Discrimination within discrimination

Not too long ago, I came across an Instagram post of a well-known Australian influencer and travel blogger with over 1.2 million followers on Instagram (who I’ve chosen not to name as she apologised for her actions after discussing it with me). She had posted several pictures of herself in a lehenga, an Indian garment usually worn on formal or ceremonial occasions, and a variety of Indian jewelry, posing in front of famous and historical forts of Jaipur, Rajasthan (which happens to be my birthplace). 

Now see, what irked me about this wasn’t the fact that she had chosen to sport these items of great history, religious and traditional value, as a form of ‘aesthetic’, without shedding the tiniest bit of light on the importance of them, no. 

I suppose it was pushing the line, but even when there was no mention or any informative caption addressing the  jewellery such as the nose ring, usually worn as a symbol of marriage and prestige, honouring Parvathi, the Hindu goddess of marriage, and which according to the Ayurvedic belief is associated with the female reproductive system   or the tikka, typically placed on the bride’s hairline, for the first time on the bride’s wedding day and is an essential element of the solar shringaar (the sixteen traditional bridal adornments) and which signifies the holy union of the male and female, on a spiritual, physical and emotional level, or perhaps even the giant pink monument in the background, for which Jaipur is known and holds centuries of history involving the kings and queens of India; I suppose even then, that wasn’t really what got me. 

What got me was the hypocrisy; the hypocrisy which had become so very evident amongst all this. 

See, personally, I’m the most ‘in touch’ with my Indian roots. I’m not religious and actually, I haven’t even lived in India since I was 12. But my ethnicity and culture still make up an enormous part of who I am, whether I like it or not. Growing up, living in several different parts of the world, and still living in a place where I’m considered a minority due to my skin tone, has shaped me into the person I am today. Now, whether that may be due to the bullying for my brown skin at 13, or because of opportunities I am overlooked for when it is assumed my skills aren’t par with those whose first language is English, is a different discussion, but a relevant one here that drives this anger and frustration. 

What truly got me was how uneducated and ignorant people seemed to be under the influencer’s post. Not a SINGLE comment questioning her actions, whilst at the same time Trisha Paytas’ photo of her box braids was bringing in thousands and thousands of fuming, rage-filled comments, ’ canceling’ her for appropriating black culture and trying to educate her about the history of the hairstyle. 

Similarly, Kim Kardashian’s recent shapewear launch ‘Kimono’ brought in media coverage from tens of thousands of news agencies, influencers, enraged Instagrammers on their stories, twitter trending list etc.; resulting in the name being removed, a change being made; but have you heard or seen anyone talk about Gucci’s turban named ‘Indy Full Turban’? 

The turban is traditionally worn with a religious significance and is an article of faith that millions of Sikhs around the world view as sacred.

The item was first worn by white models during Milan Fashion Week in 2018. Has the coverage for this, in over a year, been anywhere near comparable to the Kardashian’s scandal in the past few weeks? The biggest insult is the fact that Gucci is yet to comment on it. 

It was torture seeing how quick people were to turn a blind eye or be outright oblivious and uninformed about the fact that this influencer had done exactly what would be considered killing her own career if she had done it with literally ANY other culture or tradition. 
Flaunting around in a Native American traditional War Bonnet, posing for a quirky photo at Coachella? You’re absolute goner, might as well get rid of your internet router. 
Dressing up in a Korean traditional Hanbok to take photos in, with your new BTS album? You’re an absolutely trash Koreaboo. 

I come across as resentful and as if I don’t approve of other culture being treated with respect when honestly, I’m just envious. 

I’m jealous and frustrated that other minorities are being talked about, getting the recognition they deserve and the stereotypes around them are being demolished, whereas mine is still being misrepresented and dumbed down to ‘creepy Indian dudes in DM’s’ or simply being cast as the ‘old store clerk uncle’ or ‘the burnt-out math nerd who speaks with an accent’. I feel vulnerable that people aren’t as accepting of who I am, just due to my skin colour. I’m ashamed that there are so much powerful history and so many people of might that deserve recognition for their courage and influence, that aren’t being talked about, that aren’t being celebrated for the heroic forces they are. 

We need to represent the brown community. We need South Asian (YES, Asian. Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Sri Lankan, Afghani, etc. are also ASIANS, they’re literally on the same continent of ASIA) representation in media. We need to cut back on the stereotypes. We need to educate ourselves. 

Because, either ALL of it's ok or NONE of its ok.

Either we choose to get offended over all misrepresentation and disrespect of any and every culture appropriation or we choose to ignore all of it. It is not acceptable to be choosey about which cultures and ethnicities we deem valuable enough to defend and spread awareness of.

We are not going to discriminate within the already existing discrimination. 

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