Cultural Appropriation Is Not Really About What You're Wearing
Start writing a post

Cultural appropriation is one of the hottest new buzzwords. But, is it just that—a buzzword? It seems like celebrities and civilians alike get vilified if they so much as think about wearing a saree. I do not think it is fair to claim every single thing is a form of cultural appropriation. However, I also do not think it is fair to claim cultural appropriation does not exist or is not harmful.

Saying cultural appropriation does not exist reinforces the long-held practice of dismissing the voice of the minority in society. This is because cultural appropriation involves a distinct power dynamic. It is when the dominant group in a society takes symbols, such as hair, clothing, and accessories, from the minority, often historically oppressed groups. This is most harmful when the culturally dominant group does not acknowledge where these symbols originated from and capitalize on them.

One heavily referenced example is Kim Kardashian and her braids. It is not the fact that the Kardashians are wearing braids that makes people mad. It is the fact that it is acceptable on a white woman’s body and shamed on a woman of color’s body. It is the fact that they have been rebranded and called something they are not, denying its cultural origin.

See also: Let's Agree On One Thing: Cultural Appreciation Is Not Cultural Appropriation

Let’s say you wear a qipao to your prom or a Native American dress to a Halloween party. You just think they're pretty, but you have a vague idea of where these articles of clothing originated from. Is this not cultural appreciation? The context of the situation creates a fundamental problem. It appears as if you are reducing someone’s culture to a costume. This culture is exotic and other.

Another example of this power imbalance is when cultural symbols become fashionable for the dominant culture but are physically harmful to the minority culture from which they originated. For instance, as of late, bindis have become very trendy for girls to wear at Coachella or in music videos (where artists capitalize on the minority culture). However, some South Asian women were specifically targeted by a gang called dotbusters while donning bindis, specifically because of their culture.

It may just be a hairstyle, clothing, or accessory to you, but it may mean more than that to someone else.

Feel free to wear what you please because cultural appropriation is not really about what you are wearing. It is about the fact that people who actually wear their own cultural symbols are treated in dramatically different and negative ways than a cultural outsider. So maybe reconsider wearing that qipao to your prom.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Olivia White

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets is a real thing and recognizing the warning signs is important.

220067

Since March, Covid-19 required most of the world to quarantine in their homes. Majority of people ended up working from home for nearly five months. This meant pet owners were constantly with their pets giving them attention, playing with them, letting them out etc. Therefore, when the world slowly started to open up again and pet owners began returning to normal life work schedules away from the home, pet owners noticed a difference in the way their pet acted. Many pets develop separation anxiety especially during this crazy time when majority people were stuck inside barely leaving the house.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

368640

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1767458

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments