A Deeper Look at Festival Beauty's Cultural Appropriation Problem

Beauty comes with a special freedom of expression, which can be liberating and empowering. You have the power to express yourself with the style in which you choose to wear your hair and makeup. The power of beauty goes beyond what meets the eye and reflects something much deeper. Within the world of beauty lie strong cultural symbols that reflect rich historical references. It becomes an issue when cultural symbols of beauty become materialized into the latest trend or beauty statement to make for a good Instagram photo. And one of the most vivid forms of beauty exploitation happens at music festivals.

Cultural appropriation is when cultural elements of a minority culture are borrowed or stolen by members of a dominant culture and taken out of context. In the midst of Coachella, one of the biggest music festivals in the world, we fawn over the drop-dead-gorgeous beauty looks, but we can't help but also acknowledge the blatant racism that shows up every season. Without fail, festivalgoers appropriate beauty looks from other cultures with no regard or regard for their historical significance. Instead, they're falsely advertised as "festival beauty trends," captured on camera, and then disseminated via blogs, websites, and social media feeds. The flimsy, recreational use of culturally loaded symbols like bindis, headdresses, and cornrows are inexcusable, and here's why.