Gwen Stefani is a true style icon. The woman looks stunning whether she is playing in the park with her kids or performing on stage. Unfortunately, she has a fatal flaw in her wardrobe choices: She tends to be a fan of cultural appropriation. The singer posted new photos to her Instagram account that showed her dressed in Native American-style clothing and it was enough for one fan to finally put her in her place.
The commenter’s main point was, “There’re so many other ways to be creative than to take very recognizable pieces of other cultures and exploit them. When indigenous cultures get upset it’s because our cultures are not costumes or fashion statements.”
From her famous bindi in the No Doubt days to her most recent photos, it is easy to see how Stefani could be labeled as a star who frequently practices cultural appropriation.
I don’t think the argument is that black and white, though. If we give her the benefit of the doubt, Stefani is probably trying to create new styles, expose people to the beauty of other cultures and step outside the box. You can’t fault her for being inspired by other cultures and paying homage to their style.
What you can fault her for, however, is not taking the time to research what she is wearing herself and what she’s dressing her dancers in. We live in an age where we have access to instant answers from people all around the world, so surely she could fact check some of her style choices. If she wanted to celebrate Hindu culture, she could have picked something less sacred than the bindi. If she needed to know how to make Native American style mainstream, she could have asked a group of them what is OK and what is off limits completely.
I think it’s close-minded and unfair to limit people’s wardrobe options by the culture they were born into. But I also agree that a little research and compassion should go into choosing what you’re going to wear, especially if you’re Gwen Stefani.