Problematic or Not

I did it. Today someone on my instagram feed “did a thing,” and I had to say something about it. This young woman with whom I attended middle school several years ago has recently been posting photos of herself modeling in various places and doing various things. They’re all beautiful, and she is a lovely girl from what I remember. Today, however, she posted a new photo of herself in an American Indian-style tribal headdress.

Again, I have hardly, if at all, spoken to this girl since around 2010, and we weren’t best friends back then, just to set the scene for you. And I am not the girl who comments on Kylie Jenner’s instagram when she wear cornrows or blasts Iggy Azealea for her racist actions. So did I step out of line? Perhaps. But I tried to do so as respectfully as possible to point out the flaws of this photo. Here is what went down:

Me: “I’m rarely the one to cry cultural appropriation especially to a culture that’s isn’t my own but this is completely disrespectful. You are stunning in this photo and the others but I would recommend you and your photographer do some research especially if you are trying to be a professional. This is becoming more and more of shameful action. I don’t mean to be rude or point my finger at you but it’s really not the best representation of yourself and your art.” I also posted a link to an MTV article about appropriation especially in the form of wearing headdresses.

Girl: “I already read the article. i am fully aware of this being politically incorrect. although to appreciate another culture is nothing shameful. people dress in costume every Halloween like this in face paint as well making it a joke. white girls wear their hair in cornrows. I appreciate you trying but why don’t you rag on all the girls wearing kimonos from lawrence”

Me: “This issue isn’t wearing something from another culture. If you read the article you’ll know the problem with this specifically is a sacred tradition. It’s your gram, you can post what you want. I am just saying if I was trying to be seen as professional this would not be my chosen route.”

Girl: “‘The headdress is reserved for our revered elders who, through their selflessness and leadership, have earned the right to wear one.’ i read it Kam. thank you. i have people very close in my life that are Native American and haven’t said anything. Professional… there’s a whole page of well known models wearing this head piece. I go to college to be a social worker i live my whole life to help others. i’m wearing a head piece that is beautiful. leave me alone.”

I was then told by her other followers that I am “just jealous” and to “leave with my negative energy if her page isn’t up to my standards,” where she did defend that I was just sharing my opinion and we can agree to disagree, so thanks for that.

Now I’m speaking on my own site, so let me continue with my opinion and negative energy.

First of all, like I said to this girl, I was not trying to attack her personally or call her a racist or anything. I think I chose my words carefully, and I appreciate the way she defended herself. I took the approach as to letting this be a teaching moment. I don’t know if she is trying to be a professional model, I don’t know if her photographer is a professional or trying to be one. What I do know is that this post was not “politically incorrect,” it was just downright offensive. The article explained that the use of the headdress is traditionally sacred, which is why it’s not okay for commoners to put one on to take an edgy photo. Kimonos, are not sacred cultural symbol, so for girls from Lawrence or wherever to wear something in the style or even called a “kimono” is okay. Should we all take a history lesson when donning trends from other cultures? Sure. But is there a difference between sharing trends and appropriating culture? Absolutely.

Again, I am rarely the one commenting on things like kimonos and cornrows, because things like that seem more of a gray area to me, and I am still learning. When it comes to headdresses, it’s just a fact. Victoria’s Secret couldn’t get away with it. Pharrell couldn’t get away with it. Will this girl get away with it? Maybe. It’s her personal instagram account and I seemed to be the only person who cared, but hopefully she’ll think about her actions because I said something.

I have posted before about my annoyance with the apparent influx of “cultural appropriation arguments.” My first week of college I wanted to yank my eyeballs out because it was such a “big deal,” but I think some aspects are important. I say some not to say some cultures being targeted are less important, but rather to say that in becoming more aware of this, we are walking a fine line.

The issue is being afraid of cultural appropriation rather than being aware of it. If something you want to wear or do might be considered appropriation, you should absolutely research it. But the keyword there is research, not just avoiding it altogether. If we walk around on eggshells saying things like “I shouldn’t use chopsticks that’s appropriation!” we breed xenophobia. I think chaotically-neutral on tumblr said it best when they said,

“Historically, separating cultures often leads to cultural incompetence, xenophobia, discrimination, stereotyping, and racism. Cultural appropriation is bad, but that doesn’t make cultural segregation good.”

I’m not always right. But I think discourse is important especially when it come to these issues. The girl on instagram said she lives her whole life to help others and I think that’s great. However, I think she made a mistake in posting this picture and I hope she and the people that applauded her can see that.

The world is constantly changing, and it’s hard to keep up with what is still okay to do and what is really looked down upon in society. We’re all gonna make mistakes, but I hope that we continue to accept when that happens and learn from them.

xoxo,

Kam

UPDATE: 9 hours later the picture is still up, and someone else has joined the argument. This person commented:

“Honestly i truly believe cultural appropriation is determined by who you are as a person and your morals and beliefs and i think the issue with so many people is that they are assuming that you are not advocating for the oppressed people you are so called “representing” but they wouldn’t know that. If they knew you theyd know you are going to school for social work aka working against social issues. Basically i always say never appreciate a negative opinion from someone who doesnt really know you.”

To which the poster replied:

“This was so well said. thank you. the whole issue with wearing a headpiece is that in their culture you have to earn the right to wear it, but i do not live in their society. i fully respect their traditions.”

I’m trying to let it go and walk away, but I am getting angrier. I would post more comments on the picture, but clearly no one is paying attention. Basically, this person is saying you’re only appropriating a culture if you actually hate and intend to disrespect the culture and its people. She is correct and saying I don’t really know the girl who posted the picture. I don’t know her morals or her actions. But, I never said she was a bad person for posting this. I did say I think her actions were disrespectful and it is cultural appropriation.

Once again, it’s not about whether or not she hates Native Americans. I don’t think that’s what she is saying in the photo. The fact is she took a symbol- the headdress- which is sacred in Native American culture, and used it in a casual way. This is appropriation because it is taking something that is earned and highly regarded in a culture and dismissing it as a fashion accessory. She made it worse when she defended herself by saying she earned it because she’s a good person.

Also, does this other commenter know what a social worker is? Not to say they don’t do good work, but “working against social issues” isn’t exactly the job description. I suppose that’s a really general description, but their job is not to be out fighting racism, they help families and in some cases people with disorders and other issues. Again, not bad work, very good work indeed, just not what this person thinks they do.

Also, does the poster realize the hypocrisy in her statement, “I do not live in their society. I fully respect their traditions.” YOU ARE DOING THE OPPOSITE. She is saying “I’m not black so I can say the n-word because I ‘respect’ them.” Her friend is saying, “I can be racist because I’m a good person.”

I am appalled.

I am also counting my blessings because I am so grateful for my education.

Finally,

Kam

Why I Want to be a Trophy Wife

Woah woah woah. Before you start asking yourself, “Wait, isn’t Kamaron a super feminist? Why would she post this???” remember that headlines are meant to grab your attention and pull you in.

The term “trophy wife” is one often used by men and women alike to describe a woman that a man married for her looks. She is there to sit on his shelf and look pretty while everyone admires what a great job he has done.

Stop this.

This idea is ridiculous, and both parties look dumb taking part in it.

I love when anyone- especially men- find me attractive. Who doesn’t? It’s good to feel good about yourself, and it is good to find someone who is physically attracted to you. However, if I am looking for a mate, I NEED him to be attracted to my brain. I will always accept compliments. You love my hair? Great. You think I should be a model? Awesome. But self-indulgence aside, I want him to also tell me how smart he thinks I am. How creative I might be. How he loves the way my mind works. How he is generally interested in the things I have to say.

I cannot iterate how irritating it is to be around a man, or a woman for that matter, who is only interested in how I look. Not just because beauty is fleeting and it’s the inside that counts and all that, but because it’s boring. We can only talk about my physical features for so long then I want to know who you think is the best bet for presidential candidacy or climate change or literally anything that involves some amount of critical thinking.

So why do I want to be a trophy wife? Because I think we should redefine what that means. A trophy is something that you win. You have to be the best to earn the trophy in competition, and let’s face it: life and dating is a competition. I want to be the trophy for most beautiful, but also most intelligent, most creative, most engaging, etc. I want to be a prize that a man earns because he is interested in these traits about me, and he thinks I am the blue ribbon across the charts.

You want to know one of the most destructive phenomenon in out society? The participation trophy. The idea that everyone should get an award just for showing up. That’s wrong. Should we encourage kids that each and every one of them is special and has potential? Absolutely. But don’t tell your kids that if they show up and exist they will get the same outcome as the kid who shows up and puts in the most effort. You don’t walk into a company and expect to get hired just for showing up, right? Why do we teach this to our children? Feelings will be hurt. But lessons will also be learned.

Bringing that into the trophy wife idea, the old meaning of the term is like a participation trophy. If a man (or woman), walks up to a woman (or man), and tells them they’re pretty, they should get a date, or in this case, a spouse. That’s crazy. You have to earn it.

To the “husbands,” look below the surface. Find out their interests, talents, hobbies, everything, and decide if this person is actually what you want. To the “wives,” set your standards high. Be the best you that you can be. Tell this person your interests and your strengths. Let them know that you are an amazing person, and decide if they are good enough for you. Also, reverse the roles here. Every trophy wife needs her trophy husband. He should be someone she wants to show off because she also had to earn him.

Do better.

xoxo,

kam

How to Let a Guy Down Gently

Step 1: don’t.

In any relationship or situationship I handle, it is always my priority to be brutally honest at all times. That’s just how I am. I think it makes things easier and clearer and it keeps people from being misled and confused.

The best way to do this from the start of any “thing” is to be honest about what you want-especially if you don’t want anything.

Situation: I was talking to this guy for like a week before I became disinterested. Nothing against him, he just wasn’t my type. So I just kind of stopped responding. I know, kind of goes against my point, but you would think he’d take a hint.

No. No hints. He texted me 10 times over the span of 3 weeks with no reply. Here’s the part where I explain why I should’ve taken my own advice and why honesty is best. If I, the woman in this heterosexual situation, had texted him that often with no response, I have no doubt in my mind I would’ve gotten a little crazy and angry and to his friends I would be the “crazy stalker girl.”

Like thanks to this patriarchal society, women are always the crazy ones if they are simply interested in a guy and not willing to give up. The last guy who stopped talking to me, I think I texted him twice before I assumed he was filing a restraining order against me. It’s ridiculous. But men can text girls nonstop for weeks and we just accept it as normal or desperate, but normal.

Listen up ladies (or others caught in this mindset): you’re not crazy. Whether you’re the texter, or the texter, you’re not crazy. You just need to be honest. Textee: if you don’t want to get texts from this person anymore, say so. That’s what I ended up doing with this situation. I straight up said: “I’m not interested.” And he left me alone. May that have hurt his pride? Maybe. Is that my problem? No. I don’t owe him anything. Texters: if you really think this person shouldn’t be ignoring you, say so. There’s no harm in saying “Look, I think we had a good connection, and forgive me if I misread that, but I would like to hear from you IF you are interested. If not, I will leave you alone.” That’s it. If they don’t respond, let it go. If they do respond and they’re not interested, let it go. You can’t control people, but you can control how you handle these situations and how they play out if you just make things clear.

The world needs a little more honesty.

Xoxo,
Kam