WEARING WHILE CARING
As the Splore community gets ready for New Zealand’s greatest dress up party, it’s time to have an open conversation about the global concerns around festival wear and cultural appropriation. We love the richness of eclectic clothing influences, inspired designs, and the downright craziness you all bring to Tapapakanga, so we want to encourage your creativity while making Splore a culturally respectful space for everyone to enjoy.
CULTURE IS NOT A COSTUME
We encourage everyone to first consider what cultural appropriation means and to be mindful of this before they come to Splore.
Cultural appropriation happens when a culturally important garment or sacred symbol is worn as a costume or fashion trend, and is stripped of its significance and context, especially when items from a minority culture are worn by someone from a colonial culture.
There’s a fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. We want Splorers to lead the way in navigating these issues by having a healthy conversation about the possible impacts of your costume choices. While some people might call it politically correct, we just call it showing respect and love for your fellow humans!
How can you avoid cultural appropriation? If you admire a culture, but you're not an active participant within those communities, then it's always best to ask questions and to respect the voices of the people who are caretakers of that cultural knowledge.
Yes to Personal EXPRESSION
No to Ethnic or racial stereotypes
Think twice before getting dressed up in traditional clothing from cultures that aren't your whakapapa. Using a person's cultural heritage as a party costume can be hurtful, and it's easy to avoid! We know that you're creative enough to invent new styles and blow some minds. There are plenty of ways to explore a connection to nature, mysticism, mana, and spirituality. Channel your powerful inner vibe: be bold, be subtle, be unexpected!
Yes to Indigenous SolidaritY
No to Feathered war bonnets
In the traditions of many Native American tribes, women don’t wear war bonnets (often a major faux pas at festivals around the world). They are traditionally reserved for men and two-spirits, and in many tribes each single feather is earned through an act of bravery. Wearing a war bonnet is the same as wearing a medal you didn’t earn: it’s disrespectful and it belittles the people who actually earned them. Show your admiration and solidarity in other ways: respect for the land, support for indigenous rights, and promoting love and understanding.
Yes to sparkly adornment
No to BINDIS OR ‘TRIBAL style’ facepaint
Summer festivals are awash with beautiful happy faces covered in sparkles and patterns of every kind. But it would be a tragedy if the accessories and designs that accentuate your happy face bring sadness to the faces of others! Non-Hindu women wearing bindis, or non-indigenous people wearing 'tribal style' facepaint: these things can make others feel disrespected, so channel your own imagination instead!
Wearing a bindi on the forehead is an ancient Hindu tradition with deep religious significance, not a cute festival accessory! And many tribespeople from around the world paint their faces with sacred designs that communicate their heritage and mana. Adornment is as old as time; stay fresh and encourage your own creative interpretations!
YES TO EMPATHY
NO TO DISRESPECT
Every culture has faced their struggles and victories, with symbols that reference and represent these times. Once you realise this, the elements and symbols have context and make more sense within the bigger picture. Once you know what the symbols you are wearing mean, you can better understand what that might communicate to the humans around you. If people have taken the time to explain that copying elements of their culture is disrespectful and hurtful, then we can take the time to listen!
STAY OPEN TO LEARNING
What strengthens my mana and inspires my own sense of self?
What do I find most meaningful and how can I express that in my own way?
Do I really need to copy from other cultures to express myself?
Am I honouring the knowledge of indigenous peoples and their cultural heritage?
If people have specifically asked that others not appropriate certain elements of their cultural heritage, do I have the sensitivity and humility to listen?
How can I help my friends and the wider festival community better channel their inner magnificence?
We can't get everything right every time! You can have the best of intentions, but the important thing is showing grace and humility when someone presents a different viewpoint. If we stay open and communicate with respect and love, we'll all learn and grow together.
AND SHARE THE LOVE!
Check out these articles if you wish to learn more: