This blog post could hypothetically be very short. I can easily tell you that no, you shouldn’t wear a bindi, and yes, wearing a bindi is a prime example of a term we throw around often these days—cultural appropriation. But I think it’s important, for the few people that read my blog, to know why it’s fucked up to adorn your forehead with a stick-on bindi in an attempt to make a “style statement.”
Okay, so what even is cultural appropriation in the first place? I tried my best to find a valid dictionary definition, but because we all know those are often bullshit (see the dictionary definition of racism compared to what the actual definition of racism is) I searched for a more academic, “intellectual” explanation of what this seemingly obscure, highly overused term, actually denotes. But I don’t want to bore you with the stuff I found through my university’s research tab (shout out to NYU bitties!), so here is my conglomerated, not-very-academic definition: cultural appropriation is when a more “powerful” culture (ew, I hate using the term powerful to describe Western Culture but what I mean is Western Culture is definitely—and unfortunately in many ways—extremely influential) adopts something of significance (usually religious) from a less “powerful” culture and subverts whatever it is (in this case, bindis) in a way that takes away from its significance, usually making it into some fashionable trend.
I think the first time I was exposed to seeing a bindi as a fashion accessory was through an image of the Australian model Abbey Lee Kershaw. And honestly, I didn’t give it a second glance. My first thought was probably, “I wish I was skinny and pretty enough to pull that off!” because I was (and still am in a lot of ways) a dumb white girl. But after reading numerous articles on this “trend” and seeing that public figures even more relevant than Abbey Lee have followed suit—even the apparently feminist English singer/songwriter Kate Nash dons a bindi in her new music video—I began to question, as I often do, “WHAT THE FUCK DO THESE WHITE BITCHES THINK THEY’RE DOING?”
|Abbey Lee Kershaw|
|Isabel Lucas (I don't really know who she is, either)|
“Wearing a bindi is cultural appropriation 'cause I’ve been called a ‘dot Indian’ way too many times now. An Indian with a bindi, or with flowers in her hair, or henna, or Indian clothes on, immediately gets called out for being ‘unprofessional’ or a ‘FOB’ or in some such way, less adequate. When white people choose to claim it, it suddenly becomes the ‘right’ thing to do. In short: it’s inappropriate for you, a white person, to wear a bindi as long as you and your race continue to treat me as less than human for wearing one myself.”
Makes sense, right?
I understand that there is a fine line between appreciation and appropriation, but it seems that it’s mostly white, err, "Western" people that are completely incapable of seeing its distinction. But, then again, who am I to chastise white people for wearing bindis? Because I’m just some white girl who has her nose pierced which is essentially just an older, more normalized form of cultural appropriation.
Random White Girls Wearing Bindis
(search the bindi tag on Tumblr—it’s entertaining and offensive!)