A Treat for the Freaks

A white girl wore a bindi at Coachella. And, then my social media feeds went berserk. Hashtagging the term “cultural appropriation” follows the outrage and seems to justify it at the same time. Except that it doesn’t.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of a specific part of one culture by another cultural group. As I (an Indian) sit here, eating my sushi dinner (Japanese) and drinking tea (Chinese), wearing denim jeans (American), and overhearing Brahm’s Lullaby (German) from the baby’s room, I can’t help but think what’s the big deal?

The big deal with cultural appropriation is when the new adoption is void of the significance that it was supposed to have — it strips the religious, historical and cultural context of something and makes it mass-marketable. That’s pretty offensive. The truth is, I wouldn’t be on this side of the debate if we were talking about Native American headdresses, or tattoos of Polynesian tribal iconography, Chinese characters or Celtic bands.

Why shouldn’t the bindi warrant the same kind of response as the other cultural symbols I’ve listed, you ask? Because most South Asians won’t be able to tell you the religious significance of a bindi. Of my informal survey of 50 Hindu women, not one could accurately explain it’s history, religious or spiritual significance. I had to Google it myself, and I’ve been wearing one since before I could walk.

We can’t accuse non-Hindus of turning the bindi into a fashion accessory with little religious meaning because, well, we’ve already done that. We did it long before Vanessa Hudgens in Coachella 2014, long before Selena Gomez at the MTV Awards in 2013, and even before Gwen Stefani in the mid-90s.

Indian statesman Rajan Zed justifies the opposing view as he explains, “[The bindi] is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol… It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory…” If us Indians had preserved the sanctity and holiness of the bindi, Zed’s argument for cultural appropriation would have been airtight. But, the reality is, we haven’t.

The 5,000 year old tradition of adorning my forehead with kumkum just doesn’t seem to align with the current bindi collection in my dresser — the 10-pack, crystal-encrusted, multi-colored stick-on bindis that have been designed to perfectly compliment my outfit. I didn’t happen to pick up these modern-day bindis at a hyper-hipster spot near my new home in California. No. This lot was brought from the motherland itself.

And, that’s just it. Culture evolves. Indians appreciated the beauty of a bindi and brought it into the world of fashion several decades ago. The single red dot that once was, transformed into a multitude of colors and shapes embellished with all the glitz and glamor that is inherent in Bollywood. I don’t recall an uproar when Indian actress Madhuri Dixit’s bindi was no longer a traditional one. Hindus accepted the evolution of this cultural symbol then. And, as the bindi makes it’s way to the foreheads of non-South Asians, we should accept — even celebrate — the continued evolution of this cultural symbol. Not only has it managed to transcend religion and class in a sea of one-billion brown faces, it will now adorn the faces of many more races. And that’s nothing short of amazing.

So, you won’t find this Hindu posting a flaming tweet accusing a white girl of #culturalappropriation. I will say that I’m glad you find this aspect of my culture beautiful. I do too.

Why a Bindi Is NOT an Example of Culture Appropriation 

by Anjali Joshi

(via breannekiele)

You just came up on my dashboard and I squEALED because you're adorable okay. Please have a good day cutieeee!

Thanks :D

I just wanted to say that I think you're beautiful, and your make up is so perfect and wonderfully artistic. Youre just like, wow, lovely.

Thank you so much <3 <3

How do you get your eyebrows so perfect?

Eyebrows is my superpower.  No special tricks to share, I’m afraid!

Where did you get the purple shoes you wore out to the picnic you went to the other day? They are gorgeous and they looked great on you, I love the outfit you wore that day!

They’re from Schuh and thanks ^^

Saw you on my dash just now and followed immediately! One day I hope to build up a wardrobe as kickass as yours. Keep up the good work!!

Thank you :)

This isn't meant to be an insult - but do you not get embarrassed leaving the house dressed like that just because of the way people will look at you/the comment they make?

I’m not sure what part is not meant to be an insult?  The part where you think I should be embarrassed of the way I look?  Or the part where you assume people will react badly?  People like you should be embarrassed of being so shallow.

The reaction I get is overwhelmingly positive.  Not that it matters.  I dress for myself.

thegothicmermaid:

From our goth picnic today <3

:)

Hi, sorry if it's been asked or comes off as intrusive in any manner, but do you use a primer for the brows? I pencil mine in thicker but by the end of the day, they are always a mess.

I use a facial primer before foundation, but nothing specifically for my eyebrows.  I wish I could help with these kinds of questions, but it’s not a problem I have >_<

Ok I checked your FAQ and I didn't see anything related to my question lol soooo do you think you will ever sell any of the clothes you don't really wear anymore? Like I really love EVERYTHING. You wear and I can't find clothes like that anywhere here (Los Angeles) and I would be more than happy to buy things from you that you really don't wear anymore. And I'm really excited to see your new hair! :)))

Very, very rarely.  I have no intention of selling anything right now.  My wardrobe has been built up over a long time and each piece is precious.  Thank you!  New hair will be in this time next week :D

Personally I'd never consider your look at all, but you pull it off so well. Usually I'm not into that look, but you make it look so good!

Thank you.  That’s because it’s mine.  The fact you keep referring to it as “my look” means you don’t know what box to put me in.  Leave boxes at the door, please ^^

Ste gets here tomorrow and is staying for a week :3

thefrontierwaseverywhere:

Baby. Let’s get out the good china.

thefrontierwaseverywhere:

Baby. Let’s get out the good china.