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Cultural appropriation, a matter that has been recently initiating
a controversial issue within our social environment that plays a huge part in
media.

 

Cultural appropriation is the theft of icons, rituals and aesthetic
standards from one culture to another which mainly appears in propaganda as new
current trends that have been either discovered or rekindled by i.e. fashion
models and celebrities. This often occurs with people who do not have a real
understanding to why the culture carries out these traditions yet still use it
to appear exotic and distinctive. Using the culture as a trend takes away the
significant meaning behind the activities making them seem meaningless and immaterial.

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Taking away the real meaning behind the culture makes it harder to differentiate
between individuals who practice the tradition and individuals who use it to enhance
their trends sense. Cultural appropriation is harmful because it is an
extension of centuries of racism, genocide and oppression. The defence of
cultural appropriation is based upon the misconception that race relations exists
on a level-playing field, as through racism no longer exists (Olympia – Washington,
2011). This takes away from the fact that systematic racism still exists and
that privilege is a part of a social construct that makes people of colour
denied power and privilege in society.

 

News, entertainment and education are three foundations that mass
media provides us with. A common person is likely to check their social media, television
or magazine as a form to stay up to date with what is ensuing in society which
they may depend on to get the current news and what (they believe) they should
be mindful off. This allows people to feel connected to the world and feel like
they are aware of their surroundings. Media has a huge impact on society in
shaping the public opinion of the masses (M. A Mughal, 2013). This is due to
the trust that is being installed by authority who provide us with different
outlets in media, whether it is for educational uses or trends. Another aspect
that plays a major contribution to media is the fact that it sells, allowing it
to be a billion-pound industry worth of advertising. We are often influenced by
our buying decision based on different media outlets. This mainly occurs within
the younger target audience who are i.e. instantly captivated by what their
favourite celebrities might promote due to what have been made acceptable by
the influence of media.

 

One of the main elements
media is known for is to introduce new trends that are often discovered within
different outlets such as social media, television, magazines, fashion runaways
etc. These trends are often glamorised within the use of different ways to
represent them, whether they are introduced by celebrities or well-known
fashion designers in the industry, making it easier for the audience to react
and embrace due to the authority and reputation the variables (such as famous
designers, i.e. Versace) might have. This paper will examine and focus on the
use of magazines as a social outlet and how it may contribute to trends that
may add to cultural appropriation. In this study, many cases of cultural
appropriation have been spotted in the magazine industry that has led to controversial
lash back from different types of audience, an example of that is the Arab
Vogue magazine which has a target audience of 21 – 40 years old who are mostly
female orientated and are working adults, models and fashionistas whose income
have been targeted to be over £4000 and above (Jaleesa Thijm, 2013). Arab
Vogues Magazines first cover, which has been released recently featuring a well
globally known model named Gigi Hadid has caused a storm in the industry and
use of different social media outlets. The controversy appeared due to Hadid’s
use of veil (headscarf) that took everyone by surprise as it took away the
significance of the headscarf due to the fact people knew it was not a part of
her religion/culture. Although Hadid’s quoted “I hope that this magazine will
show another layer of the fashion industry’s desire to continue to accept, celebrate,
and incorporate all people and customs and make everyone feel like they have fashion
images any moments they can relate to” (Teen Vogue, 2017), some fans criticized
the cover, stating that Hadid’s presence in the magazine is not justified by
her Palestinian roots which she tends to use when convenient and mostly
suitable in her career, leading to be culturally appropriating the religion of 1.8
billion followers who have a lack of representation in the magazine industry
and media in general. Audience’s used their social media platforms to express
their views on Vogues Arabia’s decision by stating that Hadid, a non-Muslim,
westernised woman cannot just wear the headscarf as a piece of fashion and be
able to do the “things she does”. This makes it feel almost impossible to
compose a sense or representation for woman who wear the headscarf for
religious reasons. Another topic of issue that was raised due to this magazine
cover was the fact that they did not use an Arab model who would be more likely
suitable to pose for Vogues first Arab magazine series. Using a well-known
Westernised model may be beneficial for the company’s sale revenue, however
this also led to back lash as it caused social media outburst taking away the
focus of the magazine first Arab Vogues magazine and making it a social construct
issue, which may again, reduce the sales revenue due to the strong impact
social media can have on a brand. Hadid continued to spreads her message 

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