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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: N.Y.C.
Gender: homme
Posts: 13,929
I also feel this way with the Indian culture too. The bindi has become popular amongst the tumblr crowd and I just think its awful that girls wear that as some cute accessory. It has so much meaning and history behind yet its now seen as something to accessorize and use to look cool and different.

Daria W.Maryna.Natasha.Sasha.Snejana
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Join Date: Apr 2004
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Posts: 24,725
I find many of the accusations on cultural appropriation unbearable too, and I find the term itself to be made up of mostly nonsense. Sure, it sounds sensitive, but it also implies someone then has the rights or the liberty to grant permission to cultural elements that, for better or for worse, no one owns.

I see where the quick reaction comes from and how it differentiates from, for example, getting inspired by the attire of some Finnish group. It comes from ongoing tension, social wounds that are still open or denial of closure. And like I said in the cultural appropriation thread, comparing any group with any type of attire with a group that continues to face discrimination and has an endless history of tension with an oppressor (which is the one that happens to be reinterpreting and "exploiting" their culture for profit and with poor sense of understanding- and I'm not talking symbolism but simply getting one group right!) is not something that's going to shed much light into the topic, because it's lazy, you can't just pile anything that's 'traditional' into one category and wonder why is this more offensive than the other. What would help a lot is separating said groups and pairing them up by circumstance, and this means, what other group has gone through something similar? does this happen in Europe? has segregation ever taken place, did it leave scars? did they completely heal? does it still happen? (of course it does, these naughty tricks in America didn't exactly come from the Pacific). Focus on maybe Jewish people, whose European experience was a little more than traumatizing, pick anything that looks fun, exotic or just plain weird to your eye and make some cute tops or a new type of politically incorrect hat, do honor it with a few pretty embroideries but never abandon the "wild" element. Even the sole mention of this group may generate some 'oh no no, not them, how dare you', we all know what happened and it gets us all, and in the invisible scale of social... scarring, they're actually not doing that bad these days (which can't be said for Native Americans- I haven't seen them on top of anything lately). And of course there are a lot of groups with specific dressing designers are not going to touch because the tension is palpable, you may as well wear a robe that says 'Prada manufacturer', hell you may as well dress as yourself obvious and risky, and by that I mean modern ways of dressing... the sartorial patterns of immigrants in kitchens, out in the fields and most service jobs, and yes, it is practically the same, granted they have removed elements to satisfy a thirst for what's kitsch and can bring us tears of joy for its exotic splendor but deep in a mind with no much depth, they are rocking grunge. Why is it not being replicated? because acknowledging they even exist would make you think harder when voting, and because even though there's a perfectly clear expression through clothing even in exploited groups, it's too awkward and has all the potential to take your fashion trip down to guilt trip when you can see it in that alley on the back of that fancy restaurant that makes you feel like you made it in life.

So it appears, in fashion: tension, past, present and ignorance are perfectly compatible, a toy so to speak; tension, past and knowledge are not; tension and past (say, Catholicism) works too... tension and present is super offensive.. "you're now being too serious". Racism is debatable. Segregation is okay as long as you don't see it (which is easy- being segregated!). Exploitation doesn't exist.

In conclusion fashion (designers) is okay playing with tension as long as its consumer's confidence in social achievements is not compromised. And that mentality belongs in that good ol' "I don't hire black models because the majority of my consumers are not black". Meaning there's a pretty ceremony around a consumer's wallet... only to call him stupid.

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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Canada
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^^^ Those are great points Mullet... but, if you're speaking of how we, as individuals discussing and coming to terms with races issues, then yes-- I'm learning and coming to an understanding of the different points of views. However, we know very well that that type of thoroughness, thoughtfulness, consideration and compassion is not going to infiltrate the fashion industry. I don't expect Dasha to be educated, as I think someone like her would just say that she's sitting on "art"-- or that she's just being an equal-opportunist, since the original pieces depicted white women, and she's chosen to be photographed with the "black" version-- that kind of attitude... It all comes across incredibly insensitive and ignorant to me-- which seems to be a common factor in this industry. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and not so fast to label her a racist, though.

TREVO: That type of attitude is to be expected from the Tumblr crowd-- but, maybe a few of them will learn something about East Indian culture in the process. That's how education can start: It's no different to me than to see crucifixes slathered all across high fashion runways. Both instances, cultural/ religious symbols are meant to look cool, or whatever positive term you'd like to use-- I don't think these girls are wearing the Bindi to mock Hindus. I feel these symbols of a culture/ religion/ people, are just empty signifiers and don't lose their importance and context because some trendy girls think it's "cute" to wear them. Just like I have no intentions of going into Victoria's Secret and demand that all the kimono-style lingerie be removed because it trivializes a garment that has so much meaning to me. It's tacky and cheap Victoria's Secret: it has no absolutely no meaning to me. It does not offend me.

A photojournalist friend came back from North Africa where he and his team had spent time with Bedouin tribes, and some Massai tribes as well. He gave me as a gift some portraits, as well as a headscarf-- in that famous indigo. He told me it was a gift from the individual in one of the portrait (who, BTW, has the most unbelievable bone structure and the most hypnotic eyes, and would be totally model-material should he live in the West). I wear the scarf in my own style-- sometimes in the traditional Western manner, sometimes wrapped around my head, in the traditional Bedouin style. I hope that I'm not being disrespectful in any way to the individual who gave me this gift when I wear his traditional piece with a designer suit. I don't think I am. I'm much more aware of him and his culture for having this very personal gift.

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