Cultural Appreciation vs. Cultural Appropriation



'My culture is not your prom dress.


A personal viewpoint. From once being ridiculed for having a ‘Bindi’ on my forehead to it being the new ‘trend’. For once putting coconut oil in my hair, for it being the revelation of 2021's ‘new hair solution’. Or now having turmeric in your chai tea latte from Starbucks to help with digestion, because "That’s what an influencer said." My question is, why are you having it now?


The origin


Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion. As a Hindu growing up in England, I found that our culture and beliefs were deeply embedded within Western society. Ironically, most people “Didn’t realize where these ideas originally came from and unknowingly appropriated them.”


As many cultures from varying places since the beginning of colonialism to the globalisation of the 20th century has seen cultural hybridity. The impact this means more privileged communities had begun to adopt designs and trends from oppressed or ridiculed communities without credit or compensation. The Western world takes Hindu ideologies and making it ‘their own’ while diminishing the religion on a systemic level. This behaviour is given the term ‘white washing’.


Personal experience


From a young age, coming from a Hindu background, our ethic origins of skincare, henna and mediation have benefited our health and those around us too. Those who choose to listen to our techniques of yoga and meditation can help one’s health and mind. But why has it become a trend now?


It may have been difficult to change perception and broaden horizons. Learning techniques from other cultures may have disrupted what you already have going on for yourself. It might be fear and therefore ridiculing seems the easier option.


I personally don’t take offence if someone wore a ‘Sari’ to prom. The beauty of the patterns, they way it is placed together, the plaiting technique used to weave the material around your fingers, from an ordinary piece of material to a woven piece of magic. From start to finish, it's beautiful.


Cultural appreciation vs cultural appropriation


I would like to emphasise that you don’t need to be Hindu to practice our principles. As it is important to understand that cultural appreciation is seeking an understanding and learning of accurate information about another culture, and respecting where their beliefs come from. On the other hand cultural appropriation is when you cherry pick ideas from another culture for your own personal interest while discarding that culture.


Society


By striving for inclusion and breaking down these barriers of oppression and exclusion, the awareness of cultural origins and the beauty in which they are “Portrayed, borrowed or adopted, or still celebrated amongst the original communities, could help to make fashion a more vibrant, immersive, inclusive and celebratory experience for all."