After seeing all of these Coachella pictures, I am now starting to realize how dangerous and disrespectful cultural appropriation is.
Simply put (in case there are some that don’t know), cultural appropriation is a term to describe the act of one using a religious symbol or custom for their own benefit, with no intention of respecting or honoring the weight behind it. Vanessa Hudgens and Kendall Jenner are the two biggest culprits of it currently in the news - at Coachella, Vanessa spotted a bindi, a religious symbol in the Hindu religion, while Kendall worn a dath, a nose ring worn during Indian weddings.
Even more disturbing are some of the headlines written about it. Us Magazine’s headline for Kendall’s dath-wearing? Kendall Jenner Wears Giant, Ridiculous Nose Ring at Coachella. Giant, ridiculous nose ring used to describe a sacred symbol to wedding ceremonies. Not good at all.
Cultural appropriation doesn’t just affect Indian religions and practices. It affects Native American culture, when people wear headdresses to music festivals. It affects Christianity, when Forever 21 distributes clothing with crosses, facing upside down and right side up.
Perhaps I’m a bit more keen to be upset about cultural appropriation because my boyfriend is Indian and I have full respect for the customs that come along with his ethnicity. But I think we all need to be upset about it. By wearing such symbols with zero intent of honoring, or even acknowledging, the customs behind it, you are ignoring a history and religion of a people who take great pride in their beliefs.
It is so blatantly obvious that Vanessa and Kendall (and others) were sporting bindis and naths with no intent to honor the Indian culture. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. I’m not sure if they are educated on what either of these things symbolize, but it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t be at least a little bit. If that’s the case, then they are consciously participating in cultural appropriation, but hey, it’s all in the name of fashion and looking a certain style at one of the biggest and most publicized music festivals in the country, right?
Religious symbols are not a costume. Many people I know love to bash religion and say that people who believe strongly in a certain faith are ‘blind’ to reality. To each his own, and I have no problem with people who identify as agnostic or atheist - I have my doubts as well. But I NEVER, nor will I ever, bash someone else for believing a certain religion. It is perfectly okay to believe in a higher power or a certain code of principles, even if our society is telling others not to and letting people who do not participate in a certain religion to get away with cultural appropriation.
I’m not sure how to inform others about cultural appropriation. I think the term is starting to gain popularity thanks to the Coachella pictures surfacing on the Internet. Perhaps then, the general public will catch onto the idea and recognize its destructiveness.
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I am so sick of vegetarians and vegans who feel the need to qualify their food/life choices with phrases like “I’m not pushy, I don’t judge others for their choices”, “oh, I’m not a crazy animal rights person, I do it for health reasons” or “everyone is entitled to an opinion!”
Condemning an innocent, sentient being to suffering and death is not simply someone’s choice. If you agree with that statement, UNEQUIVOCALLY STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN. Let’s move pass the BS and create a real dialogue for change.