Tonight, while sitting next to my favorite English teacher at my khasaa’s dinner table, I glanced at her earrings. Boloroo is the sweetest and shyest person I’ve met in Batsumber. So upon seeing that her choice of accessories for the evening were large play boy bunnies with pink and white gemstones, I had to stifle a giggle. The best part of this comic setting? Boloroo was completely unaware of what her jewelry would signify to most Americans.
This is not the first time I’ve seen American paraphernalia decorating the bodies or homes of people living outside the borders of the western world. American culture has a great impact on almost (if not all) countries currently in existence. What fascinates me are which details of our culture other societies choose to adopt, and which to reject. Most often the aesthetic aspect is taken, while the attached cultural meaning is torn from its image, replaced with a new significance.
Every society weaves incoming information, materials and ideas into their own unique tapestry. My own question is: would Boloroo care if she knew, in America, what playboy bunnies suggested about her personality? Would the Senegalese men, who are, in general, incredibly homophobic, continue to wear their bright pink t-shirts with the slogan “I love my boyfriend” scribbled across their chest still wear them if they understood English, or what wearing hot pink conveys to most Americans?
So far from personal experience, the answer to this question is… probably not. In fact, when I’ve taken the time to explain what these accessories and clothes mean in American, I usually receive a blank stare. They don’t care, or even find it funny. People may be interested in what Americans wear, but often enough, they couldn’t give a fudge what it represents to us. And truthfully, I’m starting to realize that it was very ego centric to think that they would have cared in the first place.