For someone who spent the past few years of her life in a brightly-colored blur of nipple pasties, references to drug culture, half-naked red-carpet appearances, and varying degrees of shock value, the Miley Cyrus of 2017 is practically Mother Teresa. But even still, the singer did drum up some controversy with her recent choice of facial jewels — namely, the rainbow rhinestone bindi she wore to her performance at the D.C. Pride parade.
The bindi, traditionally represented as a red dot in the center of the forehead, has great religious significance to Hindu women: The placement is associated with the “third eye” chakra, or the subconscious mind. Because of their spiritual and cultural symbolism, it's offensive to appropriate them as a fashion accessory without properly crediting their significance — which is exactly what landed Miley in hot water.
The star posted a selfie to Instagram prior to the event, and commenters quickly noted that the look wasn’t exactly the picture of political correctness. “Still stealing other people’s cultures I guess,” one wrote, while another called her the “queen of appropriating culture.”
Though we’ll give Miley the benefit of the doubt and say she probably/hopefully didn’t intend to hurt or piss anyone off with her Pride get-up, this incident drives home the point that we should all — especially celebrities, whose actions are being watched and evaluated by millions of people — become better-educated about the difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation.