[Image description: screenshot of Facebook photo and its comment page. Photo shows white girl displaying mehndi on her hands. The relevant comment reads, "Love it! I like how it looks on people with light skin. The artistry stands out so much better.”]
hahahaha, FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU. yeah everything is so much fucking better with or on white people! INCLUDING THIS! Indian bridal mehndi: sorry, desi folk, it’s nice that you came up with something so pretty, but white people just wear it better!
it’s a fucking ancient practice described in the earliest Vedic texts, used during festivals and holy days and weddings. it’s a beautiful part of my culture that I love, something I linger over in old family wedding photos, something I’ve worn to temple and during festivals, something I plan to wear at my own wedding someday. and guess what, y’all? apparently, I WILL NEVER DO IT AS WELL AS WHITE PEOPLE.
I experienced an honest-to-God rage blackout when I found this bullshit on my Facebook newsfeed this morning. It was in no way helped when I tried searching for mehndi photos on Pinterest, and like 50% of them were white girls.
I just cannot deal with white people who decide that other cultures are so ~COOL~ and ~EXOTIC~ and want a piece. You can look, but don’t touch, okay? Just don’t. I’m glad you think that our “henna tattoos” are so pretty, but before you decide that you want to wear my culture’s clothes and body art and jewelry, before you decide that we’ve created something worthy of your notice so you’ll just swoop in and lift it wholesale, wear my fucking skin for a day.
Wear my brown skin. Listen to the bullshit you hear when you wear saris and mehndi and bindis, listen to people calling you “dothead” and making fun of your accent and thinking your dad is a terrorist. Wear my brown skin under your fucking henna. You want my culture, don’t fucking half-ass it, you motherfucking white imperialist thief. Take all of it. Take the racism, take the hatred, take the bullshit. Take my wounded civilization forever marked by white imperialism and colonialism, my religion misrepresented and demonized by white missionaries. Take all of it, do you hear me?
Take all of it and live with it, live with it and love it alongside the pain and grief and fear. And then fucking tell me how pretty you look in mehndi.
Goddamn white people. This is why we can’t have nice things. I literally cannot check my goddamn Facebook or fuck around having some fun on Pinterest without some jackass reminding me of my place in the world, reminding me that even when my culture isn’t the object of outright derision and hatred, it’s going to be exoticized and stolen and “so much better” when it’s performed by people with white skin.
These same people will naturally totally fail to understand why you’re pissed off because how it can be racist when the perpetrator just really LIKES something, they’re celebrating your culture (by stealing it, after trampling it and shaming you for it), omg WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN?!
Yes. You want my culture? Take my pain with it. Being 5 years old and being told I’m going to hell because my parents are terrorists. Kids calling me “dirty” because of my skin. Crying everyday at home trying to scrub the color out of my skin. Don’t just take the wonderful things. Take the fucking pain. After all of that, then wear the fucking bindi and henna. Because that’s what keeps me going. That makes me proud of who I am. Don’t taint it with your intention to be “cultured”.