By Guest Writer Nolan Watt (11) in response to My Culture is Not Couture.
The issue of cultural appropriation has been vastly over exaggerated. In particular, the label of “Cultural Appropriation” has been erroneously used with frequency. The targeting of certain groups who are accused of usurping items of significance and rebranding them is in itself an error. All cultures borrow the styles of others. In a world where other regional expression is so easily obtained, through the internet or movies or various other mediums, the adoption of style should not be viewed as a misdeed. In fact, given enough time, the certain items will be absorbed by society and their original meaning will be lost.
Take an example adorned by millions of people everyday – tattoos. If one were to say to not get a tattoo because it’s ancient technique used to mark ancient Egyptian concubines, strange looks would be in order. But Egyptian tattoos were also used in religious practices. Much like the Tibetan prayer beads many people choose to wear. Those people get called out for disrespecting an ancient religion, but the tattooed are technically doing the same.
With time, origins will be muddled and lost. Rather than fiercely protecting one’s culture, perhaps one should be more open to allowing its spread. When someone who may not recognize the importance of a cultural item, prayer beads for example, why not stop and educate them on the significance of said item? Berating or criticizing them will do nothing but cause animosity and further confusion.