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#125 Hand-Me-Downs

Posted September 19th, 2009 by Peter · 12 Comments

One submission we at SAPL particularly agreed upon this week was suggested by Kat, who says that Asians like: “second-hand things. Or third/fourth-hand sometimes.  I’ve grown up wearing hand-me downs from unknown family friends and relatives.  And after 7 years, I try to donate them since I haven’t touched them in so long, and my mom tries to convince me to keep them or she keeps some of it herself for unknown reasons. -_-” it’s like she’ll be wearing it.”


Growing up in a typical Asian household, I too have experienced this second-hand phenomena. My father always went searching for clothing and shoes at thrift stores (as long as it looks new, right?). Through the years, I’ve also picked up on this nose for gold and have developed a keen sense for finding treasure in a piles upon piles of other peoples’ trash (In fact, the executive chair I’m currently typing on was someone else’s garbage at one point). It’s not fair to discount hand-me-downs because hey, somewhere out there; somebody would die to be in your shoes (literally).

1st Generation Asians are especially given the “hand-me-down” treatment. Let’s find out why…

You’re Asian. You’ve just arrived in a foreign land where an article of clothing costs as much as your previous whole week (or month’s) wages. That’s ridiculous, right? Factor in the fact that you have mouths to feed, a car to buy, children to discipline, bills to pay… *sighs* and a flurry of other things you never had to worry about before.


You would want to try to find as many Hand-Me-Downs as humanly possible. I can’t say that this is the same for all you, but there’s one thing that most asians parents would rather not worry about at this point: buying expensive clothes they know their children will grow out of in a few years (or months). It’s just not practical.

Hand-Me-Downs provide an effective way to make your children look snazzy at a cost anybody would like. There are some downfalls, though. Every asian person you know (yes, that includes yourself) has probably come into contact with the “why didn’t you get rid of these” hand-me-downs. These include socks, shirts, hats, sweaters, and sometimes.. even underwear *gasp.* These are the times that you would accidentally lose them (or keep them if you roll that way).

babyIf every one of these reasons fails, just remember that asians are sentimental people too. My mom always gets teary-eyed when she sees an old shirt or picture of mine lying around the house. These are reminders of a more innocent time– a time where we didn’t talk back.. when we’d just smile at the most mundane things (sometimes nothing). This is when our parents could’ve fed us anything and we would’ve eaten it without complaining about our diet regimes. This is a time where.. Ok, let’s stop going down memory lane. You get the point.

So the next time you see Hand-Me-Downs, think about the people that have handed them down to you. They know what you must be going through and are only lending a hand, not belittling you. When Asians see their hand-me-downs on other people, they know they’ve made a difference. When they see people in the same shoes that they were once in (pun intended), they know they’re helping people who are in the same shoes they were once in  (pun not intended).

That, my friends, is why Asians like #125 Hand-Me-Downs.

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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Vannie Sung // Sep 20, 2009 at 5:34 am

    This is hilarious, Peter! All of my bookbags and computers have been hand me downs from my brother. Makes me feel special.

  • 2 Jeffrey Ng // Sep 20, 2009 at 11:21 am

    hahaha, I’ve seen pictures of myself in my older sister’s dresses when I was a kid

  • 3 ricecake // Sep 21, 2009 at 8:11 am

    All 5 of my cars have been hand-me-downs from my parents or sisters. Also, being sentimental is a problem of mine as well. I am in the process of moving and I’m having a hard time throwing stuff out.

  • 4 Cheap Soma // Sep 22, 2009 at 11:11 am

    There’s nothing wrong about wearing or using hand-me-downs. Up to this point, I still own clothes my mom wore when she was in her teens (the trends keep coming back!) or costume jewelry. We have a crib that gets passed around whenever a cousin or a relative gives birth. I think the crib is around 30+ years old – the first to use it now has three children herself.

  • 5 Leanne // Sep 22, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    My mom keeps all her old clothes (she has tonnes) and she says she’s keeping them for when she goes back to Vietnam to give to our relatives. Even though she rarely ever goes back!

  • 6 Roger // Oct 21, 2009 at 5:31 am

    I’m kind of in-between. When I was growing at a fast pace, I always had hand-me-downs. These days, I rarely use the hand-me-downs anymore, in fact, im handing them down to other people! I still accept hand-me-downs, but am very picky about it.

    Once you’ve grown up and started buying your own clothes, you have a style that you usually follow. Well I’ve only accepted hand-me-downs from my brother (T-shirts he wore when he was my age, but are a bit too raunchy now that he is engaged and in his 30s) and my cousin. I usually have to go to the tailor and get some of those shirts down a few sizes because I wear size S and he wears XL (I’m a skinny guy and some of the people I recieve clothes from are pretty massive)

  • 7 Chinamerican // May 7, 2010 at 9:45 am

    @Cheap Soma,

    As much as I am for hand-me-downs, they say you should not do it with baby stuff b/c there are constantly recalls on things. I remember that there was actually a recall on certain models of cribs in the 80s b/c the slats were spaced a certain way and kids were poking their heads through there and getting stuck.

    It seems nothing happened with you guys and that’s great but I am still wary of these kinds of things.

  • 8 MLB Hats // Mar 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    It seems nothing happened with you guys and that’s great but I am still wary of these kinds of things.

  • 9 Oil Mill // Mar 15, 2011 at 1:43 am

    good post

  • 10 Girl Here // Aug 5, 2011 at 1:54 am

    This goes along with being cheap right?

  • 11 ilovehorseyrides // Jun 9, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I have way too many clothes given to me by my elderly relatives and I hate those styles so much so I just donate them

  • 12 Oil Press // Mar 28, 2019 at 1:14 am

    great points. Thanks

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