I did everything in my power to put on a façade of ‘western’. I tried so hard to reject my culture.
When I was younger, little girls used to cringe at the smell of the coconut oil coating my two, long braids. Now, they use that same oil in their stupid and ridiculously overpriced ‘exotic hair masks’. When I was younger, I used to wear a massive sweatshirt over my suits and lehengas, feebly attempting to cover as much of my “strange, eastern costume” as I could. Now, the west claims to have ‘revolutionized modern fashion’ with lackluster replicas of those same salwar kameez (High-Slit Tee Dresses with pants) and lehengas (2 piece dresses). It’s disgusting.
It saddens me to remember how easily society brainwashed me at the time. I used to dream of the day I would be old enough to dye my hair, bleach my skin, and somehow get rid of the word ‘Indian-’ that preceded ‘American’ in my identification. I began rubbing the brown off at such an young age. It’s a horrifying notion that a group of people, who once poked fun at me for embracing my heritage, the people who made me feel embarrassed at any mention of India, are the same people who have the audacity to appropriate my culture. To wear bindis and deny any religious/cultural affiliations it has, is a giant slap in the face to those who were once attacked for wearing it, both emotionally and physically.
No, you cannot wear a bindi. No, it is not ‘just a fashion accessory’. No, it is not ‘a cute body jewel’. Your pale, henna covered hand placing a “beendee” on your forehead may just be the same pale, ring-pop covered hand that once ripped off my ‘weird india dot’.