I saw this post on FB today by a second generation Indian blogger on the meaning of different Indian accessories and why foreigners should NOT wear them. Some of the statements in the post really irritated me.
Here are some of the offensive statements screenshots:
And when I pointed out why I disagreed with this article, she deleted my comment and blocked me from commenting. I am really disappointed that some bloggers are so shallow and narrow minded.
Firstly, who is she to tell people what they can wear and when they can wear it?
Secondly, most Indians don’t know the reasons including all the aunties and grandmas. When asked why, they simply tell you to do it because ‘we must do it.’ Everybody just blindly follows. So, one need not take up this holier than thou attitude on why so many Indian traditions and accessories have such a deep meaning and it is offensive when people wear it without understanding its significance because by that token, 90% of Indians themselves cannot wear it!
Thirdly, many Indians themselves do not follow the narrow usage and definitions she indicates. I know unmarried girls who wear toe rings. So, I do not qualify wearing a toe ring because I am not married to a south Asian and I am an Indian ha ha. That really was enlightening.
Fourthly, culture is never rigid. It is constantly changing and evolving. Many Indians settled abroad seem to be stuck in some time capsule from the time they left India while India has moved on.
Fifthly, really who finds it offensive when foreigners wear Indian stuff? None of my friends do.
Lastly, we have borrowed and Indianised (yes, there is such a term and I will use it though she finds it offensive) so many things, why should we be offended if people borrow our stuff as long as they give the original author/culture the credit? I mean imagine a life without gobi manchuria because it is cultural appropriation and offensive to some Asians!
Dear western ladies – Meanwhile wear whatever you please.
I have had enough of Asians making one feel that one is wrong for not being from their cultures. Offended? No problem, just hide behind the complex “you do not understand my culture and you crossed some invisible unsaid line and I will harass you for it using culture because you are a foreigner and you do not know my culture” argument. People do it to me and I see people do it to foreigners.
Fume in your righteous Indian indignation all you want while I go eat my manchuria 😀
Edited to add:
- Blocking and deleting every single disagreement on FB and posting only status updates without the whole argument is not cool. I have learnt not to trust FB pages and their updates because it is so convenient to delete anybody who disagrees with you and state that people are ‘misunderstanding’ you.
- I do not buy the argument that NRIs have experienced racism while 1st generation Indians just don’t get it. Well, technically I am a NRI for a full 6 years and I have written several times about racism. I definitely do not want to be patronized like I do not know what racism is and how south Asians are treated abroad.
- “But when you jump the gun and think I am being antagonistic, remember who you are speaking with. You know me….Do you really think that’s where I am coming from?” – Somebody who deletes the other side of argument. How can people get the complete picture when all dissent is silenced?
- The article does not state “What not to wear for Halloween”. It mentions a specific incident and goes on to preach what foreigners can and cannot wear. If someone dresses like the devil and wears bindis and says “Hey! I wore the bindi because I think Indians are devils” I would call that racist. Other than that, not like we own Indian culture just like the west does not own dresses and shirts.
- “if it is a part of your culture, who am I to tell you not to wear it?” – Who says you can wear stuff only from your culture. So, basically I am supposed to give up naans, kebabs and manchuria because it is not a part of my culture but what we borrowed and adapted from others?