feels significant when she performs spoken word "because it is a visual representation of my mental illness and my relationship with my identity." If you are in the Seattle area, don't miss her upcoming event at Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar.
Follow Sophia on Instagram @sophia_akiko and check out her article on The Huffington Post about xenophobia, Executive Order 13769, and her identity as a Japanese American woman.
"To all the women I have loved, who have loved me, who exist: thank you.
To the working women, jobless women, homeless women, mothers, child-free women, gender-nonconforming womxn, femmes, trans women, women of diaspora, immigrant women, Muslim women, Black women, bisexual women, lesbian women, women of color, undocumented women, femme/women sex workers, international women, indigenous women, mentally ill women, chronically ill women, poor women, disabled women, marginalized women... to the fighting and the waiting women. To the surviving women.
To the women who are and have been victimized, targeted, beaten, murdered by the endless cruelties of this world, we will remember you and fight for you. We will also keep a hope alive, one informed by our grief and trauma and survival, for you.
Happy International Women's Day. You are each a celebration within yourself." — Sophia Akiko