Coachella was a roaring success this year (as always) and from it we have seen many amazing outfits from celebs and plebs alike. Vanessa Hudgens, the Queen of Coachella, and a hoard of other a-listers have inspired fans to wear alike outfits to other music festivals throughout the season. With music festivals comes (for some unknown reason) a slew of cultural appropriation and the portrayal of sexually objectified outfits, objects and symbols associated with cultures and religions. You may think that Bindi looks cute, but that isn't an excuse to wear it.
I think the most prominent example of cultural appropriation seen at music festivals is arguably the Bindi. The Bindi - linked to Hinduism - is a dot or decorative jewel worn on the forehead mainly by women. A red dot signifies the martial status of a woman, a black dot usually symbolizes a widowed woman and jeweled Bindi is often worn as a symbol relating to the third eye Chakra, a very important concept within Hinduism and other religions. Wearing a Bindi in the centre of your forehead if you are not practicing a religion which makes use of a Bindi, or if you aren't from a background which includes Bindis in your cultural heritage means you are appropriating a culture. The problem with cultural appropriation is that often white people of a Eurocentric background wear items like Bindis from ethnic cultures and are praised for their beauty when wearing the accessory, whereas often (especially in the past) people practicing these ancient cultures who wore culturally linked items were stigmatized and excluded from Western society. Simply put, it is an example of a branch of racism and it's never okay. The same goes for 'Henna tattoos' which are actually called Mehndi or Mehendi, as it carries a symbolism not linked to any European cultures, so stay away.
Another equally common example of cultural appropriation is white people, specifically women, wearing Native American Headdresses. Yes, they are beautiful and colorful and arty, but this is a great example of the 'look, but don't touch' ideology. If you are not a Native American you have no right to wear one of these. War Bonnets were traditionally worn by Male leaders within a tribe, who earned a great deal of respect through receiving a formal honor to wear the headdress by their tribes' people. The Headdresses were sometimes also worn in war battles. The War Bonnets are almost always made out of eagle feathers and sometimes have owl feathers as well. The way the feathers are cut, split or dyed have specific religious and political significances. Wearing one disregards the spiritual importance of these War Bonnets and reduces the entire Native American culture to a mere costume. The same goes for wearing any Native American 'inspired' attire which includes distinctly cultural war paint, clothing and shoes.
Here's something that's also very common at music festivals, as well as among celebrities of European backgrounds: cornrows and dreadlocks. Let me say it again for the people in the back: If you are white, do not wear cornrows and do not wear dreadlocks. It isn't a cool hippy hairstyle that you have an excuse to wear to the next trance party. Dreadlocks carry a largely significance religious symbolism for the Rastafarian people. Unless you are a Rastafarian or of an ethnic origin where dreadlocks carry a cultural significance for you: don't do it. Chances are you have no idea what the religious importance of this hairstyle is and you're reducing it to a costume. Corn rows as well as similar styles like Bantu knots are off limits if you're not Black. These styles are an ancient form of hair grooming which stared in Africa and the Caribbean and people of color were in the past subjugated to prejudice and racism because of their hair texture and the way they chose to style it. By wearing Cornrows and Bantu Knots, you're ignoring the discrimination they faced and further belittling their ethnic cultures.
So, maybe you're a little stuck on what to wear (hopefully not), and there's a bunch of stuff you can wear which will make you look like the queen of the music fest season. Body chains, metallic tattoos, flower crowns, and cute 2-piece co-ordinate sets are just a few. You can make your makeup crazy, iridescent, neon or pastel and you can dye your hair and throw a bunch of glitter on just about everything. Holographic fabrics and things like colorful spandex look ultra cool and a pair of kick-ass sneakers will give you major style points, as well a bulky moonbag with a crazy print. It's honestly not that hard to stay in the safe zone!
Until next time
-The Traveling Oyster xxx