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Regional News

FSM women’s fashion and cultural identity

IN the past, Micronesian women wore grass skirts daily, but when the missionaries arrived, island fashion changed. Today, many Micronesian women still have a sense of style that highlights their cultural identity.

In Pohnpei, for example, the skirt is called “urohs” and is worn daily. It is colorful and decorated with various designs.

Click to enlarge
Koin Nethon with friend Arlene Silva.  Photo by Christy Sakaziro Koin Nethon dressed for church with Minister Robert Martin.  Photo by Christy Sakaziro
Koin Nethon dressed up for Mother’s Day.  Photo by Christy Sakaziro Different Micronesian attires.  World Press photo

The Chuuk dress, for its part, is also famous for its colorful and special patterns.

A native of Chuuk, Koin Nethon said a woman in a position of authority wears a traditional dress or skirt below the knee. “There are two types of acceptable women’s wear: the Chuukese skirt which has distinctive triangles in the hemline or patchwork strips of many patterns; and the muumuu which is considered the most modest and feminine attire.” 

Nethon said anyone can wear the skirt, the muumuu, or both together with the skirt hanging lower than the other hemline or worn on top of the muumuu.

The skirt’s color does not need to be matched to a shirt and pants or shorts can be worn beneath the skirt.

These dresses or skirts are ideal during hot humid weather. Nethon said the skirt and dress protect women from the sun while allowing wonderful air circulation. 

 “The art of making these types of dress is a cultural signature and I’m proud to wear them every day and during special occasions,” Nethon said. “I want people to identify me as Chuukese because I’m proud of my culture.”