Cultural Appropriation at Coachella

I’ve dreamed about going to Coachella since I was in high school. As a frequent music festival goer, Coachella is the most talked about music festival there is in the United States. And as I get older, the clothing gets more intricate for these four day long parties. As I scroll through social media to see what the hottest styles among celebrities, there has been a growing trend with many Native American-type headdresses and facial makeup.

I came across this article on my Facebook page, shared by another friend of mine. With the examples they listed in the article, the only thing I could think about was the Keyword essay on “culture”. In the essay, the author talks about how nowadays, kids are the one creating their own culture. As millennials obtain more freedom in what they can wear, they turn to celebrities for inspiration. Pictures of Victoria’s Secret models wearing headdresses in the article are a prime example.

When attending these concerts, the last thing on a girl’s mind is cultural appropriation. But today, it’s all about how “hipster” and “cool” you come off. And apparently, the new “cool” is Native American pieces and Bindis. After hundreds of years of women in such cultures have worshiped these symbols, seeing them be carelessly worn at Coachella is stab at their culture. Seeing celebrities, such as Alessandra Ambrosio pose in her Native American headdress, gives other girls the idea that it will make them look “cool” or beautiful. It almost makes it seem okay to do. And not only is the style of dress at Coachella full of cultural appropriation, so are small things like hair style.

Just as Professor Fielder has mentioned in lecture, she has entered into jobs where she was forced to change her own appearance. Today, there are even public schools and other office jobs that are banning things such as cornrows or braids, because it is seen as “unprofessional” and “unacceptable”. But that’s usually only seen when they are on African American women. When another race braids their hair, it is seen as a new trend. What makes this okay? As women are getting fired from their jobs for looking too unprofessional, it’s okay to wear for a 4 day music festival though?

As I get ready for Lollapalooza in Chicago, the outfit ideas are already starting to flow. But as the media has shown me what some people have chosen to wear, I will be sure not to make the same mistakes as some women are. One of the biggest issues is celebrities and their influence that they have on my generation. It is easy to see a picture of Kylie Jenner in braids and say, “Hey, I want to cool as cool as that”. But as you go to your next music festival, think about how these cultural symbols being worn by you affect those that actually care about them.

6 thoughts on “Cultural Appropriation at Coachella”

  1. There has been a lot a talk about people wearing other culture’s dress, hair, or accessories on halloween and Coachella since the last year. I’m surprised it took this long for someone to finally speak up and explain how wrong it is. Still, there are others who think it is no problem. I also read that article and what stood out to me is that some people think this is the same as African Americans straightening their hair. However, no one has been wronged for having straight hair. However, cornrows and afros have made people not get a job or kicked out of school. It’s not fair to take someone else’s culture as a fashion statement when others have been criticized for it. I’m glad you picked this out to talk about! Have fun at Lollapalooza!

  2. I saw this article as well and many others in the past. Victorias secret models have been accused of culturally appropriating cultures before and you would think that after the first time they would have learned their lesson. I found this article also about the same issues. This article talks about others who have been accused of the same thing like Vanessa Hudgens as pictured on her Instagram in a headdress and a line of clothing that Free People designed. Coachella seems to be a place where this is a reoccurring theme. One would think that if all of these so-called “famous” people are being accused of this so often that it would become a larger more well-known problem and would be stopped. I hope that these things begin to be seen less and less in the media and eventually becomes something that no one would ever think about doing. I don’t think people realize what they are portraying and who they are affecting when they are wearing these cultural items and things that are symbolic of certain cultures.

  3. I find your post particularly interesting as I just closed Instagram after scrolling through a ton of celebrities photos from Coachella. As I read your post, I actually feel ashamed of myself for not realizing this earlier. As you said, many people see these fashion styles on celebrities and they think that they are super cool new trends, however, very few people take the time to stop and question whether they are objectifying someone else’s culture. I remember Native American pieces being a huge topic of conversation a few years ago for Halloween. It was after Freakfest that I heard a few girls saying that their friend got yelled at for wearing and Indian-girl outfit to the concerts. Personally, I looked an Indian-girl outfit before Halloween and thought it would be super cute to dress up in. However, as I reminisce on that, I realize that it speaks a lot to cultural appropriation and how harmful it can be to various cultures. Many of these pieces are symbolic of traditions and beliefs and pretending to dress up as a (slutty) Indian and go out to drink with friends could be seen as disrespectful.

  4. This is a very relevant topic and something that I contemplate a lot while seeing these outfits on social media and at music festivals. I think society needs to work more actively to restrict major celebrities from perpetuating this toxic cycle of cultural appropriation. It seems to me that many young festival goers use Coachella as an excuse to discriminate against marginalized groups. I am shocked that trends like this are still embedded in American culture and we need to work towards educating people who don’t understand why it is so wrong.

  5. I think this is an awesome post! Before I came to college and started taking classes about culture, racism, and different parts of the world, I had heard the term cultural appropriation, but wasn’t really sure what it meant, and I think this is the problem that many of these girls at music festivals (like coachella) have. Chances are, the girls wearing the headpieces are not intending to directly offend Native American tribes, but due to their lack of knowledge about the culture, they don’t realize the full extent of the effects that their outfits choices will have.

  6. Hi Olivia — great article! I, myself, have always wanted to attend Coachella, and I am looking forward to attending Lollapalooza this summer, too! As of recently, I feel as if social media and technologic advancements have definitely influenced the notion of cultural appropriation because greater amounts of people within a social media network can access different photographs and content that can be depicted as offensive. Like you mentioned in your article, I think a vast majority of individuals that participate on social media platforms purposefully seek out information about the newest styles and trends so they can fit in. I think it is important to adjust perspectives when it comes to cultural appropriation and observe ourselves from the viewpoint of others. If we follow through with the idea of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” then I think that there would be an increase in awareness of cultural appropriation, resulting in a decrease of offensive depictions pertaining to certain cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

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