he sank the boat he was working on just to kill the captain
British Kitchen Nightmares: “The risotto is overcooked and your restaurant needs new lighting.”
American Kitchen Nightmares: “YOUR STAFF DOES DRUGS ON THE CLOCK, YOUR FAMILY THINKS YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE AND THERE’S A LIVE RAT IN MY FOOD.”
A white girl wore a bindi at Coachella. And, then my social media feeds went berserk. Hashtagging the term “cultural appropriation” follows the outrage and seems to justify it at the same time. Except that it doesn’t.
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of a specific part of one culture by another cultural group. As I (an Indian) sit here, eating my sushi dinner (Japanese) and drinking tea (Chinese), wearing denim jeans (American), and overhearing Brahm’s Lullaby (German) from the baby’s room, I can’t help but think what’s the big deal?
The big deal with cultural appropriation is when the new adoption is void of the significance that it was supposed to have — it strips the religious, historical and cultural context of something and makes it mass-marketable. That’s pretty offensive. The truth is, I wouldn’t be on this side of the debate if we were talking about Native American headdresses, or tattoos of Polynesian tribal iconography, Chinese characters or Celtic bands.
Why shouldn’t the bindi warrant the same kind of response as the other cultural symbols I’ve listed, you ask? Because most South Asians won’t be able to tell you the religious significance of a bindi. Of my informal survey of 50 Hindu women, not one could accurately explain it’s history, religious or spiritual significance. I had to Google it myself, and I’ve been wearing one since before I could walk.
We can’t accuse non-Hindus of turning the bindi into a fashion accessory with little religious meaning because, well, we’ve already done that. We did it long before Vanessa Hudgens in Coachella 2014, long before Selena Gomez at the MTV Awards in 2013, and even before Gwen Stefani in the mid-90s.
Indian statesman Rajan Zed justifies the opposing view as he explains, “[The bindi] is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol… It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory…” If us Indians had preserved the sanctity and holiness of the bindi, Zed’s argument for cultural appropriation would have been airtight. But, the reality is, we haven’t.
The 5,000 year old tradition of adorning my forehead with kumkum just doesn’t seem to align with the current bindi collection in my dresser — the 10-pack, crystal-encrusted, multi-colored stick-on bindis that have been designed to perfectly compliment my outfit. I didn’t happen to pick up these modern-day bindis at a hyper-hipster spot near my new home in California. No. This lot was brought from the motherland itself.
And, that’s just it. Culture evolves. Indians appreciated the beauty of a bindi and brought it into the world of fashion several decades ago. The single red dot that once was, transformed into a multitude of colors and shapes embellished with all the glitz and glamor that is inherent in Bollywood. I don’t recall an uproar when Indian actress Madhuri Dixit’s bindi was no longer a traditional one. Hindus accepted the evolution of this cultural symbol then. And, as the bindi makes it’s way to the foreheads of non-South Asians, we should accept — even celebrate — the continued evolution of this cultural symbol. Not only has it managed to transcend religion and class in a sea of one-billion brown faces, it will now adorn the faces of many more races. And that’s nothing short of amazing.
So, you won’t find this Hindu posting a flaming tweet accusing a white girl of #culturalappropriation. I will say that I’m glad you find this aspect of my culture beautiful. I do too.
Why a Bindi Is NOT an Example of Culture Appropriation
by Anjali Joshi
"Flotsam, Jetsam, now I’ve got her boys! The boss is on a roll…."
Ursula/Flotsam/Jetsam disneybound, w/ a cameo from Mela as Queen Ariel.
Be the person H.Y.D.R.A. would see as a threat.a thought i had this morning driving to school (via poseysposey)
MY GRANDMA GOT ALL A’S IN “ETIQUETTE” (YES THAT WAS AN ACTUAL CLASS IN HER HIGH SCHOOL) AND SHE TOLD ME, “DEAR,” SHE SAID,
“YOU NEVER CROSS YOUR LEGS, YOU CROSS YOUR ANKLES. BUT THE GREAT THING ABOUT YOU LIVING IN THIS GENERATION IS YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW MY GENERATION’S RULES. SIT THE WAY YOU WANT. IF SOMEONE LOOKS UP YOUR SKIRT, JUST TELL THEM YOUR AUNT MARY WILL KILL THEM.”
WHICH IS TRUE
MY AUNT MARY HAD A SWITCHBLADE IN A SPECIAL POCKET OF HER NIGHTGOWN UNTIL THE DAY SHE DIED
the moral of this story is
1. Sit the way you want.
2. My great aunt Mary was a fucking badass.
White people be like “so I’m racist because I don’t find an entire race of people attractive.”
Lmao uh yes
no it means that people have fucking physical preferences that they cant control in the same way some people might like, say, tall people, while others like short ones
for example im just not attracted to black men. idk why i just have my own preferences and i am not attracted to them for some reason. that doesnt mean im holding something against them or treating them badly because of their race, it just means im not attracted to those features.
are you seriously gonna try to call people racist because of romantic preferences they cannot control