Cultural appropriation, the sociological concept referring to the adoption of elements from a culture outside one’s own, is becoming particularly problematic when they are taken without thorough understanding or respect.
Apparently, critics are unhappy that the first daughter chose to wear “hybrid” clothing from Western designers instead of “authentic” ones from Indian designers.
For one, Bandana Tewari, editor of Vogue India, told The New York Times:
“If Ivanka’s clothes are to be an acknowledgment of an ancient and rich culture like ours, especially as she arrives as a dignitary, then the sartorial ‘tribute’ should be authentic in its intention.”
“We would rather see her wear a hand-woven sari made in our country or a handmade gown made in her own country. But to hybridize the two, in an era of unfiltered diversity, is a superfluous nod to half-acceptance.”
Trump was in India to lead the U.S. delegation to the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She was seen wearing at least five “Indian-inspired” garments throughout her visit.
Media outlets also compared Trump’s choices to those of Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama and her own stepmother, Melania Trump.
Indian opinion site DailyO, which called her a “botoxed Barbie,” described her look from the first day of the summit:
“For day one of the summit, she walked out in a $3,500 Erdem dress that vaguely referenced the orient with its floral print. She compounded this superficial assimilation of culture with yet another Tory Burch outfit. This time a floral gown that looked like a ‘me-too’ of a Kashmiri pheran for the prime minister’s banquet at the Taj Falaknuma Palace.”
While Trump is certainly getting flak from some, others are hesitant to accuse her of cultural appropriation. Dr. Rina Arya, an art theorist from the University of Wolverhampton in England, is one.
Dr. Arya, who has written on the appropriation of Hindu symbols, told Newsweek:
“On a cursory level, by adapting Indian design styles, she can be accused of cultural appropriation. But if we want to be analytical about it, the question runs far deeper than that, and we need to look at her motivation for dressing the way she did, her understanding of the Indian culture, et cetera before such a claim is made.”
— Nari (@NariKesari) November 30, 2017
“The fact she departed from her usual style of dress to styles that were more covered up should be considered as an attempt to be respectful.”
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