Cultural Appropriation – Or Society Gone Mad?


Do you have to be from Hawaii to wear a lei? (one of those colourful Hawaiian necklaces)
Do you have to be Chinese to learn kung-fu?
Do you have to be Italian to be a pasta chef?

Well, then… you don’t have to be Japanese to wear a kimono, either.


Cultural Appropriation?

So what exactly is cultural appropriation? A quick google search and you’ll find something like this:

Cultural appropriation is a concept dealing with the adoption of the elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture.

Basically, it is when the culture of a minority is absorbed into society (a majority culture). However, it’s not quite so simple. If you go to Wikipedia, you’ll also find this quote.

” Cultural appropriation differs from acculturation, assimilation, or cultural exchange in that this appropriation is a form of colonialism: cultural elements are copied from a minority culture by members of a dominant culture, and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context—sometimes even against the expressly stated wishes of members of the originating culture.


Cultural Appropriation in the Media?

I do believe preserving culture is extremely important, but wouldn’t it be going too far to stop people from enjoying another culture?

I don’t think the average person is worried about cultural appropriation, but from time to time, it does pop up in the media.

We had Avril Lavigne with her ‘Hello Kitty’ song a little while back. A few days ago, we had the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest who wore a Japanese kimono dress while performing (Isreal’s Netta Barzilai).


Is it really that bad?

While I admit cultural appropriation is a thing and it is something to be careful about, are we not pushing things a little too far now?

Sure, the kimono dress is part of Japan’s culture, but culture isn’t meant to stay trapped in a box. It spreads and it adapts in order to survive. It’s precisely because of culture spreading far and wide, that our countries are what they are today.

If you ask a Japanese person if foreigners can wear kimono or do other cultural related activities, they will reply: “yes, of course. Why wouldn’t they be able to?”.

If it is a real kimono, worn in the correct way, with nothing that is disrespectful to the culture, then I can’t take any of this ‘cultural appropriation’ stuff seriously.


cultural appropriation                                                                        (A caucasian with dreadlocks)

Where is Society Going?

Do we now live in a world where we are no longer free to wear what we want? Are we not allowed to show we like something by wearing it? Are we unable to speak freely on the off-chance we insult someone by saying something they don’t agree with? Or are we losing sight of what we are actually aiming for? – a free, fair, and multicultural society that co-exists in peace?

On a final note, I am not an expert in cultural appropriation, and I dare say my knowledge of it is even lacking. I’m still prepared to be swayed on this whole cultural appropriation thing, so let me know your opinion down in the comments.