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News18 » Lifestyle
3-min read

Black Widow Actress Florence Pugh Says She Feels Embarrassed About Indian Culture Being Abused For Profit

Oscar-nominated actress Florence Pugh has apologised for cultural appropriation of Indian and black cultures done in the past, at the height of "Black Lives Matter" movement in America.


Updated:June 28, 2020, 3:53 PM IST
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Black Widow Actress Florence Pugh Says She Feels Embarrassed About Indian Culture Being Abused For Profit
Florence Pugh

Actress Florence Pugh felt sad about Indian culture being abused for profit, and went on to apologise for disrespecting the beauty of the religion that had been taught to her many years ago.

The confession came as part of her lengthy statement to apologise for past cultural appropriation. The 24-year-old actress posted the statement on Instagram, reports people.com.

Acknowledging the "tidal wave of information" she had been "unaware of" until recently following the unrest over systemic racism, the actress said she had spent the past month reflecting on her mistakes and learning for the better.

"I've read, listened, signed, donated, read again, ssh'd my white fragility and really wanted to trace instances in my life where I have been guilty. One part I have identified in my own actions is cultural appropriation," Pugh wrote.

Narrating one example, Pugh said that as a child she had "befriended an Indian shop owner", who "would gift me things" and "share her culture with me" -- and that she grew up being "obsessed" with henna.

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To see change I must be part of the change.

A post shared by Florence Pugh (@florencepugh) on

"Over the summer of 2017, Bindis and henna became a trend. Every top high street shop was selling their reimagined versions of this culture. No one cared about the origin, a culture was being abused for profit. I felt embarrassed. I felt sadness for the small family-run Indian shops all over the country, seeing their culture and religion cheapened everywhere," she recalled

Pugh initially thought that because she had been introduced to Indian culture differently she was exempt from blame. She went on to realize that she "actually wasn't being respectful" either.

"I wore this culture on my terms only, to parties, at dinner. I too was disrespecting the beauty of the religion that had been taught to me those years ago," she wrote.

The English star went on to share that she first heard the term 'cultural appropriation' when she was 18, after asking a friend if they liked her hairstyle, which was braided into cornrows.

"She began to explain to me what cultural appropriation was, the history and heartbreak over how when Black girls do it they're mocked and judged, but when white girls do it, it's only then perceived as cool," Pugh said, adding that while at the time she "could see how Black culture was being so obviously exploited", she, "was also defensive and confused, white fragility coming out plain and simple".

She also shared another instance with a photo she took when she was 17, which had been brought to her attention by a fan.

She wrote: "I braided my hair and painted a beanie with the Jamaican flag colours and went to a friend's house; proud of my Rastafarian creation. I then posted about it the next day with a caption that paraphrased the lyrics to Shaggy's song 'Boombastic'. I am ashamed of so many things in those few sentences."

"At the time, I honestly did not think that I was doing anything wrong. Growing up as white and privileged allowed me to get that far and not know. Stupid doesn't even cut it, I was uneducated. I was unread," she added.

Pugh continued: "I grew up watching my high profile pop culture idols adopting culture in similar ways, so I didn't think wrong of doing it too. I now need to be aware that people are looking up to me and I must address my own poor actions."

"Black, Indian, Native American and Asian cultures and religions are constantly used and abused every new shopping season. It's not wrong to appreciate the beauty of a culture but rebranding them for the sake of a fashion trend and a $ most certainly is.

"I'm truly sorry to all of you that were offended for years or even just recently. I cannot dismiss the actions I bought into years ago but I believe that we who were blind to such things must acknowledge them and recognise them as our faults, our ignorance and our white privilege and I apologise profusely that it took this long," she added.

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