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  • Writer's pictureMathushaa Sagthidas

Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is subtly assaulting a culture by “creating or perpetuating harmful misrepresentations of a culture or its members”, according Young, 2008. It’s something that I feel need to be brought to light, especially when you see the fast fashion companies, such as Shein which target the western countries as their consumers, are obvious perpetrators of cultural appropriation. However, for me the one account that stood out of the many they have been accused of, was when they decided to appropriate south Asian traditional wear. Traditional wear that has religious and cultural meaning and isn’t something that we wear casually; especially growing up in westernised countries, where we have often felt uncomfortable as people of outside of the south Asian community just stare as if you are an exhibition piece. Therefore, seeing south Asian traditional wear as a new ‘trend’ for the some of the westernised community to keep appropriating is offensive, especially when they sell it for a cheap price and change the name of the clothing for the westernised community to understand what they are buying, whilst completely disregarding the south Asian community globally.

Shein is one of many fashion and beauty companies that have benefited from the rich and vibrant colours of south Asian culture to then make it into a costume that is not coming from an authentic genuine place. It is very clear that the styling does have a traditional south Asian look, but what makes this situation worse is that then have a model with blond hair and blue eyes (something who perfectly fits society’s Eurocentric beauty standards) model the piece rather someone who looks south Asian. This suggests that Shein is creating “certain sorts of content appropriation that could also give a false impression of the culture in which the contact originated from” according to Young (2008) especially as south Asian culture is more than ‘rich vibrant colours’. Industries such as this have such a strong and growing whilst managing to grow financially from the benefit of cultural appropriation; thus leading to a loss of south Asian customers for the brand but also showing there is no inclusivity.

Math x

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