(Closed) Sister wants to wear sari for a bridesmaid dress

posted 3 years ago in Bridesmaids
Post # 59
Member
1842 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

I think this is a great video about cultural appropriation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT1sTYpOJ04 

It’s not cultural appropriation for someone to adopt American clothing or traditions.  That’s because we are not an oppressed group, and it doesn’t hurt us (emotionally, financially, etc) when they do it.  We (our corporations) actually gain from it.  Many people would probably say we force American culture on people who don’t necessarily want it.  But that’s what being in a privileged group means.  

Cultural appropriation is still a concept that is not well understood, even in America.  I don’t know where people are getting the idea that we talk about it all the time.  Most Americans probably don’t know what it even means.  Younger generations sometimes learn about it in college, but even then, it’s definitely hit or miss.  Many people disagree that it’s even “a thing” or a valid way for people to feel.  But that’s exactly the point.  It’s not up to the majority culture to decide what underprivileged groups get to feel.  If they’re offended or hurt (either directly or indirectly) by something we do that we have no good reason to be doing in the first place, we shouldn’t do it.  That’s just called being respectful.  

Post # 60
Member
1450 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016 - St. John\'s Lutheran Church

Lavender28 :  My confusion about cultural appropriation comes from the fact that it is so selectively applied. Like, me (a white girl from Jersey) wearing a sari is offensive, but I am allowed to eat Indian food and listen to Indian music if I want to. Can someone explain the difference to me?

Like… I consider myself well-informed. I know that it is wrong for me to go out and get cornrows, but I’m not totally clear on why. Me doing yoga is okay, but me wearing a bindi isn’t. Me learning kendo is okay, but me dressing as a geisha isn’t. I also know a white girl who has been learning kathakali for years, and when they perform she wears the same Indian dress that the rest of the class wears, because it would be really weird if they were like, “No, you’re white, you need to wear blue jeans.” I mean… at a certain point, is it okay to participate in and learn about another culture? If I go to Japan, am I allowed to eat sushi and drink tea, or am I crossing some sort of boundary? I don’t have a full understanding of this issue at all yet, and I have spent countless hours in classrooms being preached to about it, so I understand why the OP’s fourteen year old sister wouldn’t be fully informed about it yet.

Post # 61
Member
1987 posts
Buzzing bee

Lavender28 :  Thank you for explaining why it is not really reasonable to suggest that American culture–which inserts itself where it is not wanted or needed thanks to the ‘glories’ of modern capitalism –can be culturally appropriated in the global sense we’re discussing here.  However, I do think that American capitalism has stolen from various subcultures that are generally considered disadvantaged compared to other subcultures in the USA (country music and rap music are usually seen as opposites, but I don’t think it’s controversial to say that both genres have been subject to this theft for profit) and I certainly understand why modern American subcultures that have had things that are important to them taken and transformed beyond recognition in order to line other people’s pockets want to reclaim/reassert the more “authentic” (that’s a problematic word, but I don’t know what other one to use) form of those parts of their cultures.  

marriedtopizza : The answers to your questions are varied and complex, but most leading activists tend to agree that what is problematic to them as people who are subject to racism and bigotry merely for adopting the clothing and hairstyles that are traditional to their culture is that White people can take their hairstyles and clothing and not be subject to the racism.  Indeed, they’ll be praised for being daring and original, and, most problematically, are often placed in a position to profit from their appropriation (while the community whose tradition is being commodified and sold for profit gets nothing), especially if they are famous.  

Since eating [insert cuisine here] food does not generally subject one to racist stigma and judgment, it is not a focus for most activists in the way that hair/clothing are.

Post # 62
Member
1842 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

marriedtopizza :  The video I linked to explains cultural exchange (much of what you’re talking about: yoga, Indian food, etc) vs cultural appropriation.  Sometimes it is a fine line, but from what I see, you’re pretty much in the clear if you’re experiencing aspects of a culture out of interest and respect, and not taking it and pretending it’s yours, or pretending there is no greater significance besides that it “looks cool,” or using it in a way that hurts the other group.  Eating Indian food (yum) does not hurt Indians.  But wearing cornrows as a white person would ignore the fact that African American men and women who wear cornrows can be seen as “unprofessional” or “too ethnic” in the discriminatory society we live in.  

Experiencing parts of another culture starts bleeds into the appropriation category when it ignores the history or the oppression that the culture experiences when they live their own culture on an everyday basis.  

I’m sure someone can come along with a better worded answer to this than I did!

Post # 63
Member
1842 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

Double post

Post # 64
Member
1842 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

MarriedToMyWork :  Totally agree.  The “American” majority culture has definitely profited from stealing and transforming parts of underprivileged groups’ cultures.  It’s a complex subject, which basically shows that “America” is the product of cultural appropriation that is then taking that “American culture” and pushing it on other people via capitalism.  It’s completely understandable for those subcultures to want to reclaim their culture.  

Post # 65
Member
1411 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

This thread is so depressing. So many feelings, so much offence, so much lecturing and preaching.

I hate it when posters ignore the original  post. Surely the only feelings that are relevant are the feelings of the OP who is looking forward to her big day and the feelings of her much loved little sister who is into Indian fashion at the moment. The whole point of the original post was about the feelings of an excited 11 year old girl and it’s been hijacked by political agendas and some totally irrelevant moans about not being able to find a nice coloured concealer (I can’t either because I’m  too pale). 

Please, please can we go back to helping the bride with some helpful suggestions. I think there is definitely a way she can keep her vision of her wedding but also make her little sister happy.

Post # 66
Member
1987 posts
Buzzing bee

leonatigra :  Madam, you gave as good as you got with the lecturing and the preaching and contributing to the off-topic discussion.  I suspect your desire to move away from the general discussion of appropriation is driven at least as much about the fact that, as the thread has progressed, not everyone has been falling over themselves to agree with you as it is about real thought for OP’s situation.  Also, I’m sure that if the OP had made additional posts/answered posters’ basic questions, the thread would have been more focused on her specific situation.

ETA: Also, our feelings are not the only ones that necessarily matter when we make decisions.  First off, our actions, small and insignificant though they may be in a vaccum, can still, in a collective sense, contribute to the perpetuation of attitudes and beliefs that may be harmful.  Second, as PP have said, when many members of a group that has faced historical oppression say that it makes them uncomfortable whem members of the dominant group appropriate their traditional hair/costumes, I think that’s something that members of the historically dominant group have to take into account. 

Post # 67
Member
1842 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

leonatigra :  I think my posts totally apply to the OP, even though I don’t explicity say it in my answers.  I linked to an informative video that she could potentially use to show her sister, or just watch herself and understand more about what some posters are saying.  

I also said “Sometimes it is a fine line, but from what I see, you’re pretty much in the clear if you’re experiencing aspects of a culture out of interest and respect, and not taking it and pretending it’s yours, or pretending there is no greater significance besides that it “looks cool,” or using it in a way that hurts the other group.”  Which totally applies to the OP’s sister wanting to wear the sari because it looks cool.  

However, I do believe the OPs question has basically been addressed.  At this point where the thread has evolved into a discussion about what cultural appropriation is and if it matters, I think it’s just as important to help current and future readers understand the topic we are talking about.  People search the forums all the time.  I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future someone wants to wear a sari, searches it, sees this post, and learns about cultural appropriation for maybe the first time.  What’s wrong with that?

If the OP wants to come back and offer additional clarification that people had questions about, we can continue on with the OP’s question.  But I personally feel like it’s been covered at this point.  What I didn’t think was already covered, was responses to some of the statements about cultural appropriation.  Which is what I was providing. 

Post # 68
Member
1725 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

leonatigra :  wow. “So many feelings, offences, lectures, and preachings”? Political agendas. Irrelevant moans. You’re just full of micro aggressions all around aren’t you? 

I take it back; you are racist. And don’t say you married an Indian guy so you can’t be racist. My cousins wife is extremely racist and she’s married into the family.

The OP can read this thread and tell her sister that it’s inappropriate to wear the sari unless it’s their culture. See, question answered. 

Post # 69
Member
1411 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

MarriedToMyWork :  No I didn’t  lecture the OP. I suggested a sari in the same material as the bridesmaids. And I told her that my Indian family are very cool with everyone and anyone wearing saris which was intended to reassure her. I did not push any political agenda on her either. 

Lavender28 :  I don’t need educating. I know absolutely masses about Indian culture and we’re  bringing our baby up Hindu. The OP”s sister needs encouraging if she has an interest in this beautiful culture. Good for her! The problem is that your viewpoint is more of a white 20something American one and it is honestly  not widespread and no Indian I know would get it. But of course  you are entitled to it. 

There is zero chance the poor OP will come back but my last advice is just let her wear the sari but not too spangly. And enjoy your wedding! 

Post # 70
Member
1842 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

leonatigra :  I didn’t necessarily post things for you.  Obviously you have your mind made up.  But other people had questions and other people are reading this who might not be posting, and if I helped any of them, then great.  

And obviously there is at least one Indian who “gets it.”  She has been posting here, so I’m not sure why you’re ignoring her viewpoints: BubblesandCupcakes.

Post # 71
Member
1987 posts
Buzzing bee

leonatigra :  I know you didn’t lecture the OP; you lectured at and pushed an implicit political agenda on everyone else who disagreed with you and obviously expected everyone to bow down to your opinion because you have an Indian husband (kind of like those American men who go on and on about their Asian wives and think that this makes them great authorities on foreign cultures).  But, like  dreamreve1 :  said, marrying into another culture does not turn you into someone who can definitively tell the rest of us How Things Are; your mere word is not authority and you have to argue out your points just like the rest of us.  Also, one can be married to someone with a very different background and still be completely clueless as to the regularity, functioning, and ill effects of structural bigotry in society.

Post # 72
Member
3114 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2016 - Surfer\'s Beach, Grand Cayman

Damn, the white privilege is strong in here. 

Post # 73
Member
627 posts
Busy bee

busyhbee :  I think it’s a good opportunity to help your sister learn and grow. If it were my relative, I’d explain that I also think that saris are beautiful (stunning, really), but that they are cultural, not costumes. You can share her excitement by maybe giving her some books on the saris, or on Indian culture, but also explaining to her that wearing it in a non-Indian wedding will not come across in the way she is hoping it will. I’m assuming she’s just excited, genuinely interested, and thinks it will be nice, so I’d urge you to encourage that interest and excitement in a better way.

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