A friend of mine recently made a work of art that showcased a pair of “fashion lips”, with names of drugs dripping from them. It’s beautiful, but at first glance, everyone thought that she listed all the drugs she’s done, wanted to do, or any she could think of. It turns out that was not the case at all. She told me that she was horrified that drug culture has made its way into popular culture as a way to seem cool. She was already uncomfortable with religious symbolism on clothing, but this epidemic was so bad that she had to paint about it.
POINT OF VIEW
Drug culture, she says, should not be popularized and promoted the way it is. I completely understand her point of view. It’s probably not cool to run around with a shirt that says “acid” or “bath salts” with no context whatsoever. What does it mean? Is that a part of the wearer’s culture, or personal life? Nowadays, the answer is most wear, simply because both parts are, in fact very common figures of likely no. And if not, should it be worn by those who are not a speech. Putting them together is a great way to get people to leave me part of that culture? the f--- alone when I’m having a particularly low day. And then I get compliments on it, which invariably makes my day better. I don’t think That raises a whole slew of questions. If it’s not a part of your own Christians should fume over that particular design, simply because it’s a culture, do you have a right to it? How much research and thought clever play on words that are used in nonreligious contexts, and invites goes into each piece that a consumer purchases? Is fashion limited you to put it in a religious context so you can offend yourself. Some by social and cultural constraints? I’m going to start with the last people realize that you don’t have to put it in any context at all, and it question, and say, of course not. Originality in art (and fashion) is still offers you something: humor. The Acid Sweater I wear not because very difficult to achieve, so we instead strive for original presenta- I do drugs, which I don’t in the least, but because even if there is no tion. Now, whether or not you agree with what fashion presents context for wearing it, the way it is designed is how I imagine the world to you is your choice, and no one else’s decision to make for you, would appear if I were to be on acid. I’m probably wrong, but hey. I still though everyone’s to judge. That being said, we’re all aware that get something out of it when not in context. And what one gets out of trends are a glorious representation of why there isn’t much thought it is entirely dependent on a person and their experiences, which means happening on the consuming end of fashion. Here’s some peplum! that a lot of the time, it leaves the shelves as a fashion statement, and Here’s some galaxy print! There’s a clear heel! etc. And it’s not a is donned as a personal statement, regardless of whether or not you (or sin to want these things as they are presented, and to buy them. they) know what that statement is. But when it comes to controversial things, like fashion bindis and feather headdresses and religious symbols and drug use, where do I’m going to focus on bindis in terms of cultural appropriation. I don’t you draw the line? believe in wearing a bindi if one does not understand what it means. Chances are that many people (Indians included) may not have a clue In my opinion, if something is presented to me in such a way that about its meaning. But I personally don’t wear it, because I don’t have I’d be willing to overlook a potential flaw, then I’m all for it. Take, a strong conviction about what it stands for. The bindi’s significance is for example, UNIF. I’m totally on board with some of their stuff, that of the “third eye”, or the spiritual eye. It offers a path to enlightensuch as the Acid sweater, or the Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake ment. The fact that many Indians continue to blindly follow this ritual sweater. Other things, however, such as, well, most everything else, without consciously thinking about its significance begs the question as while I find immensely funny and chuckle to myself over, I will to whether or not it’s appropriate to give a cultural and religious symbol not buy. I respect everyone’s opinions, especially on something like a new meaning if it seems to have lost its old one. Is “being pretty” a someone’s religion, but if I don’t endorse it, then I don’t endorse it. good reason to wear it? Many in the fashion world say, Yes! Fashion I’m not in the mindset that I have to boycott the whole company is art, and art means whatever you want it to mean! I don’t know the just because I don’t like some things. I mean, their opinions are very answer for myself, and until I do, I abstain. While I think that a physical, blatant in the design of their clothing, and I daresay, clever. decorative representation of a spiritual eye is a cool idea, I have no need for it, and will most likely never attempt to see the world from a more Why? I hear you ask. spiritual perspective because of a thing on my forehead. Let’s be honest, I’d probably forget it was there. At least we can still attribute its origins Well, because I honestly don’t care. I’m not riled up by anything to India (unlike the [in]famous “tribal prints”). they write, but I don’t necessarily subscribe to that belief either. I appreciate that they’re questioning Christianity, which I’m on Maybe drug culture shouldn’t be promoted, just because it’s harmful board with, but it reads more as a form of rebellion and ridicule of to one’s body to do drugs. Bindis, crosses, and feather headdresses are the religion, which tends to fly nowadays especially in parts of the probably not physically harmful. But from the perspective of an indiyouth culture. But seeing as I’m neither rebellious nor extensively vidual, any significance that drugs, cultural/religious symbols, or most ridiculing Christianity or any other religion, it makes no sense for anything else hold for any group of people might be lost in the fleeting me to wear something that offends people that I have no intention nature of trends and the desire to be ahead of the style pack. of offending. The “Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake” sweater I do
46 | MARCH 2013 | RIVISTA DI MODA