Bindis, headdresses and tribal print! Oh my! This year’s trends rolled out of everyone’s favorite overpriced music festival and have not failed to offend, belittle and overall just degrade entire groups of people and their cultural traditions. Why respect someone when their heritage is on sale at Urban Outfitters for $50? (Ooooh! It’s on sale!)
So many of the pictures I see coming out of Coachella (which dictates a lot of what will be on trend for the upcoming spring and summer seasons) are of white people in bindis and First Nationer headdresses. Similar to last year (when white people were wearing headdresses and kimonos for Halloween) my reaction to this trifling behavior on the part of my people was to close my laptop and go read a book to soothe my rage.
This year is different; there have been countless articles and campaigns discussing cultural appropriation! What the heck are people doing still wearing headdresses and bindis?! Take that dot off your forehead and put down the peace pipe, white people, you’re done here.
Many high priced stores are stocked to the gills with “tribal” print clothing and feather accessories. It is wrong to sell prepackaged versions of people’s cultures! It takes something important and meaningful and turns it into a fetishized object. The writer Adrienne K statesdon her website nativeappropriations.com:
“The image of a warbonnet and warpaint wearing Indian is one that has been created and perpetuated by Hollywood and only bears minimal resemblance to traditional regalia of Plains tribes.” She continued, “It furthers the stereotype that Native peoples are one monolithic culture, when in fact there are 500+ distinct tribes with their own cultures.”
To wear a warbonnet means you are drawing upon harmful stereotypes as well as demeaning an entire group of people. Stop it.
“It’s innapropriate,” said second year Bridget Geraghty, on the subject of white people wearing warbonnets. She continued, “I feel the same way about dream catchers and the football team the Washington Redskins. It’s just wrong and insulting to the people who are a part of the Native American culture.”
Many celebrities like the Kardashians, Selena Gomez, etc. were spotted with bindis on their foreheads while at Coachella, as well as outside of Coachella. Lady Gaga has been spotted sporting a burqa lately. The mind reels. Just because a famous person does something does not make it OK. Case and point Justin Bieber.
Stop treating the world’s cultures like a decontextualized buffet you can just pick and choose from at your leisure. People are mocked and murdered for what is taken as a simple trend by those who are privileged enough to view it as such. Stop thinking that being half Irish, one-eighth Polish, one-eighth Norwegian, and one-quarter French means you know a thing about multiculturalism or being multiethnic. Still privileged.
Stop fetishizing people’s cultures and heritages.
Sarah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.