Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities
Chapter Nine: JAPpy: Portraits of Canadian Girls Mediating the Jewish American Princess and Identity
Growing up Jewish in Toronto, a city with a large Jewish population, I have had the Jewish American Princess (JAP)1 stereotype as an established fixture in my social world. However, the degree to which this stereotype has mediated my own identity as a Jewish woman is unclear. A few years ago, I sat with a friend in United Bakers, a popular Jewish restaurant, where we discussed my need for a new winter coat. I was interested in the Canada Goose–brand parka,2 which had emerged at that time as the latest JAP status symbol. We discussed the social meanings associated with this item of clothing, forcing me to consider the possibility that people would judge me to be a JAP if I wore this coat. How would it make me feel to be considered a JAP? Would wearing a Canada Goose parka be enough to actually make me a JAP? Was the possibility of being labeled a JAP enough to deter me from buying this coat altogether? In sum, just how does the JAP stereotype mediate my identities? This dilemma spurred me to explore the role of the sociocultural stereotype of the JAP in the lives of Jewish girls and women.
The Jewish American Princess (JAP) is a complex and emotionally loaded stereotype. Emerging out of the quickly rising Jewish middle class in post–World War II America, the JAP stereotype represents the epitome of an overindulged and materialistic Jewish girl. As...
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