Culture Fashion Mindset

Cultural Appropriation Vs Cultural Appreciation: The Difference

model wearing native american headress
Victoria Secret Show

Nowadays, many people throw blame around on social media. And most of it is related to racism. People are attacked for appropriating other people’s cultures and so on. However, sometimes the claims of cultural appropriation are actually the act of cultural appreciation.

And it is time that we learn about both of these concepts.

What is Cultural Appropriation?

“Cultural appropriation” is a term that has come to refer to the adoption of elements of one culture, especially in attitudes and clothing, without regard for the impact on those whose culture it incorporates.

caucasian man wearing native american headress
A non-Native person wearing a Native American war bonnet

The phenomenon is commonly associated with the white Western world but also occurs in other cultures. It happens where members of oppressed groups take up aspects of their oppressors’ culture for reasons. Such as self-expression or for economic gain. Though cultural appropriation isn’t exactly racism in a strict sense, a lot of people believe that its existence contributes to oppression and exclusion that propagate racism.

The main thing you need to understand about cultural appropriation is what it actually means: To appropriate something akin to stealing someone’s identity.

What is Cultural Appreciation?

Cultural appreciation is the knowledge and understanding of one culture by another. In our globalized world, this is unfortunately not a common practice. So, what does it mean to appreciate someone else’s culture?

Lakota Native American Man at Pow Wow
Photo by Andrew James on Unsplash

Respecting their values and beliefs, while simultaneously celebrating their differences. Learning about customs and etiquette different from your own – are all part of appreciating someone else’s culture. It will help you understand yourself better as well as those who inhabit the world around you. Cultural appreciation empowers us to interact with people from other countries confidently without resorting to stereotypes or generalizations.

Learning the Difference…

Cultural appropriation is the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own. Especially without showing that you understand or respect the culture. Cultural appreciation means showing that you understand and appreciate cultures other than your own.

It’s important to recognize that these terms are distinct, but people frequently use them interchangeably and ineffectively. It is important to note that cultural appropriation can be taken from certain cultures without consent, whereas cultural appreciation involves more care.

Some authors argue that when we use elements of other cultures without understanding or respect, we are culturally appropriating them without even learning the language of those cultures. Basically, we take their culture without giving them a chance to have control over where and how it is taken. This can lead to misunderstandings and racism between cultures, especially when different groups of people make assumptions about the other group without even considering their perspective. For example, using another culture’s traditional dress, hairstyle, or food as a fashion statement is often considered cultural appropriation.

So, cultural appreciation means treating culture as if you understand it and respect it. Not just through actions but also through communication.

Also read: How to Show Respect to Others