Westerners Appropriate the Shit Out of Everything
This might come as news to you, but religion isn’t that cool anymore, and people trust their elected representatives about as much as razorblade toilet seats. Society’s traditional keepers of mutual respect are UNCOOL, possibly more uncool than they’ve ever been before. So we strut around our chaotic cities disrespecting whomever and whatever the hell we want. Because you know what is cool? Disrespecting someone by wearing their cherished, centuries-old culture as a fashion accessory.
With that in mind, here are a few more ways in which Western culture has made a complete ass of itself by re-appropriating cultures and religions it doesn’t even care enough about to want to understand.
OK, feathered headdresses aren’t exactly massive this season, but they definitely had their day. Kate Mossdid it, creepy child model Thylane Blondeau did it, and every university-age girl in Surrey has at some point in her life been photographed in one while high at one of the shittier music festivals.
Originally, though, they weren’t designed for models or sold at Forever 21—only those Native Americans who had earned them through battle, or by finding the biggest Yucca, or by eating the most paw paws were allowed to wear them. They were also made from things like buffalo horns and porcupine quills, and the natives reckoned these materials carried the powers of the animals from which they came. It might be useful to fatally gore anyone who gets in your way on Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon, but it’s not considered good etiquette.
It’s not only the headdresses that have made their way into the wardrobes of fashionistas. It’s a ton of “Navajo-print” stuff in general:
Actual Navajos got hella mad when the “Navajo hipster panty” went on sale at Urban Outfitters, wafting a number of irate smoke signals aimlessly into the air. And don’t even get me started on the “Navajo hip flask.” That’s about as culturally sensitive as Henry Ford at a Bar Mitzvah.
The bindi was born as a Hindu sacrament, but it still got pretty trendy amongst Islamics and South Asians long before No Doubt were even a twinkle in Gwen Stefani’s curiously doll-like eyes. The bindi sits on the Kundalini-channelling spiritual hotspot between the eyes to make everything A-OK. Gwen, that pariah of cultural appropriation, did wonders for the bindi’s image among tweens, a little before popularizing harems of subservient Japanese girls dressed as cartoon characters. Oh, Gwen!
Putting Slinkys round the neck is a tradition of the Kayan people of Burma. They start when the girls are 2 so their necks are long enough for flirting by the time they are in their teens. Apparently, it doesn’t actually stretch the neck so much as push the body down, but to me that sounds pretty similar. But the latest trend can be observed among suburban housewives, who stretch their necks in order to look “as cute as Asian women.”
Instead of messing about with metal spirals, this American device makes stretching your neck as convenient as possible. Contrary to common knowledge, it was actually one of these devices that allowed Prince to suck his own penis.