• Mon, Jun 23 - 11:50 am ET

Even North West Got In On The Cultural Appropriation Game At Her Birthday This Weekend

Even North West Got In On The Cultural Appropriation Game At Her Birthday This Weekend

Photo: Instagram

It’s been a big year for North West, you guys. She’s been pierced, “waxed,” angel-ized, gotten her detective’s license and, of course, been born. Now, she’s having her very first cultural appropriation scandal with this whole “Kidchella” birthday party fiasco.

Long story short: “Kidchella” was the name of North’s first birthday party’s theme, meaning it was like Coachella but for…well, kids. It was an over-the-top and heavily Instagrammable affair complete with a bounce house and ferris wheel. Naturally, this also meant that her Bindi-wearing family members felt the need to wear all the headdresses they could find and pair them with jorts, as one does when they are a very rich and very silly human being. Not satisfied to simply hang out with these folks, North West had to get in on the cultural appropriation game by wearing this outfit:

Even North West Got In On The Cultural Appropriation Game At Her Birthday This Weekend

Photo: Instagram

Somebody page Pharrell‘s PR team so this kid can give a half-hearted pseudo-apology and be all, “Sorry I’m not sorry!” Except it’ll probably sound more like “Bluh bluh blah” because she is a one-year-old. STILL. She should apologize!

Just kidding. I’m joking, of course. North West is an actual baby, so I am pretty secure in assuming she did not choose this theme nor this outfit, and it would silly to blame or critique her for literally anything she does. (People who do that are pretty much tools, so…) So even though I still think that KimKhloe, KanyeKendallKris and every other human being with a name that starts with “K” in their family (and probably the rest of ‘em, too) are rather ridic, I think the only thing that can really be observed about North in any of these photos is how effing adorable she is. And how obligatory an “I’mma let you finish that cake” joke must have been at the party.

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  • Alana Vincenza

    Ugh North, get it together, girl.

  • Lisa Kellogg

    I went as Pochahontas for Halloween one year because when I was 3-5, she was my favorite Disney princess + I wanted to get in touch with my “Native American roots.” Forget the adult cultural appropriation, the real problem lies with kids these days.

    (note: I eventually started renting books about the real Pochahontas from the Bookmobile and library and my mind was blown at the idea that Disney lied to me)

  • Rennie

    Is it a cultural appropriation scandal to wear a kilt if you’re not Scottish? Or to Have dreads if you’re not a Rastafarian? Or to have a Celtic symbol or a Chinese character tattoo? Or to wear henna?

    • Kelly

      No, it’s not. The problem comes in when you wear something from a culture that has an important meaning. That’s why wearing a headdress is a problem and a dress with fringe on it is not.

    • Celia

      Henna, kilts, Celtic symbols and Chinese characters all have important meanings. You can’t pick and choose which cultures have the right to be offended and which are deemed okay for everyone.

    • FemelleChevalier

      Uhmm, Chinese characters are written language. Language isn’t appropriation, because that would mean that multi-lingual people would be offensive in itself.

      Also, language is evolving. If it weren’t, then Korean and Japanese won’t exist as a language. And, in actuality, English won’t even exist.

      Ergo, Chinese character tattoos are not an appropriation. One explanation is that no sane Chinese would ever get that kind of tattoo because it’s not even a cultural nor a traditional phenomenon in China.

      Now, Yakuza tattoos are different. Sure, you can get one. Just don’t go in public baths in Japan because you might encounter other Yakuza members.

    • Celia

      What I’m saying though, is that all of those things have important meanings. I fully understand that language is evolving and its not appropriation to use the language. However, taking a language and using it as a tattoo simply because it “look cool” or is trendy seems offensive, wouldn’t you agree? Especially because a high percentage of Chinese character tattoos are incorrectly written, or gibberish.

      Kelly said the problem comes when you wear something from a culture that has meaning, all I was doing was pointing out that the other examples listed also have meaning within the culture. Which they do. So by her definition, not mine, that would also be appropriation. Honestly I think you should be able to wear anything you’d like from another culture, despite your own race, if you do it with respect and not in a mocking or caricature way.

    • FemelleChevalier

      Honestly I think you should be able to wear anything you’d like from another culture…

      Hmmm. I think it depends. Sure, traditional clothing of a country is okay. Heck, I think it will delight the people if foreigners are appreciating their clothes/foods/arts/etcetera.

      But in saying that, there are certain things that aren’t allowed to be worn willy-nilly — the headdress. These kinds are incomparable to other things because it is traditionally and ceremonially gained. Not all Native Americans can wear it, so why are you wearing it? Do you deserve it?

      Those kinds of ceremonial and traditional things can be found in other countries as well. One should just use common sense to distinguish what is proper and what is not. I guess a simple research will suffice. Asking directly would definitely suffice.

      P.S. I’ve seen my ancestor’s ancient writing as a tattoo on an American, and I’m not offended. That person knows where it came from. IF that person don’t know, then I’ll think he’s just plain stupid. For most Chinese I know, they just think that people are stupid for not even checking if the characters are right.

    • anonyguest

      There are a handful of tartans that are permissible to be worn by non-clan members/are generic tartans, these are what is advisable to wear if you would like to dress in tartan and want to be sure to be polite about it. Many Scottish clans take pride in their tartan being represented properly and respectfully. However it is less so considered appropriation because they aren’t considered a “minority” culture in the same sense.

      Cultural appropriation does not just mean “dressing up as” it is a historically oppressive group taking something from a historically oppressed group, to put it as simply as possible, thereby trivializing the value and cultural significance of that group. It is not just about the headdress, but about the historical imbalance of power between the parties involved.

      This woman explains it far better than I ever could. http://nativeappropriations.com/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-a-hipster-headdress.html

      That said, I’m not sure brown fringed smock with flowery headband crossed the cultural appropriation line, but I personally would err on the side of caution since I don’t get to decide what hurts a group of people I am not a part of.

    • Lackadaisical

      Yes, English men wearing kilts tend to wear the Stewart one, as the Queen is technically our head of clan and so we can wear her family one (although she isn’t that Stewart really and perhaps would have a better claim to whatever kilt her Scottish mother’s clan wear). If an English man wears another kilt it tends to be of some distant relative that he doesn’t really have a claim to, like my husband and his family making a big deal of Crawford when it was his maternal grandmother who was a Scottish Crawford and he is very English. However, most Scottish people I know have merely thought that non-Scottish people wearing kilts are idiots rather than offensive.

    • Rennie

      I don’t find it offensive when non-Scots wear kilts, Although you have to look at the Scots history better, we are a historically oppressed culture, we no longer speak our native language because of it and the kilt we have today was redesigned by an Englishman in the 17th century to make it more convenient for his Scots “workers”. I honestly feel people pick and choose what cultural appropriation is. My question was rhetorical, I should have stated that — I was merely trying to make a point. If you admire the way something looks, enjoy wearing it and do so respectfully, I say go for it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      “I don’t get to decide what hurts a group of people I am not a part of”

      This.

    • Lackadaisical

      While it is not bad cultural appropriation to wear a kilt if you are not Scottish, as an English person I am aware that when completely not Scottish men decide to wear kilts then actual Scottish people think they are idiots and it can come across as patronising and arrogant. That is because there is a history between England and Scotland, it is just one that is further in the past and not quite as one sided as the bad history between native Americans and white Americans descended from the settlers who treated them so badly, Yes, I admit as an English woman that England have treated Scotland very badly at times, but not on the same scale or as recently and Scottish people don’t live with the racism that Native Americans still suffer to this day. You are welcome to do fancy dress by wearing pin stripes and a bowler hat while sipping tea, or dress as a Saxon or an English football hooligan because my identity as an English person is one of privilege rather than oppression and racism. As an English woman while there would be no problem with me wearing just Celtic symbols if I dressed as a leprechaun I might make Irish people feel uncomfortable and mocked, particularly bearing in mind the Troubles. A Chinese character as a tattoo is fine (if you are absolutely sure it says what you think it says) but putting on a pronounced stereotype costume of China can feel as if you are dismissing a rich and varied culture with a cartoonish stereotype for amusement. If you are not careful you can seem like Mickey Rooney playing a Japanese character for laughs in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and plenty of people found that offensive. Bindis are popular amongst festival goers but they actually mean something to Hindus and a lot of white people wearing them aren’t using them in the same way and as a lot of Hindu people suffer racism in other countries to see a white girl wearing something from their religion that gets them mocked as if it were a cute fashion peace, and be seen as cool because of it, can hurt.

    • Rennie

      I’m Scottish, I disagree with mostly all you have said.

  • Andrea

    Fringe is a privilege, not a right!

  • CMJ

    I don’t really have a problem with her dress, actually. But Khloe (ugh, that spelling) gallivanting around in that headdress is an entirely other story….

  • Kelly

    I’m sorry but no culture owns fringe. She isn’t wearing a headdress. There’s nothing wrong with this.

  • Kelly

    I’m sorry but no culture owns fringe. She isn’t wearing a headdress. There’s nothing wrong with this.

  • FemelleChevalier

    This is where my confusion about cultural appropriation sets in. Is fringe an important cultural and ceremonial clothing that is only worn by Native Americans all throughout history? If one wears it, is it stomping on a ceremonial tradition of sorts?

    I dunno. I think this is stretching it a bit too far. I think it falls on cultural sharing that shaped our history and civilizations, i.e. through trading. I’ll guess I’ll compare it to martial arts, dancing, art, language, etcetera: you can share it as long as you know the origin and respects it.

    Besides, civilizations wouldn’t have prospered nor evolved without sharing of cultures.