Cultural Appropriation: Miss USA

This past year, our school participated in a competition in collaboration with i-D Italy. The brief was to create a potential cover for the magazine, and to keep in mind the identity and values of the magazine. My group and I decided to tackle a global issue, and an issue that is very close and common in the fashion industry: cultural appropriation.

The meaning behind our cover proposal comes from the saturation of cultural appropriation in popular culture today.

Young people, no matter where they come from, crave what they do not have. In the past, people of color used to alter their natural features in order to conform to the Western ideals of beauty.

On the other hand, today a lot of young celebrities like Kylie Jenner, are drawing inspiration from aspects of black culture merely because it is perceived as “cool” thanks to the rise of hip hop. Even though diverse cultures are being embraced, it is appreciation on a very surface level.

As a result, we can see that dominant cultures are still being championed whilst forgetting to portray the same sentiment towards the original culture.

It gives the imitator the right to be “exotic” without having to go through any of the hardships and discrimination that is faced by those cultures that they “admire”.

With the rise of political and social chaos going on in the world today, we wanted to portray what the American standard of beauty dictates by disrupting this standard with black culture, which is a big part of American culture, however not always prevalent. President Donald Trump and his band of supporters have created a rise in intolerance towards minorities not only in America, but all over the world. What he failed to realized is that those minorities are as American, if not more, than he is.

The result of this is our cover proposal: dark humor that criticizes the culture of beauty pageants by replacing a cliche beauty queen with her complete opposite: the “imperfect’ Miss USA, who is still a big part of America, and she is as important.

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