Thoughts for No One in Particular

Cultural correctness

I should first mention that today’s post only reflect my personal view on my culture and how it is portrayed, and does not represent the opinions of all my people.


I have not seen in detail the fashion magazine photos currently raising controversy on, I think, the proper portrayal of my culture. And I am not sure how many of my people find them – photos of a Caucasian model dressed in our traditional wear-like robes and shot in traditional-looking places – to be controversial. But personally, I am neither for or against them.


Maybe because I can tell from what I can see that the portrayal of my culture is not too accurate anyway, it does not bother me too much that the model is not one of my people.

In fact, I am actually glad the model was Caucasian, so the people seeing the photos would not take them to be true and real!


Maybe because I know that the photos only capture, or at least try to capture, a tiny portion of my culture that I find to be widely misrepresented in the Western society (and occasionally misunderstood even in my own!), it does not seem worthwhile to nitpick on and complain about every little detail I find incorrect.

In fact, I actually find it worth applauding the efforts put in trying to capture such a tiny portion in so much detail!


Maybe because I think of these photos to be images of how my culture and my people are seen by the West, it gets me to ponder seriously about how unsuccessful we are of transmitting our true selves and what we need to do to decrease distortion and noise and eliminate error.

In fact, I actually think of them as good study materials to get insight on what interests the West about us and how we can attract them toward us!


Now, of course, if the situation so permits, I would love to see a proper portrayal of my culture. But if it is to be achieved, it will most likely have to start well ahead of the photoshoots – from conceptualization and staffing, or maybe go back even further to cultural education in schools and communities.


I do not think cultural correctness can possibly be attained in a few photos in a fashion magazine. But we see here that they are more than enough to raise controversy about it.


In the world of globalization of today, I do not believe who, of what colour of skin, portrays the cultures should matter so much… look around you, how many families are mixed-race? Rather, I find it much more important to see the heart and soul of the culture being portrayed correctly – I hope that we can build a society, Western or Eastern, in which the person(s) best suited to do so can win the job.


Is that not what diversity is all about?


K.K., I personally thought you looked fabulous in the photos, and I see no need for you to apologize. But I would love to some day see you wear proper traditional wear and go to traditional places in proper manner!


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