Cardi B received a lot of criticism for a recent photoshoot promoting her new sneakers. The controversy started because of the cover of an interview the rapper did for Footwear News. In the interview, the singer disclosed her latest collaboration with Rebook, but what really caught the readers’ notice was the article’s cover image. In the picture, the rapper, who is not Hindu, is posed in a representation of the Hindu goddess Durga while holding a sneaker. The culturally insensitive picture led to accusations of cultural appropriation. Some even said that Cardi B was mocking Hindu culture.
How did people react?
One twitter user who has since deleted their account pointed out that in Hindu culture, wearing a shoe inside a temple is prohibited, Durga maa is not to be used as an aesthetic, and Durga maa is never depicted bare bodied. Therefore, the rapper’s picture holding footwear while posing as the Hindu deity feels incredibly disrespectful.
Many others also felt that the photo was “plain disrespect” and cultural appropriation not cultural appreciation. Some commented wondering how or why would the photo be an “homage” to Hindu religion, since the singer is not Hindu, and has never shown any appreciation for Hindu culture and religion before.
why is it homage? why would cardi b out of nowhere, just randomly pay homage to a hindu goddess? she's not hindu, she wasn't styled by a hindu, she's never appreciated hindu culture before, and to add to all that, she's holding a fucking shoe while posing as a religious figure
— ✨diviˣ⁷✨ irish jail era (@divyonce4) November 10, 2020
Honestly how sick must you be in the head to think of posing as a Goddess of a religion that isn’t yours and have the audacity to label it “The power of cardi b” it’s disgusting and so disrespectful to the Hindu religion. pic.twitter.com/OLDEgQ1EZw
— ryō (@yashay_jaichun) November 13, 2020
Cardi B’s response:
Cardi addressed the controversy on Instagram, in a video where she apologized for the picture that many had found culturally insensitive. “When I did the Reebok shoot, the creatives were telling me, ‘You’re going to represent a goddess,’ that she represents strength, femininity, and liberation,” she explained. “That’s something that I love and that I’m all about and I thought that it was dope.”
She also went on to apologize to those who felt offended by the photoshoot. “But if people think I’m offending [their] culture or their religion, I want to say I’m sorry,” Cardi said. “That was not my intent, I do not like disrespecting nobody’s religion.”
The singer also said in her video that she wouldn’t want people offending her religion, and explains that as long as people portray her religion in a respectful way she doesn’t take offense. “I wouldn’t like people to offend my religion — when people dress as the Virgin Mary and Jesus, as long as [they’re] doing it in a beautiful, graceful way and respectful way, I don’t feel a certain type of way and I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful.” This suggests that at the time Cardi B believed she was portraying a different religion (hinduism) in a respectful and graceful way, which is why she hadn’t expected the backlash that followed.
Cardi B. issued an apology for recent photo shoot. pic.twitter.com/8nGmOPgCge
— Natalia11 (@Natalia11) November 11, 2020
The Bodak Yellow rapper ended her video acknowledging that she should have been more careful. ”Maybe I should’ve done my research and I’m sorry. I can’t change the past, but I’m gonna do more research for the future.”
Doubling down on her apology in an Instagram Live, the singer also took the opportunity to ask that people to stop insulting her while teaching her about cultural sensitivity.
“I do respect your opinion and I do respect your feelings, so I apologise for it,” Cardi said. “I do gotta do my research. I’m sorry, guys. I think people want us to know every word or every religion or everything, and sometimes we just don’t know. But it’s good to learn so I won’t do it again.”
“But while ya teaching me a lesson, and while ya telling me what to do, don’t disrespect me neither,” she continued. “Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a whore. Don’t call me a slut. Don’t go saying that I’m a terrible person.”
Footwear News also responded to the criticism. They changed the cover image of the interview that had sparked the controversy, and removed the original picture entirely. They also apologized for the “oversight” on their part.
“One of the images was intended to pay homage to Hindu goddess Durga, and our intent was to show a powerful woman,” Footwear News said in an Instagram caption. “However, we realize we were not considerate of certain cultural and religious perspectives and how this could be perceived as deeply offensive.”
“We take full accountability for this oversight and we apologize,” they continued in their statement, adding that “it is important we learn from this example and are sensitive to this sort of religious imagery when creative discussions are taking place in the future.”
What do you think? Was the photo cultural appreciation or cultural appropriation?