BY: CLAIRE KIM
Cultural appropriation is always a no-no in our world.
Degrading one’s culture for entertainment or market is incredibly rude towards an entire population that appreciates their cultural values. In the past years, we have seen several controversies regarding such offense. From non-black celebrities pulling off dreads as a “hip-hop style” to Muslim hair scarfs used for “elegance”, our world is losing respect to others by downgrading cultural elements into something that can be thrown around as trendy.
As of recently, one of the greatest cultural appropriation controversies that have been cast can be seen with Kim Kardashian’s latest release of her underwear line called “Kimono”. Featuring tight-skin pieces — seemingly looking like lingerie –, Kim’s line “Kimono” has spurred instant outrage from the Japanese for her use of the word. To the Japanese, the kimono represents a century-long tradition of apparel that is worn respectfully to honor the nature and beauty of Japan in its design. Embellished with ribboned cherry blossoms and wave-like patterns, the kimono is a sacred dress that provides aura to the wearer when put on. However, with Kim labeling her underwear line “Kimono”, the value of the Japanese word shifts to a less respectful title, thus angering the Japanese for her decision.
Personally, I believe that Kim is at the wrong here with naming her collection “Kimono” because it degrades the word’s value under Japanese culture. It’s disrespectful and unnecessary to use as underwear shouldn’t be compared to such a high-esteemed piece of clothing that literally represents Japan’s cultural apparel since the beginning of history. If she really wanted to use this word in her line she should’ve at least asked if it would be okay before stirring up all this controversy. Though some may defend Kim’s decision as being perfectly fine for business purposes, to me, I believe this is offensive towards Japan and other countries that look up to the kimono as more than just a piece of underwear. I mean if we denounce the use of “hijabs” (Muslim head scarfs) for such marketing purposes, shouldn’t the kimono have the same right as well?