There’s something about festival season that, year after year, seems to bring out the worst in brands. Cultural appropriation has peaked in the quest for Instagram-ready summer outfits. The latest offender? A “chandelier head clip” from ASOS that looks eerily similar to the traditional South Asian bridal accessory known as a tikka.
Customers on social media protested the whitewashing of the tikka, which traditionally hangs from a bride’s center part down her forehead to symbolize the third eye. “Please stop commodifying our culture thanks,” wrote Navi Gill on Twitter.
— Navi Gill (@navigill9) April 7, 2017
Protesters were outraged that ASOS renamed the product, effectively losing any cultural resonance. “It’s a tikka.. If you’re gonna have ethnic ‘influenced’ items at least name them right,” wrote one user on Twitter. “TIKKA rolls off the tongue in comparison to this chandelier BS,” agreed another.
@ASOS_HeretoHelp its a tikka.. If you're gonna have ethnic "influenced" items at least name them right
— Roxii ♡ (@Roxiioxoo) April 6, 2017
— Bollywood Queen™ ???? (@Bollywood_Divas) April 5, 2017
— Shagufta K (@shaguftakiqbal) April 5, 2017
As Huffington Post reports, ASOS indirectly responded to the backlash by taking the “Faux Pearl Chandelier Hair Clip” off its website as of Thursday evening. Similar products like “Orelia Semi Precious Festival Hair Tika” are also no longer available on the site.
Sadly, there’s a long list of cultural appropriation issues that festival season kicks off annually. Just this week, Topshop landed in hot water for a “scarf playsuit” patterned after a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf. The backlash led Topshop to pull the outfit from the site. Free People has drawn criticism for its entire festival collection, which featured everything from allegedly Native American-inspired prints to headdresses. Even celebrities aren’t immune; last year, Vanessa Hudgens dressed for Coachella with an entire dream catcher on her head. Even when called out, people are often unapologetic about their would be-offensive festival wear, which has included dashikis, cornrows, headdresses, bindis, and more.
So how to dress for an upcoming festival? As Aisha Haque tells Global News, “You can’t just blatantly take something from another culture and give no acknowledgment, that is highly offensive.”
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