SOOOO I am an International Studies. We had to write a short research assignment on a cultural event or movement that is happening and is being aided by the use of technology. This is something that I find super important and interesting. This is the essay I just turned in on the #reclaimthebindi movement. I’ll probably post my other essays also because otherwise they are just going to sit on my hard-drive and that serves no one. There is so much that I didn’t go into or cover because of the length requirement of the paper and this is surely not the best essay I have written to date, but I hope that you learn something! These issues go so far past just culturally appropriating the dress of an ethnic group, and into the ways that we view and treat people all over the globe. Feel free to comment or share it or whatever, I love hearing opinions, just don’t copy it and use it for your International Studies class. That’s plagiarism. Thanks.
April 28, 2015
Reclaim the Bindi
Reclaim the Bindi is a movement that has been started recently via the internet and social media. It is a call-out to celebrities, fashion designers, festival-goers, and other women across the board that insult and offend other cultures, both intentionally and unintentionally. The use of technology has helped these women have their voices heard. Reclaim the Bindi “calls for an immediate stop to the use of cultural, religious and spiritual clothing, accessories, and decorations by people who do not belong to the groups for whom these items are sacred, special, and meaningful” (Madrid). By using different forms of social media to send out direct messages and tweets, they hope to reclaim a part of their religion back from the trends of the 21st century, as well as to educate those that are unaware of their significance.
A bindi is a traditional mark or piece of jewelry worn in the middle of the forehead by a South Asian woman. It has been a part of Hindu culture for centuries and was even mentioned in the Vedas, the first known Sanskrit spiritual texts (Bindi). It has spread across a handful of different Asian religions and is no longer specific to women. It holds great religious and spiritual significance for the people wearing it. It is meant to represent auspiciousness and wisdom in the place of the third-eye center. The decoration is said to hold onto the energy and intellect of the person wearing it and to aid in meditation. In the Reclaim the Bindi movement, activists refer also to the appropriation of henna, ink or paste used to dye the skin in patterns, the vermillion, a piece worn between parted-hair to represent loyalty to a spouse, Saris or traditional dress, and other physical indicators of their faith in Hinduism. Through the process of globalization we are able to become more educated on the traditions of different groups all over the world.
With the rapid merging of Eastern and Western cultures and philosophy over the last few decades, people have found themselves interested in specific traditions that they carry. Recently California celebrated the anniversary of the enormous music festival, Coachella. Coachella is an event held every year that hosts some of the biggest names in the music industry today. Tickets for this week-long concert go for hundreds of dollars. This concert tends to attract people of a certain socio-economic class and mind-frame. Many celebrities come adorned in their mock-South Asian-inspired style. Though imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, the cultural appropriation of these practices and traditions has rubbed many people the wrong way. Women have banded together to spread awareness of this insensitivity. #ReclaimTheBindi began as a hashtag on Twitter that quickly gained speed. It was followed by the trending tags #CoachellaShutDown and the #BindiIsNotIndie. One phrase that is being repeated is, “My culture is not your fashion trend” (Twitter). Terms for this style of dress are often classified as “bohemian, boho-chic, indie”- words that do not reflect the historical importance behind the cultures they steal from. In an article by Isis Madrid, she even writes of the responses that this movement has gotten. One of the most ignorant responses imaginable came from Selena Gomez as she wrote on her Instagram, “Sari, not sari” (an insensitive play on the popular phrase, “Sorry, not sorry”). It is a shame that those in the public eye cannot take responsibility for their actions so that the people looking up to them can follow suit.
The Tumblr and Twitter dedicated to Reclaim the Bindi have been set up to answer questions and concerns that followers may have. An anonymous writer on the Tumblr states:
“I’m white. I think your blog is really helpful. I see education through love and not hate and that makes a difference. I learn new things all the time by reading your blog, and I feel welcomed here, whereas some places I feel I unwelcomed even though I’m trying to educate myself. Keep it up! ”
She points out an important factor in the process of globalization. Without people taking a stand and being vocal on what they are passionate about, there would be no open lines of communication to learn from each other. I think that this approach is vital to our understanding of cultures all over the world. Though people of South Asian descent should not feel required to defend or explain their religious or spiritual practices, opening up about these topics educates many.
The cultural appropriation of Eastern religions is a topic that greatly interests me. In the article, “On Reclaiming the Bindi,” the author explains the difference between interest and exoticism of a culture when he says, “The #ReclaimtheBindi movement was built around the notion that an interest with the South Asian culture should not lead to recognition of something culturally significant in a trivialized manner.” Trying to find a way to explore a deep interest for other philosophies can be difficult across societally-imposed cultural boundaries. Reading blogs and articles written by these women is humbling. Seeing the pictures they post showing their love and pride for their religion is so empowering. There is no denying the allure of other cultures, but sometimes the way to approach these topics gets lost in translation. Thankfully we have access to multiple ways to educate ourselves on other cultures in order to increase the appreciation of differences instead of making a mockery of them. The Reclaim the Bindi Twitter and Tumblr activists’ open-minded approach is a very helpful way to teach others. Spreading this awareness through social media is an effective way of targeting those that need to be more conscious of the ways in which their trends and habits affect the lives of others.
Reclaim the Bindi Works Cited
Bindi. Wikipedia. April 30, 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bindi_%28decoration%29>.
“On Reclaiming the Bindi.” The Kajal Collective. Zahera, Fatima. April 17, 2015. < http://thekajalcollective.com/2015/04/17/zehra-on-reclaim-the-bindi/>
Reclaim the Bindi. Tumblr. April 30, 2015. <http://reclaimthebindi.tumblr.com/>.
“Reclaim the Bindi Calls Out Coachella Appropriators.” Madrid, Isis. April 14, 2015. <http://magazine.good.is/articles/reclaim-the-bindi>.
Reclaim the Bindi. Twitter. April 30, 2015. <https://twitter.com/reclaimthebindi>.