What is ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Anyways?

IMG_5313IMG_5725For this post, we challenged ourselves to put together the most *American* outfits we could without doing any online research to see how much influence other cultures have on our sense of style.

In short, we failed. Miserably.

Literally none of the styles we chose originated in America. Then, we did some more research and found that the only styles that truly got their start in the United States are blue jeans and western wear.

 

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This exercise was truly eye-opening because we saw firsthand that if we hadn’t taken styles from other cultures, there essentially would be no fashion in this country.

So, that brings us back to the idea of cultural appropriation. When is it okay to take ideas from other cultures and when is it disrespectful?

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I remember people getting upset about things like the name, “The Washington Redskins,” or even more recently, not liking that Kendall and Kylie put their faces on t-shirts with the names of Tupac and other African American artists, but I didn’t realize there was a name for it: cultural appropriation. The definition of cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.

As someone who is half Puerto Rican, I do understand this on a personal level. Particularly when people use bits and pieces of Spanish without really knowing what they mean, like adding “el” before certain words and “o” after them , like “el car-o” to be funny and make those words sound Hispanic.

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It’s not that big of a deal to me because I know most people who do this are just trying to be funny and aren’t trying to be disrespectful, but I understand why it is offensive to some people. Taking some aspects of a language and using them improperly is not respectful to that language and the people who speak it.

-S

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IMG_5555As we all know, America is a melting pot of different cultures. With so many different types of people coming to the States, cultures and lifestyles are bound to mix and take on aspects of other traditions. There are definitely reasons to tread cautiously when it comes to clothes, art, or anything from other cultures, but without this amazing conglomeration of people and ideas, we would not have things like Chicago-style pizza or New York Fashion Week.

I was researching cultural appropriation for this post because I actually didn’t even know what it was before Sabrina brought it up to me. I found this incredible article on how to approach cultural appropriation in a positive way, and I could not have put it any better myself:

“In the 21st century, cultural appropriation—like globalization—isn’t just inevitable; it’s potentially positive. We have to stop guarding cultures and subcultures in efforts to preserve them. It’s naïve, paternalistic, and counterproductive. Plus, it’s just not how culture or creativity work. The exchange of ideas, styles, and traditions is one of the tenets and joys of a modern, multicultural society. So how do we move past the finger pointing, and co-exist in a way that’s both creatively open and culturally sensitive? In a word, carefully.”

-The Atlantic, “The Dos and Don’ts of Cultural Appropriation

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If we limited ourselves to just ‘American’ culture and didn’t share with others, we would not have much at all. Blending cultures and lifestyles is what makes America, America.

So, if you like good music, good food, and good fashion, we should probably keep mixing cultures (respectfully).

-H

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To be completely honest, I did not understand why people got upset about cultural appropriation until fairly recently. I thought that people should be happy and feel honored if another culture borrowed one of their ideas and showcased it. (Boy was I wrong.)

I finally understood why people got upset about it when girls started wearing shirts and toting coffee mugs with the phrase, “Nama’stay in Bed,” emblazoned on them. Namaste is a Hindi greeting, and one time when I asked a girl wearing one of those shirts if she knew what “Namaste” meant or even what language it came from, she had no clue. As someone who is half Indian, that’s when I got a little offended and realized that there’s a right way and a wrong way to borrow from other cultures.

It is acceptable to borrow another culture’s idea if you know the meaning behind it and you treat it respectfully. Such as, if a clothing company used tribal print on one of their artisan-crafted handbags and also told a story about creator of the bag and the origin of the print in the description, this would be acceptable. On the other hand, if a company put a Native American headdress on one of their Caucasian, underwear-clad models for a runway show, that is not okay (ahem, Victoria’s Secret).

-S

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Sharing between cultures is something that is unavoidable–and honestly desirable–if we want to bring cultures closer together. But, there is a right way to do it by honoring the history of the cultural idea and the people who came up with it, and a wrong way to do it, which is ignoring everything except the aesthetic value of the idea.

Learn before you wear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by: H+L Creations

Savvy’s Wearing:

| Forever 21 Satin Shirtdress | Marc Fisher Ankle Boots (similar) | Amazon Earrings | H&M Hair Piece | Fossil Purse (similar) | Plato’s Closet Watch (similar) | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) |

 

Hannah’s Wearing:

| Forever 21 Slip Dress (similar) | Target Button Down Shirt (similar) | Amazon Heeled Sandals | Target Earrings (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses (similar) | BCBG Purse (similar) |

 

Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Amazon Crop Top (similar) | Forever 21 Pants (similar) | Zara PurseH&M Sunglasses | Forever 21 Mules | Amazon Earrings | Plato’s Closet Watch (similar) | Amazon Rings |

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The Fashion Girl’s Guide to Fitness

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For my entire life, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t reach my goals. Being a full time student and having two jobs are definitely good reasons, but they’re still excuses. But in January of 2016, something clicked in my head, and I realized how much control I have over my life. If I really want something, I’m the only person who can keep me from it.

I decided to dedicate my entire life to fitness and health. I began working out for one hour five days a week and eating clean six days a week. My plan was to lose fifteen pounds. I ended up losing thirty pounds.

 

After losing the weight, I kept setting new goals, and I kept reaching them. I suddenly enjoyed shopping for new clothes because I felt good about myself. I was finally able to wear cute outfits and not feel self conscious. I’d never had this much confidence in my life. _MG_6604Not only did I look better, I felt better. I felt strong and healthy. I felt happier and got better sleep. I started to realize it’s not about how you look; it’s about how you feel. Before losing weight, I was called fat. After losing weight, I was called too skinny. My response? “Well, I love myself and that’s all that matters.” And it truly is all that matters.

It doesn’t matter what type of clothes you wear, how skinny you are, or how much makeup you wear. As long as you truly love yourself, you’ll rock any look. It’s not the outfit that makes you look good. It’s your confidence and how you wear that outfit that makes you look good.

Life is too short to try to impress others. Do things that make you happy, things that make you feel your best.

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I now train for at least an hour and a half five days a week and I count my macros. I’m climbing the ladder of the fitness world around me. People are constantly asking me how to look and feel better, and it makes me feel so happy. Everyone deserves to love themselves. This new confidence has not only helped me in the gym, but it has also helped me in front of the camera, with my job, with socializing in general.

People are drawn towards confidence. I think that’s because everyone strives for and wishes to love themselves. At the end of the day, it’s all about being the healthiest version of ourselves. We only have one life, and one body. We’re meant to take care of it and to love it.

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Whoever said fashion and fitness had to be mutually exclusive was just plain wrong. Ditch those gray, baggy sweat pants because fashion and fitness have come together and had a baby, and its name is athleisure. From yoga-inspired looks like mine to bold, fresh looks like Sabrina’s, this new take on workout gear is anything but boring.

_MG_6740Last season was filled with bright colors, so I love the fresh take this season has brought with muted monochromatics. A number of traditional ready-to-wear stores have taken on athleisure sections, including H&M, Old Navy, and Free People, and even Beyonce has her own fitness line! Wearing Adidas sneakers instead of a pair of cute flats is the easiest fashion-forward way athleisure can play into your daily life. Yoga pants are no longer restricted to yoga classes, so pair them with a flowy top and hit up brunch with friends._MG_6815_MG_6546

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Quite often, people make the mistake of thinking that you have to wear ‘traditional workout clothes’ when you work out, but I think the athleisure trend has definitely disproved that. There are many ways to incorporate fashion-forward trends into your athletic looks, like the strappy back of my sports bra or Sabrina’s velvet sneakers.

 

When it comes to fashion, it’s all about your perspective, so rock those silk joggers and feel free to wear patterned leggings until the end of time.

-H

 

As a full-time student and aspiring entrepreneur, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time (or the energy) to hit the gym. I like to work out in the morning, so if it gets past noon or one o’clock, it’s probably not going to happen that day. Unfortunately, I also do my best work in the morning, so I frequently get caught up writing blog posts or knocking out homework assignments until my ideal ‘workout window’ has passed. So, what’s a morning girl to do then?_MG_7001My solution is to put on my workout clothes as soon as I wake up, even if I don’t know if I’m going to work out that day. Because if I already have my leggings and sports bra on, I’m a lot more likely to make that ten minute drive to the gym.

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Changing into athletic clothes doesn’t seem like that big of a task, but when you’re trying to make the decision of whether or not to work out at like 12:59, already being in those clothes is a huge motivating factor. And there’s actually science to back up this idea. The theory of ‘enclothed cognition’ describes the mental changes we undergo when we wear certain clothing. One researcher from a 2012 study on the topic says, “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”

 

This doesn’t mean that leggings are magical, and as soon as you put them on, you’ll transform into a fitness guru. But, if  you’re already contemplating going for a run, wearing the clothes you subconsciously associate with running can give you the extra push you need to actually go through with it.

Plus, athleisure is as comfortable and cute as it gets, so what other reason do you need to stock up on track pants and funky tennis shoes?

-S

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Britney’s Outfit Details

Top: Express

Sports Bra: Forever 21

Leggings: Forever 21

Tennis Shoes: H&M

Hat: Nike

Sunglasses: Aldo

Hannah’s Outfit Details

Top: Forever 21

Sports Bra: Forever 21

Leggings: Target

Hoodie: Forever 21

Slip On Shoes: ASOS

Sunglasses: TJ Maxx

Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Top: Goodwill (revitalized by Awaken Atelier)

Track Pants: Forever 21

Tennis Shoes: Target

Sunglasses: Rue21