It's crucial to know that there is a distinction between appreciation and appropriation. When someone makes an effort to comprehend and learn about another culture in order to extend their perspective and establish cross-cultural relationships, they are demonstrating appreciation.
When a tradition, such as attire or hairstyle, is taken from one culture and adopted into another, more dominant society, this is known as cultural appropriation. People may become offended if this is done without acknowledging the traditions' cultural significance or without making it clear where the customs originated.
Cultural appropriation is such a highlighted key topic which runs across social media especially when it comes to fashion. While even many loved celebrities have even been questioned if their actions are culturally appropriate such as, Selena Gomez in 2013 when she wore a bindi and did a ‘Bollywood inspired’ dance on Dancing with the stars and Beyonce when her and Coldplay released their music video for ‘Hymn for the weekend’ in 2016, where she portrayed a Bollywood actress dripped in traditional Indian garb and henna.
So, is it cultural appropriation to wear Asian attire to a wedding as a Non-Asian?
Personally, I love seeing Non- Asians wearing Asian attire to our weddings as I see it more as cultural appreciation and them making an effort to learn more about our culture. Being born and brought up in London, I have been exposed to so many different cultural paths. Whether it is being able to celebrate Caribbean traditions and cultures by having the chance to attend Nottinghill Carnival or appreciating (and loving) Chinese food and culture everytime I step into Chinatown. Being able to empower and celebrate other cultures is what makes us global citizens and I believe anyone should be able to show appreciation to other cultures by wearing cultural clothes.
There is no restriction on sari wear to Asian women only. It can always be worn by anyone as long as they are comfortable. Additionally, wearing a sari is not required for guests at Asian weddings. People will be able to tell that you are from a different culture and may not be dressed in the customary manner since it makes you uncomfortable.
A more cultured appearance is often the outcome of embracing such cultural heritage. Many people in ancient Asian culture, which is increasingly gaining popularity in contemporary society, wear saris as their regular, everyday clothes. You can even see our very own Sahani wearing a sari as everyday wear on our tiktok (@kanyalondon).
Written by Joyce Fernando