Cultural Appropriation?

It can be ugly if done wrong.

Cultural Appropriation?
Illustration by Jenny Dodge.

Hey lovelies, here's a topic that needs to be discussed; cultural appropriation. What is cultural appropriation? When does it happen? Why does it happen? Well here is a simple answer to those simple questions—some people are just unoriginal. There is another side when it comes to cultural appropriation, the part where there is miscommunication involved. In fashion we see a lot of cultural appropriation going on, for example girls wearing headdresses to events like Coachella, but what does this symbolize other than free spirits… cultural appropriation. In mass media, there have been many stereotypes made, for example, African Americans wearing tribal clothing, or Japanese wearing their traditional kimonos. However that is not the case, fashion has evolved, and so has the use of cultural appropriation. Fashion in different cultures has been stereotyped through mass media. It tends to give us a misunderstanding of what one wears when it comes to their own cultural and traditional recognition. There has been a limited worldview opinion on how a simple fashion statement could lead to cultural appropriation. However attitudes are changing in the fashion community, many are realizing that it’s not okay to copy someone's traditional clothing. When newcomers arrive in Canada or America, they don’t know about the type of clothes they have to wear in order to fit in. For example, an Indian woman would end up wearing their typical salwar kameez or sari rather than jeans and a typical t-shirt. This could lead to an act of mocking, because Canadians are not used to seeing people wear a sari. Mass media promotes cultural appropriation through movies, television shows, commercials, ads, etc...

After reading "Finding Beauty in Cultural Appropriation" it made me realize something was being ignored. I mean there is so much impact that the title has because beauty can not be found in cultural appropriation. However, after I read the article it made me realize that we tend to ignore why these people wear traditional clothes as a fashion statement rather than a symbol of respect. As it says in the article, “Cultural appropriation when done in a good way makes us appreciate things we might typically ignore.” To explain we don’t realize when we are appropriating someone's culture which tends to lead to a lot of controversies when we do realize. The clothes we wear help us express ourselves informally.

In the age of social media we can't really ignore this issue, so what are your thoughts?

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Valarie Sarafian
See all posts by Valarie Sarafian