Selena Gomez’s usage of the Bindi as a symbolic object at the MTV awards ceremony is an example of cultural appropriation. This article was also widely circulated on social media and in art publications such as the Autostraddle. In this case of cultural exploitation, she used the Bindi for a reason other than what it was designed for. The singer was seen wearing this artifact at numerous other functions, and her response to disgruntled Hindu community members did little more than demonstrate her contempt for other cultures. Amongst members of the Hindu community, the Bindi is a religious artifact that is donned by those who have chosen a spiritual path, and not as an accessory (Sanchez). It is worn on the forehead to signify conformance to the Hindu religion and forms part of the 6th command, or the 3rd eye.
My belief is that the idea of cultural appropriation is quite complicated. Selena Gomez’s use of the Bindi is an instance of an individual embracing a different culture from her own. However, it is imperative to display caution when appropriating elements from other cultures. Those items with a religious significance need to be respected since religion is a delicate subject. Having said that, it is equally important for us to demystify myths that claim appropriation of cultural artefacts is indeed an issue. When we bring down cultural boundaries, good things come forth such as New York Pizza or the famous Japanese denim. Also, we cannot forget to mention that civilised societies such as those in the west enjoy discourses such as self-rule and subjects such as mathematics, all of which are phenomena that arose from cultural interactions. I believe it is not possible to live in a world where no one appropriates elements that belong to other communities much the same way we are not able to live without the notion of globalisation. However, it is my belief that items such as the Bindi have much more value and significance when used within their cultural setup.
My Native American culture values the concept of Sweat Lodge ceremonies. In this practice, Water is powered onto hot rocks and the steam created is used to cleanse individuals. This practice is valuable amongst Native Americans as it is used to purify people. I do not think appropriation of this practice would offend me in any way. People gain an understanding of other culture when they interact with elements of that culture and subsequently get a first-hand experience. Therefore, they develop respect for a culture once they fully understand the significance that others attach to a cultural artifact of practice. Also, I believe it is a way of sharing culture with those who are interested in it. There are those who are not natives but make use of these traditions to offer modern experiences that help others have better clarity and vision. This practice is an example of the positive side of cultural appropriation that is used to benefit those who are not from my culture. I believe it is a way of sharing culture with those who are interested in it. However, it is important that those who choose to delve into the experiences of other cultures take the time to understand an item or a cultural practice and why that particular culture values it.
Sanchez, Elicia. Top 10 Instances of Open and Unapologetic Celebrity Cultural Appropriation in 2013. Autostraddle, 23 Dec 2013, www.autostraddle.com/top-ten-instances-of-open-and-unapologetic-celebrity-cultural-appropriation-in-2013-210371/. Accessed 23 Feb 2017.