A picture speaks a thousand words, but when it’s on your Tinder profile it speaks a million. You don’t want the first impression of you to be that you’re culturally insensitive or tone-deaf, but the reality is some people need to be schooled in what is and isn’t appropriate content. I’m not talking about nudes, I’m talking about cultural appropriation. And it’s not only annoying, it’s downright offensive. So, get it off your damn profile.
Cultural appropriation is defined as unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, or ideas of another culture. I define it as cherry-picking what you like about another culture without taking on the challenges that come with being a part of it. When the dominant group appropriates a culture they have systematically oppressed, it reaches a whole new level of offensiveness.
If you think we’re all just being too sensitive, then this story isn’t for you. Go about your business and continue to be the Rachel Dolezal of Tinder. But if you want to be woke, then it’s time to educate yourself on why these four things are totally inappropriate to put in your Tinder profile.
1. Chopsticks In Hair
If you went rogue at Coachella and put chopsticks in your hair, you should be frantically erasing all evidence instead of broadcasting it in your profile. First of all, this traditional Japanese hairstyle uses kanzashi hair sticks, not chopsticks. This isn’t culture borrowing, it’s cultural appropriation: Use the chopsticks for sushi and put a friggin’ scrunchy in your hair if you want to jump on the wave of ’90s comeback trends. Also, scrunchies are dope.
2. Box Braids
Sorry, you don’t get to enjoy box braids without living with the dangers of being black in this country. They aren’t just braids — they are a protective hairstyle that black Americans use not just for fashion, but also to promote hair growth. They were worn by slaves because styles needed to last all week, and they can be traced back to Africa. There’s a slew of history and discrimination that comes with this hairstyle; black women are still being fired from jobs for wearing their hair this way. Appropriating them for the sake of your Caribbean vacation is hella whack. Pro tip: Get a crown braid.
Cool pic of you in a sombrero guzzling down a margarita on Cinco de Mayo. Oh wait, except it’s not. Sombreros are a cultural symbol for Mexicans and reflect the social and economic status of the wearer from the brim to the bling. They were originally made to protect against the extreme sun. And spoiler alert: There are plenty of hats and SPFs that do this without appropriating a culture. Unless you’re Mexican, you’re basically turning another’s identity into a stereotype for your own amusement.
4. White Locs
While dreadlocks have been historically linked to ancient Egypt, Germanic tribes, Vikings, and Pacific Islanders, the term comes from Rastafarianism. It’s a sign of African identity and a religious vow, and it’s another hairstyle commonly worn by black Americans. Since black people are still being fired from jobs and expelled from schools for wearing locs, when someone from the dominant group appropriates the look for fashion’s sake without the same retribution, it’s incredibly hurtful.