“Ethnic”

I got an email from a clothing company in my inbox the other day, and upon my perusal of said email, saw the following:

What the hell does “ethnic-embroidered” mean, and why is it a compound word? Why is the term “ethnic,” which is vague and non-specific (but is basically code for any “non-Western” aesthetic), applied to clothes, art, etc.? Especially when that clothing and/or art is mass-manufactured and is anything but “ethnic,” as in being a product of a specific community of people that share ancestry, culture, language, etc.? Why is it okay to use it as a blanket term for brightly colored, zig-zag looking elements? There are plenty of terms to describe a bag like the one above. Zig-zag bag. Geometric bag. Red and black bag. What about just “embroidered handbag”? I just don’t understand the loose use of ethnic to describe something that has an aesthetic that is not at once apparently Western or modern. By calling it ethnic, it seems to mark it as othered, abnormal, and as such, sets up a hierarchy that places more value on a western, modern aesthetic. Yeah?

3 thoughts on ““Ethnic”

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