Gender & Identity, Life

Stop trying to celebrate my culture

Why is our cultural attire too ethnic for people of color, but "unique" and "different" for white people?

For years now celebrities have been appropriating a variety of different cultures, and it seems like they just don’t know the limit.

Selena Gomez did it when she released her “Come and Get it” music video, where she was dressed in full Bollywood attire. She did it again when she was seen later on the streets with a bindi.

Britney Spears did it in 2003 when she dressed up in Korean attire for Halloween. Katy Perry did it at the American Music Awards where she was dressed up in stereotypical Asian clothing because she was “so obsessed with Japanese people.” And let’s not forget her “Dark Horse” music video, where she dressed up as white Cleopatra.

Lady Gaga even appropriated the burqa in a leaked online single, apparently about Gaga trying to start a “burqa swag” trend. Yet in many countries in Europe, and recently nearly in Canada, women are banned from wearing the burqa. In fact, in France, young Muslim girls have been stopped from wearing maxi skirts to school because it looked too much like banned religious garb.

So let’s get this straight: people actually a part of these cultures are made fun of when they wear their own traditional clothing, but it’s okay when celebrities or other white people appropriate our culture?

[bctt tweet=”Why are you ‘celebrating’ my culture – when you don’t even let me be part of mine?”]

Growing up desi, I would get made fun of when I wore my traditional clothing to elementary school, or when my hands would be decorated with henna for Eid and weddings. Trying to stay true to our culture while growing up in America is extremely difficult. You’re immersed into a whole new environment and you have to make sacrifices to fit in.

The problem hits when we actually embrace our culture and are put down by white people – and then these same white people go dress up in whatever cultural attire they find aesthetically pleasing and act like it’s okay.

Why is that our traditional clothes are too ethnic for people of color, but “cool” for white people? It’s hurtful to see others wear our cultural and religious clothing and get praised for it, when we ourselves know how we’re treated when we try to do the same thing.

When Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner posted a picture of them wearing the hijab, the internet exploded over whether it was cultural appropriation. It seemed like they were flaunting the fact that they were wearing the hijab, however Muslim women who wear hijab are often seen as oppressed or as “terrorists.”

It  irks me to see that white people think it’s okay to appropriate whatever piece of another culture that they think is “cool” or “unique” – without any regard for respecting the people behind the culture. There are ways for people to appreciate our culture without appropriating. Hopefully, people can start to understand that.