With festival fashion and season drawing to a close, I thought I would talk about cultural appropriation and your clothes. I’ve never personally seen bloggers, vloggers and everything in-between participate in wearing bindis etc., however I personally know individuals in my everyday life that do so. This isn’t a post slamming anybody, it’s more just a discussion on ‘the white girl’ trope. Firstly, let’s define the term ‘cultural appropriation’. Essentially every piece of clothing has a political or social meaning in some form. But some pieces of clothing have more meaning than others, or more obvious meanings. The difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation can be defined quite simply. Cultural appropriation is appropriating culturally (e.g. religiously) significant items of clothing from non-western cultures, without understanding the true meaning of them. It’s appropriating a culturally significant item of clothing for entertainment and materialistic purposes. Cultural appreciation is appreciating other cultures, when you’re in them, or in that group of people, to show that you understand (a least a bit) the meaning of what you are wearing. I always cringe a little bit whenever I see white people wear headdresses or bindis, for example, at festivals. But it’s more just an ignorance thing more than anything.
Cultural appropriation is pretty much everywhere, and I do feel like there is a point where you just can’t help it. But the most obvious forms, are well… obvious. If Native American groups and Hindu organisations are saying ‘please don’t wear [insert clothing here]’, then just don’t. But the problem is that it’s so acceptable for white people to appropriate these things. A good example can be drawn to how you wear items from other cultures, and you have made racist jokes against that group previously. These items of clothing become so detached from their cultural significance.
It’s participating in privilege, and by ignoring and not respecting external organisations, it’s a big ‘screw you, I can do what I want as I’m white’ to them. Coachella have banned headdresses, and a few other festivals too and rightly so. Appropriating Native American headdresses on American soil; American soil that has persecuted and taken lands away from Native Americans to the point where they are thrust into serious poverty, frankly, disgusts me. To a certain extent, if you are genuinely incredibly ignorant I’d almost understand it, but even then, it should just be obvious. If you are wearing headdresses on what was a previous Native American settlement, could you take any more from these people?
I think it’s fairly obvious what my stance on this subject is. But I am always open to opinions from people! I’m not an asshole that will immediately tackle you down, unless you’re trolling me, then I don’t bite, promise.
What do you think?
I’m Eleanor, a UK Manchester based Lifestyle & Beauty Blogger. I write about beauty products, feminism, mental health and my adventures in the big city of MCR.