Hair sticks were quite the trend in the 90s and they are making a comeback once more. However, if you are someone who isn’t from an Asian culture is it appropriate for you to wear this style?
Here is all that you need to know about hair sticks and cultural appropriation?
Is Wearing Hair Sticks a Form of Cultural Appropriation?
This all depends on what kind of hair sticks you are wearing as well as how you are using them as an accessories – as long as you are respectful of hair sticks and understand your limits in borrowing them from foreign cultures it shouldn’t be a problem.
Why are Hair Sticks Not Considered Cultural Appropriation?
Well, one of the reasons has to do with the fact that hair sticks don’t actually belong to a single culture.
Although hair sticks are traditionally associated with Chinese and Japanese cultures, they have also been used by the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Africans for thousands of years.
As hair sticks have been used in Europe, Africa, and Asia, it is difficult to condemn a single person or a single race of appropriating a culture.
There is also the fact that most hair sticks aren’t considered a symbol of culture. Instead, they were merely hair accessories. Hair sticks were either used to enhance a hairstyle or used to keep the hair in place.
Due to this, you can wear hair sticks – within certain limits – without being accused of cultural appropriation.
Hair Sticks vs. Chopsticks – The Important Difference
Now, before continuing with this discussion, it is important for you to understand the difference between hair sticks and chopsticks.
Hair sticks became especially popular in the 90s although back then, they were referred to as chopsticks. Some people still do this today.
Despite this, hair sticks aren’t chopsticks. Hair sticks are decorative tools and accessories for the hair. Chopsticks are used for eating.
As such, to refer to hair sticks as chopsticks is incredibly inappropriate.
On a similar note, you should never use chopsticks in lieu of hair sticks. Always use hair sticks as using chopsticks is culturally insensitive.
Many people also find it quite rude and unnecessary – the equivalent of sticking a fork in your hair.
When is Wearing Hair Sticks Cultural Appropriation?
Although this isn’t true of other cultures, there is some cultural significance to Japanese hair sticks. These may be adorned with symbols of either historical sentiment or religious sentiment.
In some instances, this may be true for Chinese hair sticks as well, particularly if they are celebrating a certain festival. These may be engraved or painted with certain symbols, signs, or words.
You should steer clear of these hair sticks at all costs. These are cultural symbols to people and, as such, will be seen as a form of cultural appropriation.
If you are also wearing these hair sticks in a careless manner, without understanding what they stand for, you will be considered culturally insensitive as well.
Are Your Hair Sticks a Part of a ‘Costume’?
A surefire way to guarantee that you wearing hair sticks is if you are wearing them as accessories as a costume while adopting national dresses from another culture.
If you are doing so with the approval of people from that culture and are wearing it for a cultural event, then it isn’t seen as insensitive or appropriation.
However, if you are wearing the outfit and hair sticks as a costume for a party or to make comedy out of someone else’s culture, then this is both appropriation as well as inappropriate.
In general, avoid wearing hair sticks if the rest of your outfit may already be borrowing heavily from Asian themes. This could appear as though you are trying to put together a costume even if this isn’t your intention.
In addition to this, you shouldn’t wear traditional Chinese or Japanese hairstyles. And, you certainly shouldn’t wear hair sticks in such hairstyles either!
How Should You Choose Hair Sticks?
It is always a good idea to stick with plain hair sticks. Although you can choose different colored hair sticks, you may want to avoid ones that have charms attached to the back.
Also, steer clear of any that have symbols or signs that may be associated with a certain culture or religion.
It is a good idea to always do your research ahead of time and to know which hair sticks have cultural significance. This can prevent you from making mistakes with your purchase.
When Should You Wear Hair Sticks?
You can wear hair sticks to enhance the beauty of a bun or another simple hairstyle. As mentioned, this shouldn’t be anything traditional that is associated with a particular culture.
You should also consider the occasion and the event. Are there going to be people there whose culture is associated with hair sticks?
If so, it is best not to wear them. Even if this isn’t necessary a cultural symbol, you should respect that this may not be the right audience for such a fashion statement.
You should also be mindful of the rest of your outfit. Stick to attire that is associated with your culture or fashion trends so that it doesn’t appear as though you are appropriating anyone’s culture.
Are Hair Sticks Considered Cultural Appropriation?
Hair sticks themselves aren’t considered a form of cultural appropriation – for one thing, they belong to many different cultures and, for another, are an accessory – however, wearing certain hair sticks can appear culturally insensitive and should be avoided by foreigners.