6 Perfect Examples Of What Cultural Appropriation Really Is

model with headdress illustration
PHOTO: VOCALLY

We hear the term "cultural appropriation" used often. Headlines like: 

"Kylie Jenner slammed for cultural appropriation." 

"Coachella attendees appropriate Native American headdress." 

"Moana costume is cultural appropriation." 

The list goes on. The phrase is used so often, that many simply see it as a buzz word and tune it out.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture

Usually, the adopters are of a dominant group who systematically oppress the group they are now adopting from. 

Here are some pointed examples of what cultural appropriation is and why it's problematic. 

cultural appropriation

Example: Kylie Jenner wears braids, something black women have been doing for centuries, and is applauded for it and even touted as a "trendsetter" for doing it.

cultural appropriation

Yes, you may think that headdress you wore to Coachella "looks cute," but if you don't understand its cultural significance to Native men and women, maybe reconsider why you've chosen to wear it.

ZEndaya cultural appropriation
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Zendaya summed it up perfectly when she differentiated between "cultural appreciation" and "cultural appropriation." Wearing a Geisha costume for Halloween doesn't necessarily mean that you understand or appreciate the culture associated with it.

Nicki Minaj cultural appropriation

Cultural appropriation is problematic because 9 times out of 10, the adopters only want to appropriate the "fun" or "cool" aspects of a culture without embracing a 360 degree appreciation and understanding of the whole culture.

Bring It On

This line from Bring It On sums it up perfectly. A recent example of this are "boxer braids." POC have been braiding their hair for centuries. Just because non-women of color renamed it "boxer braids" does not suddenly make it a "new trend."

braids cultural appropriation

This is an illustration of two nearly identical hairstyles, unfortunately the women of color who originated the trend are disparaged for it, while the one who culturally appropriates it is praised. 

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MOLLY LEIGH

Writer, amateur baker, and dog enthusiast living in La La Land.

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