April 28, 2017 inkmagazine

Fashion Rant: Cringing Festival Fashion

By Allison Oberlin

Coachella began on April 14th, marking the official beginning to summer festival season as well as a series of shady memes. Among them was an image of Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger, with the caption, “Every girl walking into Coachella like”. This joke really isn’t that funny, because it’s true. Cultural appropriation is when someone of one culture borrows elements of another culture in a harmful way that discards all cultural, historical or religious significance. Unfortunately some of the “best street style” at music festivals encourages further cultural appropriation. To be blunt, dressing up as a Native American princess is not a cute festival costume, it is offensive and damaging.

These “hot new festival trends” are normally shown on people who are not from the culture, meaning that these outfits are suddenly interesting when worn outside its culture of origin. To non-South Asian women (and men), bindis are a “fun way” to decorate your face. For many South Asian women it is more than an accessory, representing sacred wisdom and spiritual development. Portraying cultural symbols as trendy is insulting. To these cultures there is hundreds – if not thousands – of years of tradition behind the way one dresses for certain occasions, whereas trends fade quickly and can be discarded.

In an article by The Guardian, journalist Calum Marsh described an event in 2015 where a young woman wore a First Nations headdress to the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Canada. When a photo of her circulated the Internet, people were outraged at her ignorance.  As a result, some Canadian music festivals stated an outright ban on headdresses, such as Montreal’s Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, which attracts about 40,000 per year, making it the highest profile festival to issue the ban. In doing so, many of these festivals try to communicate the cultural significance of the headdress. People who do not belong to the culture perceive it as a fashion statement, in reality it is a symbol of honor for leaders in First Nations communities. The head of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, said headdresses are worn only for ceremonies. He says that, “Each feather in the headdress represents a relationship that has been forged by that leaders or a relationship that leader carries within the community and outside the community”.

Banning headdresses is important because clearly people, even outside of the US, still make these mistakes in 2017.  This past weekend at Coachella seemed to improve overall, with most people opting for florals, neon, metallic and mesh. W Magazine covered the best style from the festival and unfortunately featured some culturally appropriative outfits, such as two white men in sombreros and three women of different races in belly dancing costumes. Belly dancing originated in India but spread throughout the Middle East, it is unclear if any of the women are from these cultures, but even so, they are not wearing the outfit in its intended setting.

In contrast, Vice Magazine interviewed people at Coachella last year wearing cornrows, dashikis, bindis, and headdresses. In the article by Kwele Serell, Coachella goers appeared unapologetic about their outfits. One man, who was not black, called his dashiki “artistic” while an inter-racial couple said they like their dashikis because “Everyone thinks I’m cool”. One has to wonder if these same people would think a person from West Africa wearing the dashiki also looks “cool”.

There really is no excuse for ignorance. If this is the information age, then why are people so ill informed?


This article is from the recurring series, Fashion Rant Friday.

, , ,

Comments (20)

  1. Just want to say your article is as surprising. The
    clarity in your post is simply excellent and i can assume you’re an expert
    on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your
    RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming
    post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

  2. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both
    equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the
    nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough
    people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across
    this in my hunt for something relating to this.

  3. Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.
    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I
    can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to
    begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Cheers

  4. hello there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up anything new from
    right here. I did however expertise some technical issues using this website, since I experienced to reload the
    website a lot of times previous to I could get it to load properly.
    I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I am
    complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will very frequently affect your placement in google and could damage
    your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords.

    Well I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content.
    Make sure you update this again soon.

  5. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating
    it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  6. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you
    shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us
    informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.

    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I’m quite certain I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  8. I have fun with, cause I discovered just what I was taking a look for.
    You’ve ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a
    nice day. Bye

  9. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.
    It’s always useful to read content from other
    authors and use a little something from their web sites.

  10. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before
    but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I found it and
    I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  11. Wonderful work! That is the kind of information that should be shared across the net.
    Shame on the search engines for not positioning this put up upper!
    Come on over and visit my web site . Thanks =)

  12. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if
    you are not already ;) Cheers!

  13. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but,
    I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog
    you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  14. Wonderful article! We will be linking to this particularly great article on our website.
    Keep up the great writing.

  15. I was very happy to uncover this web site. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this fantastic read!!
    I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new information on your site.

  16. Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking
    at options for another platform. I would be great if
    you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.