Culture And Fashion Essay

1719 words - 7 pages

Many pop stars, such as Selena Gomez, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, and more, have been pictured wearing a bindi. Most people see this as a unique fashion choice, an accessory that adds depth to an outfit. However, this is a situation where someone has pushed cultural appreciation too far. In modern society, people blur the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation; which produces negative side effects such as the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes and degradation of a sacred tradition.
Cultural appropriation has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Appropriation, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, is the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission. When someone appropriates a culture, they are taking an item from that culture and using it without the permission of those people. But keep in mind that just because one person of a culture isn’t offended by appropriation doesn’t mean that other people of that culture aren’t. There are an infinite number of examples of cultural appropriation that can be seen today. Some appropriated items that are more popular today include kimonos, from Japanese culture; saris, from Indian culture; and even dreadlocks and "twerking" from African-American culture. Bindis and headdresses are just two examples of items that are being appropriated on a large scale today. Most often, these items are worn for the aesthetic, meaning that the person appropriating them is wearing them for fashion purposes. Bindis, from Hindu culture, have almost been completely reduced to a fashion accessory; stripping them of all the significance that they truly have in Hindu culture (Bhuiyan). Appropriation of the headdress, from Native American culture, perpetuates the image of the stereotypical Native American person (Keene). No matter what item is being appropriated, it's harmful to the culture. In the case of the bindi, the damage is done through reducing an item that holds a lot of significance to the Hindu culture to nothing more than a fashion accessory.
The bindi has deep significance in Hindu culture. Bindis are worn in the middle of the forehead. This is thought to be "the third eye" or the divine sight of Shiva, which sees beyond what humans can see (Pendergast, Pendergast, Johnson, and Carnagie; World Entertainment News Network). There are many types of bindis, and each signifies something different about the wearer. In particular, red sindoor bindis are worn by married Hindu women only (Pendergast, Pendergast, Johnson, and Carnagie). Unmarried Hindu women can wear jeweled bindis. Sindoor is a red, powdery substance, worn by married Hindu women only. This powder can be worn by married Hindu women only because it’s thought to activate sexual desires (Pendergast, Pendergast, Johnson, and Carnagie). When a Hindu woman marries, there is a special ceremony when the sindoor bindi is applied. This bindi is similar to a wedding ring and...

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