Henna: Appropriation or Appreciation?

"I’m Indian – if I don’t find it offensive, why does anyone else? I’m not taking it to a level where it’s ever going to be disrespected or be used in an inappropriate way. I believe it is an appreciation of the Indian culture." – @pavanhenna, founder of Pavan Henna Bar, expresses her confusion to @glamouruk on the criticism she has received for working on a non-South Asian clientele.

Pavan Dhanjal broke the Guinness World Record for ‘Fastest Henna Artist’ when she was just 21. Since then, she has worked with various celebrities, including @elliegoulding and @perrieedwards, providing services for a variety of events and festivals. She hopes to popularize henna all over the world through her henna bar brand, which is meant for every ethnic background.

"As a British-Indian girl, my goal from the beginning has been to make henna accessible to everybody, regardless of their culture or race. In the same way you get your nails or eyebrows done, I want henna to be another step in your beauty routine."

Tint Fam, where do we draw the line between appreciation and appropriation? If the individual doesn’t find it offensive, does it mean others’ of the same background can’t? There’s a fine line between appreciation and appropriation but it all comes down to one thing: Have people of color ever been marginalized for the very same practice, in this case Henna, that is now being adopted by the western worlds? Unfortunately, the answer is usually yes. In which case, how do we bridge the gap - is it through education? Does knowing the meaning behind a practice transform appropriation into appreciation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.