Did you happen to see Selena Gomez when she took the stage at the MTV Movie Awards last weekend? Apparently she's getting quite a bit of attention for her performance of her new single, "Come & Get It" -- but she's not being lauded for her impeccable vocals or mesmerizing dance moves. Instead, she's being criticized for being culturally insensitive.
When she performed the song, Gomez wore a red dress, striking eye makeup … and a sparkling bindi on her forehead. It's the latter part of her costume that's angered leaders at the Universal Society of Hinduism, who are accusing Gomez of cultural appropriation and demanding an apology.
The strange thing is, I can't remember any of the many, MANY other non-Indian bindi-wearing celebrities who have come under fire like this.
Gomez included a number of traditional Indian motifs (music, dance moves) in her performance, and she said ahead of time that her own costume would be "glam tribal" to fit the song. So the bindi wasn't entirely without context -- but the university Hindu leaders were greatly displeased with her choice of adornment. According to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed,
The bindi on the forehead is an ancient tradition in Hinduism and has religious significance. It is also sometimes referred to as the third eye and the flame, and it is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol... It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory aiming at mercantile greed. Selena should apologize and then she should get acquainted with the basics of world religions.
Okay, I can't argue over whether or not this is an issue worthy of the Hindu leaders' time and attention, because I guess the bottom line is if they were offended, they have the right to express that just like I have the right to roll my eyes a little over this.
But! If Selena Gomez is being asked to apologize and "get acquainted with world religion," shouldn't this group send the same message to Gwen Stefani?
Or Alyssa Milano?
How about Katy Perry?
And let's not forget the original religious-leader-panty-wadder, Madonna.
Not to mention Jessica Simpson, Ashley Judd, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Khloe Kardashian, and probably a ton of others I'm just not thinking of right now.
Interestingly, this same Hindu leader actually praised Julia Roberts when she wore a bindi while visiting the Taj Mahal during the filming for Eat Pray Love.
Julia Roberts honoured the traditions of India by sporting a bindi on her forehead during her recent trip to India, and we are very happy she did. It was a mark of respect that has not gone unnoticed.
Anyway, I feel for Selena, although she certainly seems to be taking the controversy in stride -- she wore the bindi on Ellen Tuesday, as well as on last night's Dancing with the Stars' elimination show.
What do you think of this bindi backlash against Selena Gomez?