Dreading cultural appropriation
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CULTURAL APPROPRIATION, in and of itself, is a particularly sensitive topic when it comes to pop culture and the media in the current age of digital exposure.
Such a case was made apparent in New York’s Fashion Week when designer Marc Jacobs received harsh criticism online for his use of dreadlocks on his models during one of his final shows.
People immediately took to social media to voice their opinions over the controversy, criticizing Jacobs for the use of faux dreads on models without crediting black culture.
Fashion shows are known for making statements, and it is the norm for these shows to exhibit clothes we would never in our dreams imagine wearing; they are more of an art form.
Jacobs was “making a statement” with the dreads by using them as a homage to ‘70s American culture. Along with the dreads came sky-high platform boots and brightly colored patterns.
Jacobs himself provided a response to the complaints on Instagram, implying that he was not even aware of it being an issue, and that he was not attempting to appropriate aspects of any culture with the multicolored pastel dreads.
Because the fashion industry is always challenging boundaries, it must be prepared to receive backlash from people.
However, the point of the show was never to disrespect black culture or politics, and it did not claim to have invented the concept of dreads.
The show contained models of all races, and the style of the dreads, multicolor pastel and in a knot, was to be an art piece to compliment the style of the clothing, which also borrowed from past eras and punk cultures.
The use of other cultures’ traditions and looks should not be frowned upon when practiced by those of different cultural groups.
There is a fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, and society unfortunately often misses the mark and considers many things to be the latter.
Townsend Harris High School’s Festival of Nations is a perfect example of cultural appreciation, as people of all ethnicities celebrate and delve into each other’s cultures.
There can be a Chinese student in Punjabi FON or a Russian student in French-African FON, and everyone still recognizes such as an appreciation of culture and a showcasing of art.
Marc Jacobs’ presentation of his spring line is similar in that he draws inspiration from the past American culture, whether it be black or punk.