Cultural Appropriation – where does it start to get a bit too mental?

Cultural Appropriation – where does it start to get a bit too mental?


Mustard tie-front skirt
 | Check wrap skirt | Skirt with tie | Check skirt 


Throughout history cultures and countries have taken inspiration from others in the form of music, festivals, dance, foods, drinks and clothing. In the past travel and communication wasn’t as easy and therefore many cultures lived in the dark about how the others lived. As travel and movement’s increased so has our knowledge and understanding of how other people live, religion, belief systems and the ways in which you can survive. Medicine has grown increasingly and more and more people are surviving. Communication has grown in the form of the internet, mobiles, even postal systems and word of mouth. Again many cultures have learnt how to hunt, how to prepare foods and drink as well as how to build, heal and survive.

Ultimately most things come down to survival. But in life, all cultures want to live a happy and fulfilling life and bring up their children the best that they can.

It also seems that as the years go on there’s always a new thing to ‘’cry out about’’ people take to social media to share their outrage about taboo topics such as fat shaming, skinny shaming, racism and cultural appropriation.

Now don’t get me wrong I am all about equality. I’m not a menist or a feminist, I am an equalist and if that means fighting for the side that’s being treated incorrectly along with the menists and feminists then hey, count me in. But equality is what I believe in. I am extremely against racism, ageism and any time of bullying. I am all about appreciating and respecting others – including their cultures, countries and belief system even if it differs from my own. That’s how we grow – we fill ourselves up with knowledge and understanding about the world we live in and the people we live side-by-side with. And, we adapt, we listen and we apply any new knowledge and understanding.

We’ve seen ‘’cultural appropriation’’ thrown about lately. It seems to be the latest on-trend taboo and while I understand and applaud others for calling it out, it’s gotten to the point where its gone OTT. No longer can we (of any culture) enjoy the cultures of others. We cannot wear similar clothing, we cannot do certain jobs and we cannot wear certain styles – even if they loosely are based on other historical styles.

Fashion has grown over the years by taking inspiration from other fashions. Maybe the same ruching, the same dress pattern, the same cut or embroidery. Allowing others to appreciate the artistic beauties that come out of other cultures. Again in a similar way music has grown and adapted, instruments that were once culturally used are being intertwined with other cultural instruments making some absolutely incredible songs and tunes. Learning and appreciating the differences and where each comes from is what should be happening – not each culture taking absolute offence and kicking off on social media.

Now I get the outcry with the cultural dress up. That is crossing the line. Halloween, concert and such like – its like the culture is being made a mockery off and that I am against, but as for simple changes to fashion that’s already out in the big wide world, I think it’s absolutely gone mental. Call me out on it and tell me why you disagree with what I’m saying in the comments below but take for example the Zara escapade that’s going on now about their $70 chequered skirt. It’s a mid-length skirt, with ruching at the waist. It’s cut centrally so you can see some leg and while it’s modest in the back, its not in the front. It’s a brown chequered print so let’s brake this one item of fashion down:

Lungi/Longi | a sarong-like garment wrapped around the waist and extending to the ankles, worn by both sexes in India and in Burma (Myanmar), where it is the national dress. It's basically what we would term a sarong and can be worn in a range of styles at varying lengths. It wraps around the body and wraps into the waistband. Typically made of cotton but in an array of patterns and colours. 

Taking a look at fashion styles in both India and Burma, it’s clear to see that the people there wear a mix of fashions (from all over the world) including kimono’s from Japan, tartans which are linked to Scotland and denim skirts which originated in France.

Zara | The skirt is a mid-length somewhat tulip shaped style that’s brown with black cheque. There’s pin-tucking or gathering at the waist and it's slit in the front to show some leg - hence why its called a mini skirt. 

This isn't like a lungi - the only similarities are that some people wear it at this length and it has tucking (not physical tucking as this is a secure skirt) at the waist. Unlike a lungi which is physically tucked at the waist. 

So it seems that it’s OK for those not in the limelight or in the public face to appropriate a range of styles, music and culture. But, not those in the public domain or else all hell breaks loose? How about we respect others, respect history, culture, religion and each other and appreciate things for the beauty that they are rather than throwing our toys out of the pram. We understand the origins, or at least we should aim to understand the origins of the things that interest us. Fashion and all. No-one owns the intellectual rights to history and, chances are those throwing the cultural appropriation tag around would be surprised by the DNA of those they are aiming it at. Face value doesn’t count – the colour of your skin or who your birth parents are, doesn’t count. You cannot tell what cultures and ethnicity someone is by just looking at them and that comes to my final point – why can’t we enjoy a range of cultures for fear of upsetting someone? Why can’t we get in touch with our ancestors through culture? Why has it suddenly become such a problem in comparison to five or ten years ago?

Let me know your thoughts on Cultural Appropriation.
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Comments are always appreciated. If you have a comment or want to discuss something 'off record' you can always drop me an email at sweetelysepr@gmail.com