How to Partake in Henna Culture and Do It Without Offending Others. How to Have the Hard Conversation.
How does one take part in henna culture? First and foremost it is important to research the culture. Henna has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Originating in the middle east, henna was first used to protect and cool oneself against the hot heat of the desert. However, over time the henna began to be adorned on brides and grooms for wedding ceremonies and other special ceremonies and occasions. The designs used in henna art are symbolic to each region and are carefully and specifically placed on the body. Henna art of course has evolved over time to what it is today but the tradition and culture behind remains the same.
The second important thing to consider is your henna artist. Of course you can do henna art yourself at home, but a henna artist has techniques, tips and tricks to get the art you want for the occasion you are partaking in. Your henna artist will bring to life the traditions and culture behind henna art.
Lastly it is important to consider cultural appropriation, the process of taking something that is not yours; culturally speaking. Cultural appropriation western society needs to be taken into consideration as western society tends to, unfortunately, take on cultures and traditions that are not necessarily theirs and use them in the wrong way to make them their own. Be true to the henna culture and stick with the traditional designs, do not try to make it your own by using henna art to make something of western culture; it is not appropriate.
Embrace the henna culture and traditions, they are strong and powerful.
But, how does one talk about cultural appropriation in henna without offending someone? That is a great question especially nowadays with how sensitive people can be about tough subjects.
The way to talk about cultural appropriation in henna is to talk about it gently with the other party. Be sure to have your facts and talk plainly and bluntly about the henna culture and how cultural appropriation is wrong. Be truthful and just. Be open as well and listen. The point is to educate others on the henna culture but it is also important not to offend the other person who is performing cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation is hard and sometimes a person does not know they are being inappropriate to another culture. So be gentle.