Cultural appropriation makes its blemish on society

Many people have been unable to identify the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation. Cultural appropriation is when people steal traditional objects from a culture and use it to their own benefit. On the other hand, cultural appreciation is where the person respects and understands the traditional objects, giving it the honor it deserves.

Cultural appropriation happens with many cultures, serving much disrespect to those being exploited. There have been several instances where individuals have adopted traditional clothing and religious symbols into their daily lives, unaware of the cultural significance they possess. 

Many prominent companies have used different ethnic items for their products without recognizing or respecting the history and value behind the ethnic items. SHEIN is an online clothing store that is known for stealing traditional South-Asian clothes and promoting them in their shop. SHEIN started passing off traditional clothing, known as a “salwar kameez” for most, as “Floral Print Longline Top & Pants Set,” manipulating the clothing item, and in turn the culture, into profit. The point of wearing a salwar kameez is to bring out the beauty of a South-Asian woman and to represent the modesty that pertains to a woman. SHEIN taking this traditional garment that carries so much importance is a blatant disregard to the history and significance that come with the salwar kameez. 

Not only is cultural appropriation found in fashion, it is also found in the music and entertainment industry, more specifically revolving around religion. BLACKPINK, a K-pop girl group, used a statue representing the Hindu god Ganesh in their “How You Like That” music video. This Ganesh statue was used as a prop and was further tarnished by the god being placed on the ground, producing a severe amount of disrespect to Hindus. While BLACKPINK may have apologized for the appropriation, they still are gaining money for the music video. 

Cultural appropriation also affects other cultures, including African and Indigenous cultures. In African culture, box braids have been known to signify a woman’s maturity and readiness in life. However, many non-black celebrities, such as Kendall Jenner, Paris Hilton and Fergie, have been seen wearing box braids for beauty, while in many cases a black person wearing box braids would be mocked or made a fool out of. This shows a double-standard in society as black people are slandered for expressing their culture.

Appropriation can send a message to the people of that culture that their traditions are only good for profit since that is what they are being used for. This creates a negative effect on that culture, causing people to become more self-conscious and ashamed of their traditions. People need to take the proper steps to respect and honor cultures, not appropriate them.

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