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Cultural Appropriation: Where Do We Draw The Line? (Editorial)

In the past few years, the topic of cultural appropriation has been a popular topic of consideration. Every culture has certain ceremonies and traditions that they perform, and with many come ritualistic pieces of clothing. Celebrities such as Pharrell Williams have graced the covers of magazines wearing a headdress, and models all over the world can be seen wearing similar items. In our own rave culture, we represent acceptance, self-embodiment, peace, love, unity, and respect. But in a culture that is all about free expression, where does the line get drawn?

One of the greatest parts about being a raver is getting to escape to a world where we can be whomever we choose to be. A large part of that is wearing things that may not be widely accepted in the corporate ‘real’ world. Every time we’re at a rave or festival, we look around and see beautiful faces adorned with paint and jewels and heads topped with headpieces of all sorts. To some in our culture, this is self-expression, but is what we’re choosing to wear really representing something else?

In history, the Native American headdress (or war bonnet) is an honor reserved for the most brave and important male member(s) of the tribe. Traditionally, the feathers on a headdress are something collected over time, after performing courageous acts in war. In the Indian culture, bindis are worn for many reasons. Both men and women wear the bindi with different colors representing different stages in one’s life and special occasions. Presently, people are taking these culture specific items and wearing them as fashion accessories, without knowing what they’re representing, and who they may be offending.

Cultural Appropriation

My friends and I relaxing at What the Festival 2014.

To put it into perspective, wearing a Native American headdress would be equivalent to wearing a purple heart medal from the Armed Forces. That is something from the American culture that is honorably earned, and cannot be recreated. I myself am guilty of wearing a headdress to a festival, and it wasn’t until I was confronted by fellow festivalgoers last year at What the Festival that I got to thinking about how wearing this could be disrespectful.

To me, the headdress was something I saw as an art piece, because it is in fact gorgeous! I decorated it with lace and was beyond thrilled to wear it someplace besides my house, and not once did it cross my mind to think about the history behind what it symbolizes. Unfortunately, my run in with other girls was not the friendliest of exchanges, and it put a large damper on my mood for awhile. However, it lead me to do some digging and that’s why I’m here writing this for you, our readers.

Although we cannot tell you what to wear, we do encourage you to do more research about specific items you might be wearing this upcoming festival season! The last thing we want is to offend anyone. Join us in the discussion and tell us your thoughts on cultural appropriation.

UPDATE

With the passing of Coachella’s first weekend, a petition has been put into effect to ban headdresses and bindis from the popular festival. For more information on the petition, click here.

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I am a lover of all things bass, but funk is what truly holds my heart. Get the tunes rolling and I'll be dancing until the break of dawn. Zumba instructor in my spare time, rollerblading enthusiast, known to rave with cardboard cutouts of GRiZ, non-creepily.....

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