In response to Sitara*’s response to “Opinon: this is not my rang”, an anonymous writer offers a further addition to the ongoing conversation about cultural appropriation in St Andrews.
It would be wise to start by pointing out that the first article did not demean the charity, the work, or benefit Sitara* contributes to the cause. Rather, the main argument was that the country of origin of the garments you are showcasing and where the charity is located are different. It seems reasonable to assume that the committee should do everything it can in its power to make sure that the garments presented (fusion or not) are not culturally insensitive. Essentially, it can be considered in the following terms: it is as if one was raising money for a charity in Kenya but showcased Zimbabwean clothes, or suppose the purpose was to support a charity in Romania, but the organisation showcased Russian clothes. The point is, there is a disparity and there is a turbulent history, so what Sitara* promotes and showcases needs to be looked at multiple times.
Moreover, the article did not advocate for the exclusion of Caucasian models but instead attempted to convey the fact that because there is already a big problem with diversity in St Andrews, and this is one of the few more diverse events, it is important that the minority is given a chance to shine, instead of acting as a backdrop for their own culture. Likewise, the argument in regard to ‘why can’t eastern fashion be bound to the same rules as western fashion’ is invalid due to deep-seated cultural differences existing in South Asia which Sitara* should be aware of, if not sensitive to in the first place. There is also a certain issue of colourism – when most South Asian views of beauty are Eurocentric and skin bleaching is a sad reality partly due to colonisation. It can therefore be damaging to have Western models in the forefront carrying South Asian cultures.
Furthermore, the initial article did not ask to police what women wear, which this Sitara* response seems to have extrapolated out of nowhere but, instead it was meant to serve as a reminder to the organisers that Indian culture is modest and conservative. This was not an attack on Sitara* as a show, but an attempt to highlight the fact that that it has appropriated culture and that it can do better. The current premise of Sitara* can be considered just short of what Gucci has done this year with its models.
It is a shame that the Sitara* committee has decided to take a very defensive stance on the matter instead of taking into account people’s views and trying to promote true inclusivity. By contrast, it might be wise to look into what can be done in the future to avoid appropriating cultures.
*Note: the image used to showcase this article is knowingly from a 2018 Gucci fashion show (the show mentioned in this article)