First things first, I am undeniably a stereotypical white girl. I come from the suburbs, I enjoy wearing trackies and I over indulge in caffeine. I am also physically white. That being said, I’m also Indian. My mother is Indian, my DNA is 50% Indian, I am a bona fide Hindu. However, the colour of my skin should not dictate my ability (or yours) to wear a sparkly sticker in the middle of my (your) forehead.
Having read this post by the lovely Anjali Joshi that recently exploded over the tumblrsphere, I was satisfied that the issue of Vanessa Hudgens appearing yet again culturally appreciative had been put to rest. That was until I read the comments on the post. One such comment reads “I don’t think it’s blatant disrespect or anything, but wearing a bindi doesn’t make you a progressive thinker. They know nothing about the significance of them, they just think that their cute.”
But I think, dear commenter, that you’re missing the point. Sparkly plasticy stickery bindis are cute. That is their actual intented purpose. The reason you have never seen a Hindu woman wearing a sparkly bindi on a day to day basis is because you wear them when you dress up, as Vanessa Hudgens did when she went to Coachella, as I will when I go to a festival this year, or as I did when I attended a garba (think Hindu harvest festival party) just this October.
Conversely, wearing a red dot on your forehead has significant religious connotations, which, to be quite frank, I could not begin to explain if I tried. But wearing a sparkly bindi? Well, that to me, and for my Indian-Hindu family at least, is the same as wearing a necklace or a bunch of bangles, and is definitely not the same as wearing a Native American headdress.
Yes, cultural appropriation is wrong. No, I do not represent the opinions of every Hindu. But I do think that bindis are cute, and enjoy wearing them. Maybe you should try one too.