Be Respectful Of Other Cultures


Cultural appropriation versus appreciation is a very simple contrast, but still a very debatable topic in the media.

Cultural appropriation is the act of taking a culture that one does not belong to, and using it for their own benefit. Cultural appreciation is taking the time and effort to learn about a culture that is not your own.

An act of cultural appropriation I often see every Halloween is someone dressing up in cultural clothes of another culture. This is disrespectful because it takes all the meaning out of the overall culture, and is instead used as a costume.

Even from working in a Halloween store, it is bizarre to see costumes like ninjas, Day of the Dead attire, and even mock Native American attire. It is even more bizarre to know that people actually purchase those costumes, as well.

I obviously know that not everyone has cruel intentions and may just like the aesthetic. However, it is difficult to know if they are using that aesthetic with appreciation or appropriation.

That is why I believe it is best to just stray away from dressing up as a different culture, and just educate yourself about that culture. Educating yourself shows you show respect and is aware that costumes are not the accurate representation of one’s culture.

My mother and I loved the movie, “Coco,” which is about the Day of the Dead; the celebration of Mexicans to honor their ancestors! That movie educated me so much, and made me aware of how beautiful the celebration is.

That would be an example of culture appreciation. If I were to ignore the total meaning of the celebration and bought a costume; that would be cultural appropriation. Like I mentioned, educating yourself teaches you that no one’s culture is a costume.

I have seen beautiful demonstrations of cultural appreciation from interracial couples, and even TikTok videos of dancers learning another dance from a different culture.

If you are attempting to learn another culture, it is important to understand the meaning behind it. You could simply listen to someone belonging to that culture, to open your eyes of what you want to acknowledge.

From being on social media, I encounter that cultural appropriation is often ignored and just recently have people been put in their place.

Even recently, where pictures of models are being posted in them in Ao Dais, a Vietnamese long garment, pushing their eyes back with their fingers to mock asian-like monolids.

Ao Dais are clothing that represents history. Sexualising that clothing makes it seem like it is just a dress with a pretty design. I have seen so many big brands make their versions of it as well, totally missing the point of the garment.

While I am not Vietnamese, this appropriation towards overall asians is very normalized in the media. Even growing up as a little girl and being mocked for my eyes, and seeing it be brushed off in the media is a disgrace.

From having kids go up to me and saying, “Oh, now we are twins!” when they pull their eyes back, makes you realize you would never want that for another child.

This is not them appreciating my culture of me being asian. This is them using my features to their advantage.

The culture of my peers and I may be dishonored, but we would never want another culture to be stripped away of its history and beauty.

I am very proud of my eyes and cultural clothing. Everyone deserves to be. It is what makes us unique and no one should take that trait away from you. Nor, disrespect it.

There are so many examples where people have experienced culture appropriation first hand, virtually, or mentally. Yet no one seems to point it out when it happens.

A line to never cross is to all around never treat another culture lesser than. Every culture is beautiful in its own way, and being able to see how much it means to its people is the bigger picture.

Growing up in such a diverse area of Las Vegas, has taught me so much about different cultures and I am still learning to this day! It is always best to be respectful, to be respected.

If you would not want your culture to be under-appreciated, then do not do something you would not like recieving back. Continue learning about cultures and find what makes this world so diverse!