Why “Bindis” Should Not Be a Fashion Trend

Why “Bindis” Should Not Be a Fashion Trend
Junior Fatima Farha reflecting on her junior year.

Fashion trends are ongoing. One day it’ll be something, and the next day it will be something else, and that is completely fine. There is nothing wrong with fashion, and there is nothing wrong with the trends that people set. However, there is a limit, a limit that requires respecting people’s cultures, heritage, traditions, and most importantly, what can be fashion and what can’t.

In the past couple of months, I have seen a rising fashion trend of the bindi, a gem worn on the forehead between the eyebrows. On fashion websites, I’ve seen these bindis sold as sticky gems that can just be stuck to the forehead, sold in different shapes and colors, in different designs.

The bindis have grown prominence and many girls have started wearing them. Just last weekend, Selena Gomez decided to sport a huge bindi during her performance at the MTV Movie Awards for her new single, “Come and Get It.”

The girls who wear it call the bindi “exotic” and find it very cool because it is a part of the Indian culture, and they think it’s pretty. The funny part is, none of the girls who actually wear the bindi in terms of this fashion trend are Indian. Or even close to South Asians.

So where did this “exotic” bindi come from? The bindi is a forehead decoration worn by women in South Asia. It comes from the Hindu culture and religion, so the majority of the women who wear it are South Asian Hindus.

The bindi can symbolize many aspects of the Hindu culture, but from the beginning it has always been a red dot worn on the forehead, most commonly to represent a married woman. The bindi is also said to be the third eye in Hindu religion, and it can be used to ward off bad luck. The women who wear it in India wear it with some representation of their own culture, whether it’s because they’re married, or if they have another cultural tie to it.

As times progressed, the bindi acquired more designs, and today there are many different kinds of bindis that women wear, with different colors and designs to match their daily outfits, or fancy ones for their fancy dresses. However, at the end of the day, it is a part of their culture, and they wear with that significance.

The women who wear it today, in the Western countries, are not wearing it with that culture in mind. Instead, they wear it because it looks exotic and they try to be trendy, but do they even know what the cultural significance is?

A bindi has a lot of significance to the women who wear it in South Asia, and by not keeping that in mind, the women who wear it here and who are not from South Asia are disrespecting it to a very high degree. They are culturally appropriating the bindi.

Cultural appropriation is a term that defines the adoption of a minority’s culture by the dominant culture. The dominant culture takes the minority’s culture, or a part of it, and makes it seem menial, without any of the significance that it was supposed to have.

Even though many people think that adopting aspects of another culture can be thought of as “sharing,” that doesn’t justify not respecting what that object means in the actual culture it was stolen from. And the reason it is so frustrating is because the dominant culture does not have to suffer any racism because of it.

When Hindu women in the United States wear the bindi, people love to make fun of them. I have heard a countless number of jokes about the bindi. If you watch “Family Guy,” and even if you don’t, you’ve probably seen the scene where Peter Griffin asks his neighbor whether he uses the “red button” on his wife’s forehead as a remote control to shut her up. When people in the Western countries, such as America, see an actual Indian woman wearing the bindi, she is coined as a fob, a backwards and old-fashioned person who does not know how to embrace the American culture.

But somehow, when the dominant culture in America decides to adopt this “trend,” they are called exotic and beautiful. The stigma that the South Asian women face because of their cultural identity choices is very offensive, and it hurts more when people who aren’t even from this culture wear it and don’t get any heat.

Coming from personal experience, I can’t identify with this struggle more. Growing up, I would see people making fun of my mom and I for wearing our traditional outfits when we would go out for parties. However, when I see the the others wear it, I hear people giving them the greatest compliments. And that doesn’t make sense to me. Why are they being exotic and creative, while I am being ridiculed for embracing an aspect of my culture?

When Selena Gomez wore that bindi and decided to go on stage and dance to a song in which the lyrics do not go with the music at all, she was insulting every single South Asian woman. This is cultural appropriation. It is no different from adorning Native American moccasins and headdresses. If you have ever taken a history class, you know how badly the Native Americans were treated because of their culture, a culture that was very different from the Western culture. They were tortured, asked to abandon their heritage, and assimilate into the white dominant culture.

So today, when people from the dominant culture decide to wear those clothes and try to be exotic and treat them like Halloween costumes, it is offensive. The argument that people are just “honoring” them is ridiculous because at one time in American history, the natives were considered filth.

In the same way, trying to adopt the Indian culture while not understanding the significance of that culture is wrong. It is important to think twice before wearing garments and other objects of another culture; it is necessary to understand that these items can really mean something to the people of that culture.

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  1. avatar

    I am in India now and Hindu women are trying to sell white, foreign females sparkly bindis. So I’m not sure it offends every Hindu. Also after having my Ayurvedic massage in a nontourist area of Kochi a few days ago the ladies did my make up, hair, asked if I was married and did the appropriate bindi, people were friendly on the street on I went and had dinner like it and no one seemed unhappy. So again I’m not sure it offends them that a white, English female has one. People travel a lot and are actually probably more educated on cultures than you think, being a foreigner in America I would imagine you would be aware of this and be more open minded to people adapting and embracing other cultures. Sounds to me like you just don’t like Selena! 😉

  2. avatar

    I am white and from America, does that mean I can’t we’re one, I’m Buddhist and I want to show it in a chakra sence but I feel like people will get mad at me bc I’m white and I’m not from India, I do know what it symbolizes so can I we’re it? Damn now I feel like I’m going to offend people some one please reply

  3. avatar

    Hello! I would first like to state on behaf of my self and other liked minded caring individuals, I truly respect your culture. I am sorry and saddened to hear that you and other women have been at the end of crud jokes and disrespect. Im 25 years old and find such beauty in your culture as well as the Bindi. I would also like you to know not all westerners wear the Bindi or are contemplating wearing then, as I have recently been, are intending, nor do we mean any disrespect. I have personally been going through an incredible spiritual transformation and with the Bindi as representation of the third eye, I feel a pull to the idea of wearing one in significance of my enlightened journey. I feel it is a souful expression and I respect those who wear them in the same embrace, as well as other cultural reasons. I find it magical. I hope this message is clear, I mean no disrespecy to anyone.. this is from my heart. All humans and all cultures are beautiful. Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. -Megan

    • avatar

      What about Wiccans? It is widely used and accepted in Wiccan society. It is worn at or near the third eye. It wards off bad luck and reminds of the sacred nature of each person. Is this offensive towards those of the hindu culture? Because it’s not being used as a “trend” or “exotic,” it has an actual meaning, it’s just not as known or accepted.

  4. Jyoti

    Hi there – I hear you so much here.

    I wish to ask some advice. My daughter has experienced some ‘hate’ on her social media when she wears a bindi in some of her shots. She was 12 years old at the time mind you. My father is from Hyderabad. We grew up with both Christian and Hindu values with my mother being Irish and French Canadian. Trinity (my daughter) embraces the culture, loves being part Indian although not immersed in the Hindu culture with my white Christian husband who by the way has taught her to cook South Indian cooking. I am frankly hopeless in the kitchen. She feels the bindi is a sign of beauty and wards off some bad juju. So my question is – do you think she is ok to express her love of her coolest and most beautiful roots (in her words)? I am glad she hasn’t forgotten this part within her. I have to say I do get much flack in India when I go being half and half – and when I was a kid I was called alot of derogatory names for being Indian – but I have taught my kids to LOVE everything about Inida and their background. I would love to hear and respect your opinion on this. Thanks you, Jyoti

    • avatar

      I really enjoyed your Blog! I found it very insightful, and meant as a way of educating and sensitizing people about the issues of non-majority groups in the US. I used to teach “Diversity in American Society” at a university in Chicago, and “Hispanics in the US” at a university in Michigan, so I understand what you are saying regarding the issue of respect and appropriation. The truth is that my students were/are completely oblivious about all issues pertaining to individuals and groups belonging to minority groups in the US! I’d point out the issue of “we love Mexican food, but we hate Mexican immigrants, they need to go back to their country!” Thank you for your insight!

  5. avatar

    All the people saying that non westerners taking western clothing and wearing it in their home countries is cultural appropriation – it’s not the same! Western countries have a white majority that have never experienced racism or oppression unlike ethnic minorities. You will have never been mocked or discriminated against for wearing high street or designer clothing. Whereas black people who have dreadlocks, Asians who where bindis, henna etc have all been discriminated against. That is why it is so disrespectful and hurtful to see white people who get white privilege wearing these things as a fashion statement and being praised for it. It’s so ignorant, and it’s very typical of you to come on this post claiming that it’s not offensive etc. Well you don’t get to decide if someone gets offended when you steal parts of their culture/religion when you don’t honour and respect or understand it!

    • Cathy Thompson

      I had no idea that non- Indian or non- Hindu people were making this a trend. Thia is very informative. I know we have missionaries in Africa that where their traditional outfits when they visit the US but again, is different. They live there and have for 4 years and they care for 50 plus children, aging from newborn to 18. These kids are from Africa with no parents. They are doing this out of respect. Getting the news out and educating people on what is not offensive is good. I would not want to disrespect anyone concerning their culture and religion anymore than I would want them to disrespect me. Thank you all for educating people and sharing your feelings so others like me, that care, don’t inadvertantly dishonor your clothing or cultural dress. I care about all people regardless. God commanded us to Love one another. We all should do that whether you believe or not. Just a good way to be.

  6. avatar

    Hello. I’m sorry for your suffering at people’s insensitivity to an important part of your life, culture, and traditions. If you can, the best way to deal with that, I’ve found, is try and ignore those who are just “following the masses” new fashion trends, or whatever reason they decided to change their minds about a very important part of a large majority of humanity’s culture and heritage, like you said, without any obvious other reasons, and started wearing them. Also, (from what I’ve heard and read anyways, and I could be wrong, but it makes sense to me) a lot of people are actually started wearing that type of jewelry for meditation/raising the consciousness through Kundalini Yoga/healing for the body and soul purposes (although, I think they call them Intuitive Eyes, Third Eye or Chakra Jewelry when worn for this reason). I thought that was great, that at least there are people out there who don’t do things just because it’s “the popular thing to do now, even though they had an opposing/no opinion about it before that, but choose to do something for their own reasons. I don’t know how you feel about it, but maybe they changed the name, not just to reflect the personal reasons for wearing the jewelry, but also to acknowledge that the bindi is special and sacred in it’s own right, even though the placement is the same, the two are different, but unique, symbols of each other. As for the others, it’s hard for me not to feel sad, and a little confused, that so many people have no reason, other than “they do it”, for the way they live their life. It will forever be a mystery to me. But hopefully this helped, have a good day. 🙂

    • Lia

      Oops, my bad, sorry, didn’t mean to post that twice. The browser froze. Oh, well. Namaste (The Divine within me recognizes, and bows, to the Divine within you :D) everyone! Peace and much love.

  7. avatar

    I am part indian part black,persons of this mixture are referred to as douglas, I am from Jamaica and i respect the indian culture, i do understand what the author is saying, i use to wear the jewel bindis when doing indian dances but i didn’t know the true meaning, so after research i do understand the meaning of it and i will not wear it unless i wear it with meaning. I’m not religious but if I ever want to settle with a religion it would be Hinduism or Buddhism as they do not discriminate and they deal with peace. I soo dislike Christianity

    • Lia

      Hello. I’m sorry for your suffering at people’s insensitivity to an important part of your life, culture, and traditions. If you can, the best way to deal with that, I’ve found, is try and ignore those who are just “following the masses” new fashion trends, or whatever reason they decided to change their minds about a very important part of a large majority of humanity’s culture and heritage, like you said, without any obvious other reasons, and started wearing them. Also, (from what I’ve heard and read anyways, and I could be wrong, but it makes sense to me) a lot of people are actually started wearing that type of jewelry for meditation/raising the consciousness through Kundalini Yoga/healing for the body and soul purposes (although, I think they call them Intuitive Eyes, Third Eye or Chakra Jewelry when worn for this reason). I thought that was great, that at least there are people out there who don’t do things just because it’s “the popular thing to do now, even though they had an opposing/no opinion about it before that, but choose to do something for their own reasons. I don’t know how you feel about it, but maybe they changed the name, not just to reflect the personal reasons for wearing the jewelry, but also to acknowledge that the bindi is special and sacred in it’s own right, even though the placement is the same, the two are different, but unique, symbols of each other. As for the others, it’s hard for me not to feel sad, and a little confused, that so many people have no reason, other than “they do it”, for the way they live their life. It will forever be a mystery to me. But hopefully this helped, have a good day. 🙂

  8. avatar

    The whole idea of this article is not saying that only Hindu people can wear a bindi, it’s about respecting the purpose of it in someone’s culture and religion. This article does not encourage restricting other races or religions from wearing it, but simply asking people to respect other people’s believes on the bindi, and not to use it as a fashion object because of the cultural meaning behind it. Even if we do not agree with what someone believes in, we must always respect it. I hope that the people who are complaining about this article do understand this, and be more supportive towards the whole cultural appropriation idea.

  9. avatar

    Tired of all the crybabies with no right to tell people what to do. I’ll do or not do as I wish…with respect and good manners and respect the choice of others. Including the ignorant, the bad mannered or disrespectful … like the author of this ridiculousness. ?

  10. avatar

    Well I’ll never wearing anything from another culture or even get a piercing again so I don’t offend anyone
    Hope you got the sarcasm

  11. avatar

    Why is a muslim woman getting angry about bindis? She’s not a Hindu. If people who are not Hindu are not allowed to wear a bindi, then she has no business writing an article about it and trying to police who gets to partake in a culture she’s not a part of.

    One would say she is appropriating an issue that has nothing to do with her: what right does she have to appoint herself the moral guardian of Hindu culture? If the bindi is of special significance to Hindu people, then only Hindu people have the right to wear it: not all “south asians” as if they are one simple ethnic group with the same culture. It’s pretty arrogant to speak for an entire culture you are not a part of.

    • avatar

      You Have No Right Telling Her She Has No Right. She Has Just As Much Right As Everyone In The Country For Freedom Of Speech. She Is Appointing Cultural Appropriation Because She Is A Minority and Knows How It Can Be To Have Her Culture Ripped Away From Her. So If You Were Offended By Her and I’s Post Then Keep The Shoes On Because They Obviously Fit.

  12. avatar

    As a Black female I can relate. When I wear my natural hair in braids, of wrap my hair. I am questioned. Shamed And ridiculed. But let a celebrity do it. It’s all of a sudden acceptable for them, fashion forward, to be, admired while for me I still get stares. I can completely relate

  13. avatar
    Avery Mae

    I am Dutch and Southeast Asian. Yeah, that means my skin is very pale. But I enjoy bindis and their association with the Third Eye and warding off bad luck. I do not want to offend anyone by wearing them. I am torn between wearing them nearly daily or not at all because of the comments I may get from those who believe I am too light skinned. It frustrates me very much because I am interested in my heritage and feel it is my right. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • avatar

      Wear your bindi. I am completely Caucasian, and I truly love and respect the Hindu culture. I am married and meditate daily, I wear a bindi daily to represent my marriage and my third eye. I too get strange looks all the time for it, I live in a small country town where it is not accepted. However, I still believe it is essential for me to wear one. I’ve chosen a bindi over a wedding ring.
      I completely understand where the author is coming from, but there has to be exceptions. Not every girl or woman in America who wears a bindi is wearing it to be “exotic”, while there are many of them that do not understand the significance, there has to be exceptions. Just as I also wear a pair of deer hide moccasins an old fiend made for me in the winter. I am not trying to “dress up” as a Native American. I completely respect their culture and everyone’s cultures of the world. There are good and bad people of this world. We all need to respect one another’s decisions.

    • avatar
      Anastasia B

      My skin is also very fair, however I have always respected my Indian heritage. I have my left nostril pierced only after careful research, for my union. Many people have the nostril piercing for fashion but i wear mine without fashion in mind, it is a symbol. I am very intrigued with body modification, and am planning my bindi implant. I know I will get a lot of comments. and perhaps i can help some curious person learn something new. I don’t like the fashion trend! I like honoring heritage and religion. I choose to where my bindi on my fair skin with my head held high.

      • avatar
        Thank you :)

        Thank you, thank you

  14. avatar

    However, does this mean that if there weren’t any racism and discrimination, it’d be OK for everyone to use whatever they wanted?

  15. avatar

    I guess the author of this article must hate George Harrison. But I wouldn’t consider him an appropriator of culture at all, since he was heavily invested in Indian culture, and I believe he even became a Hindu. He also used his platform as a celebrity to organize the Concert for Bangladesh.

  16. avatar

    I wear what I want and think everyone else should .. as well .. Let people live and enjoy each others ways , foods, spirit ,and so on .. People want to control everything and everyone gets so Insulted these days ,, Silly if you ask me , Someone copies someone else’s ways . Take it as a complement , Plus How do it hurt you ,, Im going to wear A COWBOY HAT TODAY and I dont even own a horse ~~

  17. avatar

    I have a question. I am black and Puerto Rican and I practice buddhism, I wouldn’t consider myself a buddhist just yet though. I would like to wear bindis as a representation of my third eye and for luck. Would it be offensive if I were to wear a bindi? I ask because I would hate to offend a culture that I have tons of respect for.

    • avatar

      I feel you have every right being that 1 parent is South Asian. I am not, but I am Hindu. I have been wearing different types of bindis lately. Such as the crystal beaded ones, the different colored felt ones and just kumkum. I live in a predominantly caucasian/white town (I am not). I get stared at, especially by children and a few times I have been laughed at by teen girls. This just shows the ignorance and lack of knowledge people have. Since I am Hindu, I will continue to wear them 🙂

  18. avatar

    I am half Indian and half Norweigian, and I feel like im on both sides of this argument and can take neither. My grandmother have me bindis as a child and told dm there were a symbol of beauty and good luck. Ivd with them all my life since a young age. I’ve been told off by random women presumably of indian decent for wearing them as a teenager! Because I look mostly white. Yet, if an Indian or someone of another race wore a Thor’s hammer I would never even think of it a cultural appropriation. Especially wouldn’t tell them off as a stranger.

  19. avatar

    Im of caribbean/Jamaican and Nigerian /Yoruba heritage…..I wear Bindis for cutural and spiritual purposes . Bindis also can be found in ancient Kemet aka egypt. India /Hindustan was also connected to east Africa at one point ( Hindu Kush) . There is a lot of history not being added in the article and how or where the Bindi originated. I am a so called “Black ” Indigenous woman and I wear Bindis and in no way shape or form do I see it as a fashion trend. Western existence is based on taking everything from non westerners and ideolizing it for profit!!!!!!!

    • avatar

      “Western existence is based on taking everything from non westerners and ideolizing it for profit!!!!!!!” what an ignorant and ridiculous statement. Westerners have been developing and progressing the world for the past few centuries . It has certainly not been entirely based on “taking from non westerners”. They were making huge breakthroughs without needing to “take from non westerners” There is no doubt that they have exploited certain peoples, but really every successful culture takes advantage of others in some form or another. This doesn’t make it right, but to demonize western culture is ignorant and hypocritical.

    • avatar

      Khem you are correct and hit the nail right on. I was thinking that the Bindis was also worn in Egypt.

  20. avatar

    I am hindu. and I dont wear a bindi. lol. my mum does. going by the writer’s logic asians should not wear western clothing. ! lol. because thats not part of the initial culture. haha. the best part about globalisation is you can wear anything you want as long as you like it. lets not put these cultural bans. please. ! and lets stop being such fanatic. who cares about the origin, the past. lets focus on the future. thats it mates. !

    • avatar

      But there is literally no negativity or cultural significance of western clothes??

  21. avatar

    I’m Jamaican but my aunts Indian I’ve told her about my pass experiences and she made me a bindi to wear for to keep away bad luck, and o wore it to work and this white women said like your Christmas tree, it made me mad because it was insulting to me and made me also think of the women who do wear there’s religiously and get tease because of it. But a black man asked me when it was but was like are your Hindu and I feel like mostly white people are ignorant about other people’s culture Etc not all but most ????

  22. avatar

    I am christian and I dont say people who wear clothing or jewelry with a cross on them appropriating my religion even though i always use the sign if the cross for things on a daily basis. People can wear bindi’s and respect and appreciate the beauty of it.

  23. avatar

    Excuse me? I’m a hindu and bindis do not symbolise a married woman only. Please do your research before this. Seriously.

    • avatar

      If you’re Hindu why is your name Alex? And she said that it doesn’t only represent a married woman so please read carefully before this. Seriously.

      • avatar

        Hindu is a religion not a culture. Alex may not be a South Asian or Indian Hindu, in which case has the name Alex.

  24. avatar

    I absolutely respect the Hindu culture , but I’ve done lots of research on the bindi sticker to make sure it’s ok for me to wear it without being Hindu . Honestly I wear it to ward off bad luck and that’s it .

    • avatar

      Calling it a sticker is offensive. So you probably shouldn’t wear it.

      • avatar

        Easily offended and easily judging people! : “You can’t be Hindu and called Alex. You should not wear bindi”. Overall you seem very uptight, judgemental and ignorant. Sticker version of the bindi can be found in shops nowadays, so what’s wrong with saying bindi sticker?

  25. avatar

    Hi, I have a few questions here. I just want to see if my use of a bindi would be considered cultural appropriation.
    So I was born into a Christian family, but did not practice the religion at all, in fact I spent more time studying my dreams and connecting with nature. I studied the chakras, astral projection, and meditation. I felt connected to Hinduism, but also connected to other religions, cultures and philosophies. Many of them share the same morals, and those I live by. I have actually had dreams where Ganesh and Saraswati appeared in them, and Green Tara. Dance is my main form of meditation, and I study classical Indian and belly dance. When I wear a bindi, it is for a performance, for a song that has deep spiritual meaning. When I do counselling, I wear a bindi, and also during moon ceremonies.
    So I would like to know if this is offensive?
    I am not trying to be trendy, and even I was in shock when I saw many people wearing them who didn’t even know what a chakra was, or even what the third eye is.

  26. avatar

    I know what a bindi is. I know it’s significance. I am white. We are all citizens of this planet, this time around. While my culture is not South Asian this time around, I know that I have had at least one lifetime as an Indian man (as I had a spontaneous regression). I believe in reincarnation, and I believe that we will be a part of many different cultures and both sexes, throughout our lifetimes on Earth. So, yes, be sensitive to other peoples’ experiences. It goes both ways. I will be sensitive to you, but to say that marking the forehead belongs to only your group, is xenophobic.

    • avatar

      XENOPHOBIC, lol. no one dislikes you because you’re from another country or culture, people dislike you because you’re TAKING something that has deep meaning to someone and claiming it as yours. “citizens of the planet” lol go live in india, marry into a hindu family, and then claim the religion as yours. otherwise stay out of it – because you HAVE to recognize that as a white person, you have privilege. you are legitimizing the use of the bindi by white people. and we can’t have that happening. YOU may identify as a hindu, but most white people don’t. and if you use it, you’re encouraging or allowing others to use it too. and it loses its symbolism.

      • avatar

        I’m sorry that is wrong. People of any race and any location can be whatever religion they want, so saying when white people associate themselves and actively take part in that religion encouraging other people to see a different culture make it “lose its symbolism.” By joining a religion or believing in a certain meaning does not mean you are “taking” something. The meaning of a bindi or something else with a deep meaning doesn’t belong to one group, one race, or one location. What you have said is that you can’t be hindu unless you “live in India” or “marry into a hindu family” which is wrong. No one says you have to live in Asia to be a certain religion, so why do you have to live in India to be hindu. I can understand the frustration of people misusing something with deep meaning like a bindi, but I don’t believe you have to be india, or hindu to wear them. I believe that it is fine to wear a bindi if you believe in its meaning and you don’t have to hindu for that.

        • avatar
          Sherry Sam

          I love my country. I alone genetically share DNA with people from approx 15 different countries. As a result of my ancestors migration to this country which is made up of many many different cultures I do not have just one influence or tradition. Those who come here from other places need to be informed this is a new birth of a nation. We all bring something to the table and a new culture will arise in time. This is a process I suggest you either embrace with respect and excitement or maybe rethink your choice decision to live in the UNITED STATES

      • avatar

        Anyone can be any religion they want, but people are born into a culture. There is a difference between religion and culture!

  27. avatar

    okay so what if you’re from America and you’re a white female who wears the bindi because she’s married to a Hindu man. I know of the Penal gland the third eye also the culture I am white. Am I being disrespectful?

  28. avatar

    Fantastic article. I’m an indian woman and I agree with this 10000000%! It annoys me to see my religion being turned into a fashion statement. If you’re a Hindu, I don’t have a problem. If you’re in India, then I don’t have a problem. But when I see groups of girls my age wearing them, it just makes me cringe. They don’t know the significance of bindis, and that makes me sad.

    • avatar

      I’m West Indian and I love bindis my grandfather is Indian but grew up in Jamaica so my mother is indo Jamaican it upsets me if a Indian women walks by with a bindi people stare and look but if a white person does it it’s cool it’s not fair

  29. avatar

    I think this article is ridiculous…no one race has a monopoly over Hindu/Indian culture…I think the issue of ‘cultural sensitivity’ is being stretched a little too far here! If anything, as a Hindu I would welcome anybody who embraces my culture.

  30. avatar

    OMGGGGG yes. that is all. just..yes. I agree 500000%

  31. avatar
    Poornima Subramanian

    i speak as a born and raised hindu from a very conservative south-indian family. I think its funny that this article was written by a muslim, a culture where the bindi is forbidden. muslims may not be, but every indian I know is so eager to share their culture and excited when white people want to learn about it. white people are entirely capable of being hindu and/or educated about the meaning and significance of the bindi, and thereby capable of wearing it gracefully and respectfully. if someone is ignorant or racist, that is the fault of their thinking not what they are wearing. I love wearing my bindi because I feel it connects me to the women in my family, my grandmothers and ancestors. sure there are people who trivialize it by not being conscientious of its significance but I actually think its pretty harmless. It certainly makes me feel LESS self-conscious and more free to express my religion and heritage in america. So all in all, I think white ladies wearing bindi is a GREAT thing, I certainly loved wearing my bindi as a 8 year old watching gwen stefani in the 90’s. people need to stop finding every excuse to be upset/complain.

    • avatar
      jesenia khan

      Lol yes I totally agree with u Poornima!! I love u for what u said! I agree with u 100% ! My Muslim Fijian Husband and I laughed at this article!! You stole the words right out of my mouth! U go girl!!

      • avatar
        Poornima Subramanian

        Thank you mrs khan, thank god there are some practical and not-tediously-politically-correct people left in the world. much love 🙂

        • avatar
          Ruth Iram

          Wow, thank you so much for this response. I personally love India and Indian culture although I am a 17 year-old Mexican-American and currently living in Mexico. I am going to wear a Sari for my high school graduation coming up and I wanted to go full out with the Bindi and henna tattoo, but I had to do my research and know exactly what a Bindi represents before wearing it and that was what brought me here. I can say I was so discouraged! As a Mexican, I love seeing when people from other cultures wear our typical Mexican dresses and see people wear charro sombreros. Sometimes we are mocked just like all cultures are mocked but I do not condemn these people for being ignorant, it happens. We are all ignorant in one way or another but I am thankful for articles and insights like these.

  32. avatar

    I absolutely love America as a nation (its not mine) but i think its telling that the people disparaging the article are clearly neither hindu nor indian (with the exception of the lady below). You have failed to see the point she’s making about the reality of their cultural experience being cheapened by popular culture and the double standards at play when people of that culture wear it the way it was created to be worn. Its an extreme view to be too critical of its usage by anyone outside the culture which is why i can’t wholeheartedly support this point of view but let’s be real here, most westerners that use it haven’t the slightest clue what its about. It’s of huge cultural and religious significance. Its an unfortunate legacy of western colonialism and imperialism that still remains where a culture’s unique identity can be used for its exotic value as transiently as any other fashion trend with the voices of minorities being silenced or spoken for by anyone but themselves.

    • avatar
      Ruth Iram

      Thanks for breaking it down, I was feeling greatly discouraged by the article. I’m neither Indian nor Hindu and I respect and admire the culture immensely. I want to wear a sari for a special event and I wanted to try wearing the Bindi but in no means of disrespect or to ridicule Hindu or Indian culture. But now I really understand where this girl is coming from, cheapen like you said is exactly what fashion trends do and it hasn’t happened to just the bindi, our folkloric blouses and tribal Aztec print (I’m Mexican) have also been cheapened by these trends. I can’t be mad at the majority for having poor taste and great ignorance, but there are a few of us who want to wear the bindi in appreciation of its beauty and symbol.

  33. avatar

    So, I’m slightly confused about this whole cultural appropriation thing. I am a white British woman and religious studies student and I have converted to Hinduism. I wear a bindi almost everyday as a symbol of my religion, just like my Grandmother wears a cross as a symbol of her religion.

    So, my question is…is it ok for me to wear a bindi as a Hindu even though I’m white?

  34. avatar

    I would venture to say that Indian/South Asian women wear Western-style clothing and hairstyles, and jewelry styles in their home countries, right?

    Well, should I be chastising your people for taking our clothing and culture and not keeping the American/Western culture in mind? Should I be offended that I see women in those countries wearing Nine West and Ralph Lauren styles?

    What about our products and lifestyles? Dare I mention “Bollywood” copying Hollywood? Yet no one cries foul …or worries about it.

    Appreciation and honor of a culture is a two-way street. If something in your culture was made fun of in the past, but is now in the positive lime-light, maybe adjust your thinking to the idea that while it may not be what you would like to see, but at least the intent is a positive one?

    So what if Selena Gomez wears a bindi? I see people of other cultures/religions wearing and doing things that are traditionally American/Western or even going as far as Catholic or Christian origin. Yet no one bats an eye and just moves on with life.

    • avatar

      Lol are Nine West shoes a religious symbol? Do they have cultural significance? Nah

    • avatar

      There is a difference between pop culture, and symbols that are sacred to one’s identity. Yes, the Bollywood copy of Hollywood is tacky and embarrassing as hell, but there is a difference between that type of appropriation and a woman wearing a bindi as nothing but a fashion accessory. There is a differnce between a non-Hindu woman wearing a bindi with no understanding of its meaning and significance and Indian women wearing Ralph Lauren and Nine West, as American consumer brands are aggressively marketed around the world and American companies aim for those women to wear their products. I, personally feel that it’s ok for people to wear bindis when they understand what it means, and out of respect for the culture of origin, but think it’s tacky and disrespctful to wear it as a superficial fashion accessory.

  35. avatar

    I think this article is a real shame, a lot of western women embrace Hindu culture and incorporate it into their own; the wearing of a bindi as a symbolic representation of their own third eye chakra. It would be nice to think that trend and popular culture could do some good in all of this, an opportunity of creating a familiarity among impressionable people of what a cultural aesthetic represents, I understand that you seem less than impressed by Selena whateverhernameis. But is the point in harmony among humanity not acceptance? And is this article not just another form of separating us all and making us stand apart rather than being a unit? I think this argument hypocritical and flawed.

  36. avatar

    This article is absolutely ridiculous. What if a young woman decided to research bindis, knew the significance and as a result decided that she would wear one and fully respected Hindu traditions in doing so. How would you know that? I have a feeling that you would not bother asking and would be extremely quick to judge. I hope that one day you do confront someone about wearing a bindi and I hope that that person is a bright young girl (or boy) that knows exactly what he/she is wearing it for and has full respect for the Hindu culture. This is just as bad as judging people for wearing any item of clothing. I understand the points made about younger people being bullied but I’d have hoped you would see that a trend such as this may lead to less bullying? Lots of fashion items from different cultures are being embraced as the world develops and I would be proud, not bitter. The world is changing.

  37. avatar

    Given that a number of other cultures throughout history have also worn decorative forehead marks for a variety of reasons, perhaps it would be less offensive if people used a different name? Yes, that was sarcastic. Forehead marks/decorations are not a unique tradition to India.

  38. avatar

    I see the Bindi ridiculed in so much media. I know a game where a creature wears a Bindi, named Espeon, from Pokemon GameBoy. Some sort of psychic cat that wears a Bindi, it’s almost offensive. Unless Bindi’s are downright sacred to the South Asians, I see no issue with this. I’m not one for fashion, but I think self-righteousness abounds, here particularly. You’re being reverse-xenophobic, that’s never a good quality.

  39. avatar

    Where can I get a bindi?

    • avatar

      Ebay…Cheap and you get a lot.

      I wear Bindi’s and I’m a white American!
      There is nothing wrong with it, I completely respect the culture.

    • carolyn Sullivan

      when I visited India a few years ago, the first thing a bookstore owner did was place a bindi on my forehead. She explained it as a Blessing. I thought it was very gracious and wore it all day with pride

  40. avatar

    Non South Asian women wearing bindis merely as “exotic” decoration disrespects the culture by trivializing it. This cultural appropriation, however, also serves to normalize it and make it LESS “other” and less likely to be subject to mockery as in the “Family Guy” episode, unlike wearing it as part of a Halloween costume, which is essentially saying “people who dress like this are weird and funny”. While it is shallow and ridiculous and should not be done, you overstate your case.

    • avatar
      Fatima Farha

      Hi Leslie, but why should the culture become less “other”? Why can’t this culture be respected and appreciated for its differences without letting the differences become a reason for it to be a mockery? You first stated that by trivializing the culture, it is disrespectful, but making it less “other” is the same thing as trivializing it. Which is also disrespectful. This culture is VERY different from the dominant culture here in America, but that should not subject it to mockery, ever.

      • avatar

        Thank You Fatima.I am glad that there are people even from Islamic Culture who could see the blatant abuse thrown at our civilization by the west.They just want to mock our culture,and abuse everything that this civilization has in a very brutal manner.How every crime or negativity that happens in India like rape is attached to Indian Culture or lets say Hindu culture,while America tops in rapes shows their clean attitude to our people.This is because we don’t have a right wing to answer for these abuses.I doubt they would even dare target let’s say Islamic civilization and get away with it.But we don’t have any answers we just take the abuse and sit silently.Those who can’t have the spine to fight against discrimination deserves to be discriminated.

  41. avatar

    This is honestly amazing and so true. Reading this, when you said that you were made fun of when you were younger for bracing your own culture, I remembered how my classmates would make fun of Indian people by calling them Dot-Heads and what not. Even like with Henna, before it became “cool” these people would be like “oh why do you have marker all over you, that’s so weird.” But ironically enough these same people are so ecstatic with the “exotic” nature of Henna. I really think it’s unfair that now that they think its “cool” and “exotic” it is okay to brace OUR culture as fashion, when we got taunted and made fun of for it. Talk about double standards & hypocracy.

    • avatar

      “same people”?

      The people who call Hindus Dot-Heads are not the same people who wear Bindis. All white people do not think alike. To think they do is nothing short of racism. And yes racism comes in all colors. You don’t have to be white to be racist.

  42. avatar
    Nushrat J.

    As a South Asian, I want to express how much frustration I feel towards the people who think they can take advantage of the little things my culture has to offer. I don’t see my culture as a trend that needs to be followed, or an exotic world that can contribute to the white man’s fashion sense. My culture is a way of life that is part of the human race. Using a bindi or any other object from my background gives people the sense that my culture is a thing to play around with, to use for your own entertainment. Influences from America and Europe are so strong in South Asia, that is redefined my culture completely. The dominant race took away so much from my country, in terms of culture, that it’s only fair that we get to hold on to what we have left. We value our customs because it means something to all of us, and it doesn’t give other people the right to practice them without having any significant purpose in mind or using it for a menial reason such as fashion. My culture isn’t “exotic.” It’s a way of life practiced by millions of people all over the world, people who deserve to practice it because it is how we are raised. The most insulting thing a person can do is to turn this sacred way of life into a fashion trend, and I hope this article and comments like mine can show people how demeaning it is to people who are truly of that culture, when you practice culture appropriation.

    • avatar

      Wow! You know what…I wear bindi’s! I completely respect your culture. Instead of thinking that we are ‘playing’ with your culture, The bindi will always be owned by the South Asians! Just because other races wear it doesn’t mean your being disrespected! It doesn’t matter anyways because it’s becoming popular!!! Thanks.

    • avatar

      All of you are ridiculous! South Asian, American, European, Hindu, Christian, catholic, atheist, satanist! What ever the case may be we all live on this earth together. Yes western people have recently taken the bindi as a “fashion statement” or maybe not! Have you ever seen a white woman wearing a bindi and asked her about It? Like it was mention by nushrat the culture has changed from adopting western and European influence, you say it like it is bad. I am positive!, no one would change something for the worse. Over time things change, and sometimes other people have better ideas than us, so does that make it wrong to think it is a good idea? Or to like it? I am white and live in the United States. I have always felt spiritual but want no part in Christianity. I had seen women in their bindi and it makes them look beautiful, but I would never just adopt this custom for fashion! So I researched a lot about bindis, spirituality, and Hinduism. So I now choose to wear my bindi, it makes me feel Amazing! I wear my bindi and feel serene, connected with the earth, confident and beautiful. I have taught myself about the subject and intend no disrespect, i wear my bindi with pride confidence and respect for its origin and originators. If this is still offensive to you I can make up my own center of the forehead adornment, call it something else. I am not embarrassed to copy a wonderful tradition. What do you think people have been doing since the beginning?


Fatima is the tenth period editor for the NWN. She has been on staff since her sophomore year. She is an avid reader, writer, and tea-drinker, and enjoys watching almost every television show in season right now. Currently, she is a reporter for Chicago Tribune’s The Mash. Fatima hopes to major in journalism while pursuing the pre-law track to someday attend law school.


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