When any one look closely to different people all over the world, you will see the is fast and recent adaptation of different cultures and not only body chains or beads. This for some people are seen as good thing as the world is turning greatly into a global community why others might see it as cultural appropriation especially the wearing of body chains or beads.
Is Wearing A Body Chain Cultural Appropriation?
There have been some sort of misconception when it comes to the wearing of body chains by different people through out the world and from many cultures where the wearing of body chains are not their thing. But to me, wearing of body chain is not cultural appropriation but rather appreciation. But this also is totally dependent on individuals. If you see it as one, then that’s it but to help us see why we should not see wearing a body chain or bead as a cultural appropriation, it us look to the cultures that we think body chains originated from.
What is cultural appropriation
To help is understand if you should see wearing a body chain or bead is a cultural appropriation or not, let us try to understand the term from their individual meanings.
Appropriation refers to taking something that doesn’t belong to you or your culture. when a particular group (dominant) takes what don not belong to them from a less dominant group.
Culture refers to anything associated with a group of people based on their ethnicity, religion, geography, or social environment. This might include beliefs, traditions, language, objects, ideas, behaviors, customs, values, or institutions.
So Cultural appropriation refers to the use of objects or elements of a non-dominant culture in a way that reinforces stereotypes or contributes to oppression and doesn’t respect their original meaning or give credit to their source. It also includes the unauthorized use of parts of their culture (their dress, dance, etc.) without permission.
As we have seen above what cultural appropriation is all about, let us now see if there is some sort of appropriation by any culture or people.
Origin of body jewelry (chains and beads)
According to Wikipedia, The use of waist chains can be traced back to 4000 years or more originating in the Indian Subcontinent. Historically, waist chains have been used in India, by men and women, as ornaments and as part of religious ceremonies, as accessories and to show affluence.
Belly chains are common among women in India. In some regions waist chains are common among men as well. In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, every newborn receives a waist chain as a cultural pact.
This can be also seen in the wearing of beads. You can see that wearing waist beads today are very common and you might see it as a general thing but it actually originated in Africa. Beads worn around the waist has appeared in several aspects of African culture such as dress, childcare, and relationships. Notably in Ghanaian and Nigerian culture, these waist beads have functioned as slings for loincloths, and as support when a child is carried on one’s back. In childcare, they have been included as part of naming ceremonies and to measure growth until puberty.
But today, wearing body jewelries like chain and beads are mostly seen as a cultural thing but as fashion. To me this is not some sort of appropriation but rather adaptation. People today tends to try out new things in their own way and that is why even the name has changed to belly chains.
Ultimately, it all comes down to an individual’s subjectivity and an understanding of the appreciation of the history associated with the pieces.
So, with waist beads and body chains worn increasingly in the waist, whether made of threaded strings, hooped chains, or small beads, the popularity of body chains can be regarded as the best form of cultural appreciation not appropriation.
So Is Wearing A Body Chain Cultural Appropriation?
The short answer is no. Body chains and beads are worn by many people from different tribe and culture and continent as as such it is not appropriated by any people but rather appreciated and borrowed into the fashion world.
Can non Africans wear waist beads?
Yes, anyone who wishes to wear beads around their waist can do so even if they are not Africans or Indians. Today, waist beads and chains are more than a cultural thing, and you can wear it for different reasons, including non-scale weight monitoring, enhancing your sensuality, and just for aesthetics.
At the end of the day, the waist beads make the most stunning kind of jewelry, and in addition to there being no laws that stop you from wearing them, they look great on pretty much everyone! So, if you like waist beads or body chains, you should wear them, and have fun with them.