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Cultural Appropriation

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    • Thread Starter

    So recently I've become very interested in the Indian mehndi henna tradition, and after doing research and being awed by the beauty of the patterns, I've decided that I'd like to actually recreate and design mehndi patterns in henna on myself. I'm a white girl with absolutely no cultural links to this tradition, and I badly need to know if this is cultural appropriation or not. I'm not interested in it because it's trendy, and I'm not just interested in using henna as a medium for temporary tattoos or for some kind of costume. If I do it, I fully intend to stick to traditional designs. But if you all think it is cultural appropriation, then I won't practice the art. I was considering buying a henna kit from Amazon, as although I know this is awful, I have no idea how to get henna paste in a more respectful way. Please help!

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    • Thread Starter

    Come on, people. Anyone?

    Posted from TSR Mobile

    Well I mean it's a tricky question isn't it? I mean, do it if you want to, it's not a big deal. If you want the brutal truth though, it might just look a little silly if you always wear it because henna is specifically applied at weddings. So it is almost exclusive to certain traditions. That's why you don't usually see girls wearing it and if you do: you assume they have either a) been to a wedding recently and might have been a bridesmaid or b) they have been married recently. So I guess the answer is yes but don't think about it too much. I mean if you are really concerned just try to come up with refreshing designs (maybe something a bit more geometric than swirly or try more real looking flowers and create some kind of water colour effect by smudging strategically, maybe use more colours and glitters). But honestly, if you really want to do it just do it. And worst case scenario you offend someone - just tell them you were at a friends' wedding.

    Also nothing wrong with buying it online, you are overthinking this a bit.

    Do it. Have fun and go wild.

    I honestly don't care (I'm from Pakistan). You aren't stealing the culture.

    Cultrual appropriation is one of those things where many people have taken something that is genuinly a serrious problem, but began to apply it in situations where it has no purpose being there..

    The idea of stealing from another culture, truly can be an awful thing, especially for cultures that cannot afford to be stolen from, and western countries do have a long history of doing this, but like many forms of modern equality, the line has been taken from what was viewed as a large problem carried out by big buisness/media, to small 'micro-agressions' by individual people.

    For example:

    A large media company descorvers a great new dance from another culture.. they promptly market it, and sell it, having white people filling all the roles, and giving no credit to the original culture = Bad. This is both exploitative, and robs poorer cultures of the chance to capitalise on thier own creations.

    Sam from birmingham really likes korean pop music, and sometimes likes to buy clothes from korea, and learn how to dance and sing like them = OK.


    A large fashion brand creates a very offensive advert that steals from another cultures beauty traditions, whilst also patronising and belittling them at the same time.. they make a lot of moeny selling it to western audiances = bad.

    Mary from london loves the look of traditional idian fashion and their style of dress, sometimes she likes to buy indian clothes and dress a little in that way = OK.


    A celebrity uses another culture to advance their own position, they claim it to be their own creation, and re-package it in a way that upsets people of that culture, as they do not appreciate part of their culture being warped and mis-represented in a way they do not believe is their own = BAD.

    Beth from bristol really likes Japanese culture, so she starts to learn the language, and dress in a way that she likes = OK.


    Point is this:

    There is definitely something bad about a company or business or individual stealing aspects of other cultures for monetary gain, whilst activly harming or upseting the culture.

    But there is nothing wrong with an individual trying to take part in another culture, or choosing to appreciate certain aspects from that culture. After all we live in a multicultural society where all cultures mix and blend together, where we can take the best of each, and appreciate the diversity. To suggest that an individual cant possibly try something from another culture because it is not their own, is heading back in an overtly racist direction of segregation, and claiming we are all different and MUST act in a certain way because of our race. Which is highly backwards.

    Don't listen to to much that comes out of modern equality campaigners, they have moved beyond the point that most people deem to be a just cause to campaign for. and its very visibly represented in cultural appropriation, where they have shifted focus from big business, to individuals, and as such reversed their own equality and peace arguments, into one that actually goes against the idea of everyone being equal.

    Currently I live in china, and there are lots of people here who love western culture.. I have students in my school who dress very american, because they like that culture.. I have others who are obsessed with england and shirlock holmes, and dress all posh.. I have others who are obsessed with korean culture, and dress like a K-Pop band. Back when I worked in england, I had students who liked african american culture, others who liked japanese and east asian culture, some who liked Indian culture...

    all in all, its very good that we like, appreciate, respect, and share all our cutlures with each other. rather then try and keep cultures pure by issolation.. as well, when you start to do that, you are getting to very questionable company.
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