Cultural appropriation is when someone takes knowledge, expressions and symbols from someone else’s culture without permission.
It’s a form of racism, and it’s not ok.
Through cultural appropriation, people profit from stereotypes and symbols that they don’t even understand. Fashion brands are really bad about cultural appropriation. Victoria’s Secret has walked a model down the runway in a headdress, Asos once launched a “Go Native” line and magazines like Elle have proudly displayed celebs in spiritual garb. Yes, we’re looking at you, Pharrell.
Even in 2015, fashion brands are appropriating our culture. The most recent example comes from DSquared2’s “DSquaw” line, which merged colonialist and native fashion. We can’t make this stuff up.
And let’s not forget the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver where they had Chinese factories producing ‘Cowichan Sweaters’ which caused such an uproar that a knitting group made up of Cowichan Elders made it on the ‘Terrorist Watch List’. Nobody wants to mess with Cowichan grannies with knitting needles!
How can we stop cultural appropriation? Call out racism when you see it, and encourage people to support Indigenous artists.
Have you seen fashion that’s racist? Comment below with how it made you feel.
To learn about how racism can impact safety, click here.