I see a lot of people ‘dressing up as Gypsies’ for events
Or labelling themselves ‘Gypsies’ because they read tarot or practice divination, or aspiring to ‘Gypsy lifestyles’ because it’s all a bit romantic and mysterious and hip.
To be clear: ‘Dressing up as a Gypsy’ is cultural appropriation.
It’s not my place to explain Romany/Gypsy ethnicity, people, culture and history. If you’re interested, there are plenty of awesome websites you can explore (try the first link in the list below.)
It is my place to call out the white tarot community to which I belong (and myself – shit, I had a friend read tarot at my ‘Victorian Circus’-themed 30th birthday party and I deliberately suggested she wear hoop earrings and a long dress because of a loose idea in my head about a certain look) on our willingness to adopt the ‘costumes’ (costumes?) of other people’s cultures. It seems to be a permanent and expected feature of divination, done without thought, and often defended as cultural ‘appreciation’.
But unless you actually are a Gypsy, you are not a Gypsy. Unless you actually are Native American, you’re not. If you’re still not sure, take a look at this and realise how massively uncool all this ‘dressing up’ is. A culture is not a style identity you can adopt for the night/season/current album tour.
If you’re a white lady who reads tarot cards, please – just be a white lady who reads tarot cards. Dress up by all means, but leave other folks’ cultures out of it.
Cultural appropriation – further reading
- What is a ‘gypsy’?
- Cirque Du SoLAME & Modern Portrayals of the Romani People (both from Gypsy Appropriations)
- Cultural Appropriation and costumes (from Bitch Magazine)
- But Why Can’t I wear a Hipster Headdress? (by Adrienne K of Native Appropriations)
- Where Racism meets Fashion (from Racialicious)
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.