Babushka: the Tar Pit of Cultural Appropriation


Follow the link to learn more about her culture. Seriously.

Some weeks back, I read this item on cultural appropriation. And I’ve been bothered by it ever since. I looked into the issue further. To briefly summarize, it’s cool for a woman from anywhere in the world to wear jeans and T-shirts, but I am not allowed to experiment with world fashion. If I am in a Kimono or a Cheongsam, it had better damn well be Halloween. Headgear? Sure, I can wear certain hats, but beyond that lies dangerous territory.

Men seem to be largely exempt from these rules. Utilikilts are acceptable in many places. L.L. Bean has been selling plaid shirts in traditional clan patterns for decades without checking the heritage of the purchaser. Nobody seems to be alarmed at western men with their hair done in a topknot, despite not being samurai.

Some people even want to be in an uproar about sushi being served in a university cafeteria. One must wonder if these people are similarly concerned over spaghetti or tacos.

And this brings me to an important question. Many of my forebears hail from Russia — somewhere near Anatevka, perhaps. I have forebears from other areas of Eastern Europe as well. So, am I Russian enough to wear a scarf in the Babushka style? Or am I about to be flamed for taking this picture in the privacy of my home?