Whoa, SUPER LONG POST.
I have noticed that there has been a lot of debate recently on Tumblr, where people from South Asia have been offended by Westerners wearing the Bindi.
Yes, traditionally it was specifically an Indian or Hindu accessory…but really, what is the harm in people from outside it’s country of origin adorning this accessory?
With this piece I’m specifically addressing those who are (obviously) against multiculturalism.
The Bindi has been worn by Westerners as a style statement for over 20 years…Gwen Stefani is but one person who wore Bindi’s in the 90’s - are people still trying to get over that now by personally attacking others and calling them “racist”?!
Even my own mother used to wear a beautifully decorated Bindi when I was younger (she is probably the reason why I wish to wear one, yet feel obliged to defend my reasons for wanting to do so).
In my opinion, to call somebody from outside a specific religion or race, “racist” for wearing a traditionally cultural accessory is being 1) hypocritical and 2) old fashioned. Hypocritical because you are saying that religion and all that relates should be celebrated by your culture only, and nobody elses..which I believe to be a racist frame of mind. Old fashioned because I am surrounded by multiculturism, and have been for all my life (and I am thankful for it).
* A “kind of related” example; I do not see the problem in Lolita’s. They are a Japanese subculture that celebrate Western Victorian dress…and so what? Good for them! Yes, the clothes were outstanding during that era, and thank-you very much for recognising that, and keeping it alive, you look lovely…blah blah blah.*
The only argument I can think of against Westerners wearing the Bindi, is the ignorance of it’s meaning/symbology.
So, here you go; if you do wear a Bindi, and aren’t aware of it spiritual symbology then here is a website for you to educate yourself with…trusty Wikipedia!
In conclusion; Why can’t some people be flattered, instead of enraged by Westerners celebrating the brilliant symbology of the Hindu culture?
Why is it that people are quick to point the finger/are quick to call names, when in almost every case, there was no wish to cause upset or offence?
I believe too many people, from every corner of the globe, use the term “racist” too freely without considering the upset or distress it may cause the person at the other end of the accusation.
At the next available opportunity I am going to pick up a couple of Bindi’s for myself to wear. I wish to enhance my beauty and hopefully it will help me concentrate. I believe it is a beautiful accessory, and I do not wish for anyone to be offended by me wearing it.
I hope you did not wear a bindi, and suggest you do not, because that would make you racist. Actually, having this sort of opinion and thinking you are allowed to give permission to white people to something of someone else’s culture is extremely racist, because it’s not yours to give away. That’s like telling someone, oh sure, you can walk into someone’s house and taking their stuff. You’re actively supporting racism and the oppression of a culture by both appropriating culture yourself, and then encouraging others to do so.
So amazing that you bothered to look up the significance of the bindi, really. I should applaud you on that bit, because most people just take it as a fashion statement and ignore it’s significance. Wait, no it’s not. -__- Because you frigging end the post saying it is a “beautiful accessory” ANYWAY, so I don’t think you even register the importance and significance of the bindi. Let me drill it into you. IT IS NOT AN ACCESSORY. IT IS NOT AN ACCESSORY. IT IS NOT AN ACCESSORY.
GO BACK AND EDUCATE YOURSELF.
Before you tell me I’m over reacting, let me point out that by your own terms you’ve stated why you understand why someone would get upset.
Cultural Appropriation (everything here is good reading, and I suggest you read it because it sounds like you need it. I’m quoting the most important bit):
The unhealthy aspect of multiculti, where a more powerful culture raids a less powerful neighboring culture … and appropriates aspects of that culture without proper acknowledgment of the “home culture” or understanding the cultural context from which these aspects spring. Examples: yoga, Buddhism, hip hop and ebonics-derived slang, graffiti art, etc.
Read that. Read it again. Read it until you understand it, truly understand it, because this is why it is not okay for white people to wear something of another culture. Cultural appropriation is not okay, stealing and disrespecting another’s culture is not an honour.
Let me also explain multiculturalism to you, while I’m at it: white people taking something of another culture, of another country, and adopting it is not multiculturalism, that’s downright racism because it’s cultural appropriation.
Multiculturalism is when desi families move to Burma and integrate themselves into Burmese culture so much that after generations and generations the two evolve together. It also depends on who’s adopting whose culture. White people cannot “adopt” PoC culture because of the years of systemic oppression done, and currently BEING done (because this is not a post-racial society) to PoC. To make it simpler, a metaphor:
…a thief coming in, taking valuables out of someone’s house, and then punching and calling names the people they stole it from before running away.
Also, when the people come out from the house complaining about their stuff being stolen (and the abuse they went though) whining ‘but I didn’t know it was wrong doe!!!11!11!!!” and then punching then again and calling them names.
And then when the people they stole from get angry going saying stuff like ‘whoa calm down it’s not that big a deal’.
Just because white people have been wearing them for some time does NOT make it okay. White people think wearing Native American head dresses and calling themselves steeped in culture is okay too, and it’s NOT. Our cultures are NOT trends. (That one’s Native American specific, but still relevant).
As for your point about hypocrisy…. look. If someone who wasn’t a veteran wore medals and things that were awarded to a veteran or something, it wouldn’t be honoring the veteran, it would be stealing, it would be cheating, and you’d get in trouble for it. The same applies. A bindi is not an “accessory”. It holds a LOT of significance.
I could go on, but this is tiring and I’m going to stop now. Either you’ll read those links and then keep educating yourself, or you’ll not and will just continue being racist… either way, I’ve done my part. Responsible for my own actions and words, not yours. But I’ve provided enough evidence as to why wearing a bindi is racist.
Edit: also see this.