Katy Perry recently apologised and acknowledged that she “did it wrong” regarding two separate performances where she was accused of cultural appropriation. Performing at the American Music Awards in 2013, Perry dressed as a geisha and wore a full kimono, tabi socks, lacquered hair, geiko pancake, and heavily powdered her face.
And recently, for her video “This is How We Do,” the singer sported cornrows in her hair. “I won’t ever understand some of those things because of who I am — I will never understand, but I can educate myself, and that’s what I’m trying to do along the way,” Perry said in a podcast interview.
Perry is not the only one who has worn cornrows, one of the first celebs to wear the hairstyle was Bo Derek.
As our world becomes more interconnected, we are exposed to different cultures, traditions, and customs. It provides opportunities to learn about these different perspectives and engage in a mutual exchange of ideas. However, this also raises questions about cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. This article aims to explore the differences between the two and provide insights on how to better understand and embrace various cultural practices.
Cultural appropriation is defined as the act of taking or using elements from another culture without understanding or respecting their origin or without permission from the people who belong to that culture. It often refers to a dominant culture taking aspects from a minority culture without understanding or acknowledging the significance these elements hold within that community. This can lead to distorted representations of that culture and may perpetuate negative stereotypes.
Examples of cultural appropriation can be seen in fashion, music, food, and even Halloween costumes. For instance, wearing indigenous headdresses at music festivals, sporting bindis as trendy accessories, or exploiting sacred religious symbols could all be considered acts of cultural appropriation.
On the other hand, cultural appreciation refers to the genuine interest in learning about other cultures and valuing their customs, beliefs, and practices. This involves recognising the beauty and diversity of different cultures while showing respect for their historical context, symbols, and traditions.
An example of cultural appreciation would be attending a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, recognising its rich history and symbolism while participating with reverence.
Navigating between cultural appropriation & cultural appreciation
1. Educate yourself: Before participating in or adopting elements from another culture, make sure you understand their historical context and significance.
2. Engage with members of the culture: Connect with people from that culture to better comprehend their views on sharing specific aspects of their traditions.
3. Be mindful and respectful: Always be mindful of your actions and prioritise respect when engaging with someone else’s culture. Stay open to feedback and be willing to learn in case an aspect may be misinterpreted.
Understanding the differences between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation is crucial for promoting cross-cultural understanding, inclusivity, and respect. By developing a deeper awareness of various cultures, we can appreciate the diversity the world has to offer and foster global connections that celebrate our shared humanity.