Appropriation creates rage in fashion world


Jacqueline Tatulyan

The use of cultural items or styles such as bindis, cornrows, Native American headdresses, hijabs and many more have spurred a mass confusion over the difference between the appropriation and appreciation of cultures.

Cultural appropriation, “the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture,” has caused disputes that can be seen all over social media outlets like Twitter and Tumblr.

The bindi was predominantly seen at music festivals like Coachella. People took this as a fashion choice rather than appreciating its true meaning and history behind it. Instead of adopting something that is seen as “fashion statements” like bindis and hennas, it would be smart to first research and gain a full understanding behind it. It doesn’t seem that anyone is trying to spur feelings of disrespect, rather they see it as something “trendy.”

What most don’t realize is that at some point, most things that are being worn are part of a culture that were once discriminated for. Those of Indian descent were discriminated for wearing bindis, which are a part of their culture. It was not seen as a trend or fashion accessory until Western cultures adopted it as an accessory for it to be finally accepted.

Cultural appreciation is the learning of another culture with courtesy and, if possible, approaching the community to gain a sense of what’s okay and what’s not okay, especially in cases of adopting a religion rather than the impossibility of adopting a culture. An example of someone who demonstrates cultural appreciation is Angelina Jolie. When Jolie visited Africa with her 11-year-old son Pax in June, she took time to respectfully learn and understand the culture rather than mimic it as most celebrities do.

We are not all aware of people’s lives, choices or ancestry. Anyone could be fascinated with the religions and cultures of the world. The world is a huge place with so many different types of people. If one gains an interest, passion or simply the acknowledgement of something then they should be able to express it while also staying in their boundaries. Everyone has a choice and an opinion. In no way or sense is there a way of making the world happy but there is a way of keeping respect and content amongst many who are willing to learn, accept and respect.

Of course, everyone has different opinions and understandings of the situation. It is impossible to please and follow everyone’s boundaries of cultural appreciation. Knowing this, people should understand to not cross obvious boundaries that can lead to dispute and disrespect. People may still argue saying that the use of pieces from other cultures is a form of sharing and appreciating. Although to a certain extent that may be true, the way people have been sharing it is deeming it as disrespectful.